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Concrete’s Impact on Building and Infrastructure Resilience

Key Decision Makers Can Enhance Resilience By Choosing Concrete.

Today, Americans are entirely aware of the damage a natural or manmade disaster can have on a community.

From the recent California Wildfires that burned entire towns down; to Hurricanes, Michael, Florence, and Irma that brought more wind and rain than we could have imagined; on top of countless other disasters including floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes that wreaked havoc on our nation this year–we know quite well how serious these disasters can be.  

While no one is completely out of harm’s way when it comes to these disastrous events, key decision makers like city planners, architects, designers, and builders can make decisions that enhance a community’s infrastructure resilience. One of those key decisions is to build with concrete.

What Makes Buildings and Infrastructure Systems Resilient?

The National Infrastructure Advisory Council defines infrastructure resilience as the ability to reduce the magnitude and/or duration of disruptive events.

The effectiveness of a resilient building or infrastructure system depends on its ability to anticipate, absorb, adapt to, and/or rapidly recover from a potentially disruptive event. Essentially, how quickly a community is able to restore energy, transportation, clean water, and communication services to residents after a disaster is the measure of a community’s infrastructure resilience.

Community facilities such as fire, police, health care, government entities, and designated shelters or residential units are typically built to the highest resilience.

The Impact Of Material Selection On Resilience:

A community can gain resilience when buildings are constructed in a way that allows them to withstand intense, disastrous events. As you can imagine, this type of resilience weighs heavily on the material selection process.

Resilient communities start with comprehensive planning and include stricter building codes that produce strong, long-lasting structures. As someone responsible for planning and designing buildings and infrastructure systems, it’s important to recognize the opportunity for resilience throughout the material selection process.

The most common building materials include wood, brick, stone, steel, iron–all of which have pros and cons.

Take wood for example. Wood is a very common building material boasting qualities such as being: strong, lightweight, and easy to use. But it should be noted that wood is easily prone to decaying and damage due to moisture, pest infestation, fire, and whatever other harsh environmental elements might come about.

A material that can be incorporated in several key aspects of a building or infrastructure system project to make it more durable and disaster resistant is concrete.

Read more of our construction need-to-knows for material management success.

Concrete Makes Buildings And Infrastructure Systems Resilient.

Nobody can deny concrete’s strength, durability, longevity, and inherent resilience, among many other benefits.

Today, concrete is the only building material that cost-effectively delivers:

  • Energy efficiency through thermal mass
  • Sound insulation
  • 100% recyclability–considered a sustainable building materials!
  • Durability in any type of environment
  • Low carbon footprint for a structure or surface throughout its lifecycle
  • Safety and security
  • Versatility in shape, color, pattern, etc.
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Abundance of mix materials (water, air, gravel, sand) almost everywhere
  • Resilience

Concrete doesn’t burn, rust, or rot. It’s resistant to fire, wind, water, vibrations, and earthquakes.

Moreover, concrete provides resiliency in the form of weight and mass. Think about it, concrete is physically heavier than most other building materials. It’s due to this quality that concrete structures are able to resist almost any force a disastrous event may unleash.

Below you can see the resilience of concrete wall systems, floor systems, finishes, roof tiles, storm shelters, retaining walls, and pavements in the face of various conditions.chart showing the resilience of concrete

As a stakeholder, designer or builder, it is in your best interest to consider how you can contribute to a building or infrastructure system’s resilience. A concrete wall, floor and/or roof system can provide your structure with the best combination of strength, security, and resilience.

Put it in Concrete Terms:

When you choose to build with concrete, you’re able to enjoy peace of mind knowing that you are providing unsurpassed safety and security for the building or community’s occupants. You’ll play a part in limiting the risk for costly property damage and/or losses, ensuring long-term continuity, and enhancing overall building resilience.

The same piece of mind you’ll enjoy knowing you chose to build with a resilient building material like concrete, is the piece of mind we enjoy knowing we supply our clients with a quality and well designed ready-mix concrete!

At Concrete Supply Co., we’ve made it our mission to be the premier provider of quality ready-mix concrete and related services while acting in the best interest of our employees, customers, shareholders, and the community.

We strive to embody our values of integrity, family, customers, teamwork, community, industry, and profitability in everything we do–something we feel is important to find in any supplier.

Learn more about who we are at Concrete Supply Co

If your next concrete project requires concrete that is extra strong, be sure to let your ready mix supplier know. Your ready-mix can be mixed in a way that contributes to the strength. A strong concrete ready-mix will ultimately allow you to have a more resilient building. For more on how to get the best ready-mix for your job, download our checklist.

Download Checklist
resilient city infrastructure
2019-02-11T10:41:28+00:00

Cold Weather Concreting 101

Cold Weather Concreting Is Possible When Certain Precautions Are Taken

Construction doesn’t stop–it’s a year-round industry. This means concrete mixes, pours and placements are needed all year and cannot come to a halt due to less-than-ideal weather conditions.

While concrete can be mixed and poured during the cold weather, there are many things to keep in mind which we plan to detail throughout this blog.

  • First, we’ll explain what can go wrong while pouring concrete in cold weather conditions.
  • Then, we’ll discuss how your ready mix provider can help you overcome the problems associated with cold weather concreting.
  • Finally, we’ll warn you of the mistakes we frequently see when it comes to cold weather concrete pouring and tips to avoid making those mistakes.  

Before we start, we feel it’s important to all get on the same page as to what exactly “cold weather” is considered.

The ACI or American Concrete Institute says in their ACI 306R-10 “Guide to Cold Weather Concreting that “cold weather exists when the air temperature has fallen to, or is expected to fall below 40℉ during the protection period*.” So if you find yourself grabbing a jacket on your way out the door, consider the air temperature before mixing, pouring, or placing concrete.

*The “protection period” is defined as the time required to prevent concrete from being affected by exposure to cold weather.

The Two Biggest Problems Cold Weather Concreting Creates

Now, there are two big problems you’ll face when pouring concrete in cold weather.

Problem #1

Concrete must be protected from freezing at an early age. If concrete freezes prior to reaching an initial strength of 500 psi it will not achieve its intended strength.

A general rule to keep in mind is that once the concrete has gained a strength of about 500 psi, it can withstand the effects of one freezing-and-thawing cycle. Exterior concrete should be air entrained and at the minimum required strength prior to exposure to multiple freezing-and-thawing cycles.

Problem #2

Concrete sets more slowly when it is cold but especially slow when temps are below 40℉. Below 40℉ the hydration reaction basically stops and the concrete will gain strength at a very slow rate.

To help your concrete reach that 500 psi strength ASAP, your ready-mix provider can add to (or change-up) the mix in ways that will get it to set more quickly. Those mix add-ins and changes are explained further below.

Mix adjustments alone can only do so much and its possible additional precautions are required to provide temporary heat prior to, during and after a concrete placement to aid in maintaining the concrete temperature once in place.

Mix Changes Your Ready-Mix Supplier Can Make To Help Your Cold Weather Concrete

Many of the problems experienced with cold weather concrete pouring can be overcome with an experienced ready-mix producer’s assistance. A concrete mix can be manipulated in ways that allow it to set and strengthen quickly.

  • Hot water – As temperatures get colder most producers can start using hot water in the mixing process when requested to meet a minimum placement temperature.
  • Slump – The slump required from any ready-mix is dependent on a variety of things. A slump that is less than 4 inches can reduce bleeding. Since the concrete sets slowly in the cold, bleeding starts later, lasts longer, and you’ll see more bleed water.
  • Accelerators – Accelerators keep setting on a somewhat predictable schedule. Often times you’ll see the use of calcium chloride to speed up the hydration reaction. But consider this–calcium chloride can lead to corrosion of any steel embedded in the concrete and it can lead to a streaked and spotted surface appearance with colored concretes.
  • Non-chloride accelerators – Non-chloride accelerators are readily available and must be used any time there are embedded metals such as reinforcing steel. Non-chloride accelerators are also appealing because they don’t discolor concrete.

*Please note that accelerators should not be considered antifreeze agents. They work to increase the rate of the hydration reaction–not prevent freezing.

  • Fly ash –  Fly ash or slag cement may cause the mix to set slower and generate less heat compared to a straight cement mix. Your ready-mix producer will have straight cement options available upon request.
  • More internal heat – To make the reaction hotter, mixes with higher cement contents can be requested. You may consider ordering a concrete that is one or two classes higher in strength. The use of Type III cement may also be an option based on availability which is typically limited to larger metropolitan areas. Your mix’s internal heat can be used to your advantage, and you’ll see why a little later on in this article.

A quality concrete mix design is crucial for success in construction. At Concrete Supply Co. we believe in our ready-mix designs and their ability to help you achieve a successful cold weather concrete placement.

Avoid These Common Mistakes with Cold Weather Concreting

1. Placing concrete on a frozen ground

measuring ground temp

Concrete should not be placed on ground that is frozen or covered with ice or snow as it will have an immediate and long-term impact on the performance of the concrete. A frozen or cold subgrade will slow the set by lowering the in place concrete temperature reducing the effect of the hot water and/or accelerating admixtures when used. Frozen ground may also settle once thawed leading to potential settlement cracks.

2. Allowing concrete to freeze

Think about it this way, water takes up more space in its ice phase than it does in its liquid phase. So when the water used in your mix freezes, it expands, causing damage to the concrete. Do what you can to ensure your pour sets fast enough to prevent freezing. Additional precautions to prevent the in place concrete from freezing may be needed during the protection period.

3. Not taking advantage of heating techniques (or using them incorrectly)

Many times, heating techniques are used to prevent concrete from freezing (mistake #2). When it comes to flatwork, the best way to protect concrete from the cold is to cover it with blankets after it’s been finished. This is where you should take advantage of the heat concrete generates on its own. Blankets will keep your concrete warm even if the temperature goes below 20℉. Use layers of blankets at corners and edges that could freeze.

If blankets aren’t enough, try laying heating blankets on top of the slab or using hydronic heating pipes to keep the slab from freezing.

Still not enough? Enclose and heat the air with a temporary enclosure. While this option comes with its own problems and can run a pretty penny, it is sometimes your only option if the concrete pour has to happen. Be especially careful when using fuel-fired heaters. If your enclosure isn’t properly ventilated, carbon dioxide can build up and react with the concrete, causing the surface to become weak and dusty.

These same blankets used to protect the in place concrete after the placement can also be used to prevent the subgrade from freezing the day or night before the placement providing a warmer subgrade leading to faster set times.

4. Using cold materials

Not only is it important to ensure your mix, the ground, and the air are warm enough, the materials (forms, embedments, and tools) you use for cold weather concrete pouring should also be above freezing and close to the delivered concrete temperature if possible.

At Concrete Supply Co., we have experience with all types of ready-mixes, even mixes that will stand up to freezing conditions. If you need to pour concrete this winter, download our Get The Best Mix For Your Project Concrete Checklist, and be sure to specify that you’ll be looking to pour your mix during cold temperatures.

And remember, concrete can be poured during cold weather and develop sufficient strength and durability to satisfy requirements when the proper precautions are taken. A mix that is properly proportioned, produced, placed, and protected will survive the cold weather.  

cold weather concrete site
2019-02-11T10:40:24+00:00

Home Construction Safety Tips

Reduce The Risk Of An At-Home Construction Project Accident With These Safety Tips

A survey by the National Safety Council revealed that 26 percent of homeowners who completed a DIY home improvement project experienced some type of injury to themselves or someone else in their household. We have to wonder, were they taking the correct safety precautions in order to avoid these accidents?

With the National Center for Health Statistics identifying accidental injury as the third highest cause of death in the US–accidental injury is not a risk that should be taken lightly. With the rate of accidental injuries increasing every year, it’s more important now than ever before to take steps that ensure the safety of you and the people around you.

Taking basic steps towards safety can significantly reduce the risk of an accident (or worse) occurring during an at home construction project, DIY project, or home improvement renovation. Check out our home construction safety tips:

Know How Each Piece Of Equipment You’re Using Works

Read over the manual on each piece of equipment you plan to use for your project. This is especially important for power equipment, which when used incorrectly can lead to serious accidents.

TIP: Check YouTube for a visual tutorial on how a piece of equipment works and its safety features.

Be On The Look-Out For Misplaced Objects

Tools and other materials left unsecured are accidents waiting to happen. Frequently, tools and other objects left on top of ladders, set on framing, or left unattended on roofs are the culprits behind falling object injuries. Tools and other building materials left on the ground can lead to falls or punctured feet.

TIP: Pay attention to how often you leave tools and objects lying around. We think you’ll see it happens quite frequently.

Minimize Your Chances Of A Back Injury

Back injuries are very common on many types of construction sites–even at home, in the backyard, or in your garage.

TIPS:

  • Do not lift more than you can handle. When a load is too heavy, ask for help.
  • Keep your back straight, knees bent and the load close to your body when lifting to minimize strain on the back.
  • Lift with your legs, not with your back.
  • Never twist your body when carrying a heavy load. Think about pivoting your feet and not your spine.
  • Make sure your paths are clear of hazards that might cause you to trip, slip, or fall.

Practice Ladder Safety

Of the almost 500,000 falls from ladders that occur annually, 97 percent occur at home. For such a useful piece of equipment, ladders can certainly be dangerous. Luckily, you can avoid most accidents with some good ladder safety techniques–and a little common sense.  

TIPS:

  • Face the ladder while climbing it.
  • Always carry tools in your toolbelt holster or pouch–not in your hands.
  • Always maintain three points of contact while climbing (one hand and two feet or two hands and one foot).
  • Set the ladder on a firm and level base.
  • If you must place your ladder in front of a door, make sure it is locked.
  • Make sure the ladder you use is the right height for your job.
  • Remember, the top two steps are not the safest place to stand.
  • Fully open stepladders and lock spreaders in place.
  • Use ladders with non-slip feet.  

Wear The Necessary Safety Gear

Of the 26 percent of homeowners who admitted to injuries from their DIY home projects, 41 percent said their injuries were the result of not wearing protective gear. Protective gear can prevent your body from a number of injuries:

  • Safety helmets: Protect your head from falling objects by properly wearing a good quality hard hat. When the hard hat is not on your head, be sure to take good care of it. Never leave it in the window of your car as sunlight can weaken its strength and cause damage.  
  • Eye protection: Protect your eyes from dust and other damaging particles with full-cup, side shielding, shatterproof safety eye protection. Avoid wearing contact lenses on the job site as chemicals, gases, or dust may get under them and cause irritation or even damage to the eyes.  
  • Ear protection: Protect your sensitive ears from loud and repetitive noises. There is no cure for hearing loss so take precautions to avoid damage.
  • Safety footwear: Keep your feet safe from falling objects, crushing hazards or punctures from sharp objects with steel-toed safety boots.
  • Knee pads: Avoid “bad knees” with a pair of knee pads.
  • Safety gloves: Look after your fingers with a high-quality pair of gloves.
  • High visibility vest: Be sure you’re seen especially on sites that aren’t lit well or where you could potentially blend into your surroundings.

Check The Health Hazards

Eliminate the risk of accidentally poisoning yourself and others by keeping chemicals like paint thinners and corrosive cleaners out of reach. Make sure chemicals and cleaners are tightly sealed, and only use when wearing protective gear (like goggles, work gloves, and a ventilation mask).

Whenever you get started on a maintenance or restoration project, check to see if the home or area you’re working on has a history of hazards such as led or asbestos.

Know When To Ask For Help From A Professional

Just because you can complete a DIY project doesn’t mean you should. Leave the dangerous and risky projects to the professionals. Professionals have the equipment, experience, and safety protocols to get a project done the right way and accident-free.

Make Safety A Priority When Dealing With Concrete

Contact with wet concrete can cause skin irritation, severe chemical burns, and serious eye damage. Skin exposure to concrete may be associated with allergic contact dermatitis.

TIPS:

  • Wear waterproof gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, full-length pants, and proper eye protection when working with concrete.
  • If you must stand in wet concrete, wear waterproof boots that are high enough to keep concrete from getting into them.
  • Wash any concrete, mortar, cement, or cement mixtures from your skin immediately.
  • Flush your eyes with water immediately after contact and see medical attention if necessary.
  • Take indirect contact, like through clothing, seriously–often it can be just as damaging as direct contact.

Have a DIY concrete project you’re planning to start soon? First, check out our handling and storage safety data sheet.

Then head over to our Get The Best Ready Mix For Your Project Concrete Checklist which contains expert advice on how to make your next concrete order process easier and faster, a PSI Index to gauge the strength needed for your next concrete project, and a step-by-step guide to walk you through considering need-to-know features like consistency and durability.

at home construction hard hat for safety
2019-02-11T10:38:19+00:00

Residential Concrete Trends of 2018

Top Residential Concrete Trends of 2018

Today’s homeowner tends to value a home that is not only visually appealing but is structurally safe. They want a home that will stand the test of time. But at the same time, they want a home that is energy-efficient, low-maintenance, and environmentally friendly.

As a result, the concrete industry is always changing to accommodate those desires with new advancements in technology and techniques.  

More and more homeowners are realizing concrete’s potential for beautiful aesthetic and structural capabilities in one, while also being affordable!

We’ve seen a number of concrete trends emerge with residential homeowners this year, both structurally and aesthetically.  

Structural Concrete Trends

Resilient Construction with Concrete

In a time where natural disasters seem to be more common (and destructive), residential homeowners are concerned with resilient construction. Standing up to hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, floods and more–concrete is the answer to resilient construction. In 2018 we’re likely to see an increase in concrete use throughout the residential construction industry because of its resiliency. Leading us to our next trend….     

Insulated Concrete Form Walls

ICFs, or insulated concrete form walls, are becoming a popular option for residential owners and builders. The growing popularity of ICFs is due to the fact that they make the building process quicker, easier. Additionally, they create a structure that is durable, efficient, and safe.

The process of constructing ICFs involves stacking the dual-sided expanded polystyrene units held together by a high-density polypropylene webbing. Steel reinforcement is locked in to place as the wall is constructed and then filled with high-strength concrete to form a solid wall structure.

ICF walls create a structure that is energy-efficient, fire-resistant, and can withstand flying debris. These walls can handle debris from tornadoes and hurricanes with wind speeds of up to 250 mph. ICF construction is quiet, low maintenance, healthy, and has a lifespan that is significantly longer than traditional building methods. Compared to a wood-framed home, ICF walls provide 20 percent or more in energy savings. As well as 10-30 percent less outside air infiltration and three times less noise and a 4-hour fire rating.  

We expect to continue to see the ICF wall system be used throughout the residential and even the commercial construction industry in the future.

Aesthetic Concrete Trends

What was once just a construction material is now a high style decor material for residential homeowners everywhere. There are several advantages to using concrete for decorative purposes:

  • Few seams and the ability to minimize the appearance of seams with the use of a color matched filler.
  • Water and stain resistant with the use of a surface sealer.
  • Infinite color options with integral coloring, staining, or both which gives a homeowner the ability to coordinate or match with any room.
  • Can be cast in any shape and almost any size.
  • The ability to create custom edges or replicate designs using molding products.
  • Can be personalized with unique embedded items like pebbles, recycled glass and, seashells.
  • The appearance will improve with age. Since concrete is not a static material, it will evolve and acquire character over time.

The trend of using concrete for architectural and decorative purposes on the residential level is flourishing thanks to new products, advanced techniques, and designers promoting the look. Achieving a particular decorative or architectural appearance with concrete typically requires special forms, unique finishes, different ingredients, colors, and other variables. Here’s how people are using concrete within their homes:

Concrete Countertops

Concrete countertops are especially trendy today. The demand for concrete countertops is growing as people learn the advantages of using the material in their kitchens. One of the most appealing factors swaying people towards concrete countertops is how easy they are to maintain!

Decorative Concrete Floors

Also associated with the decorative and architectural concrete trend are decorative concrete floors. A range of pigments, stains, stamps, dies and stencil patterns, glass and friction finishes allow you to create a walkable piece of art that fits any location.

Concrete floors are economical when compared to quarried stone, they’re also strong, require little maintenance, are long lasting, and provide you with a variety of decorative options!

Pool, Patio, and Other Outdoor areas

Generally, people look to cover their outdoor surfaces with a material that is strong and durable yet practical. Decorative concrete can add a fresh and unique look to your pool, patio, or other outdoor areas, which is something everyone is prioritizing this year!

Driveways and large walkways

Compared to gravel and asphalt, concrete is a more expensive material to pave your driveway or large walkways with, but less expensive than brick or cobblestone. The incentive to use concrete? It’s strength, minimum maintenance, cooler surface, and longevity. Concrete is strong by its very nature standing up to heavy loads through its ability to disperse those loads evenly throughout the pavement. Concrete requires little to no maintenance and its high reflectivity means that more of the sun’s incoming radiation is reflected back into the atmosphere, lowering the amount of heat absorbed by the pavement and its surroundings.

While these are the current trends in residential concrete use, one thing is for sure, the full potential of concrete as a material is just being tapped into. Trends will continue to emerge, taking the concrete industry to new places.

From small do-it-yourself projects, retaining walls, driveways, walkways, and outdoor living areas, to major home renovations and new home construction, plus everything in between, we’ve got you and your residential concrete needs covered. Get an estimate for your residential concrete project today.

Keep in mind, no concrete mix is going to work perfectly for every project, that’s why it’s important to understand how to get the perfect mix. We’ve created a checklist of questions that can help guide you to the best mix for your application. Click to download your checklist.

residential concrete home
2019-01-21T14:21:59+00:00