Durability Matters: Choosing Concrete Over Other Materials

What Your Next Project Stands To Benefit From Using Concrete

When considering building materials, you always want to compare cost, sustainability, safety and durability, among other things. Building materials like steel may be strong and durable, but it comes at a higher cost and may not be necessary for every project. On the other hand, wood is cheap to use, but causes you to compromise on durability and safety.

Concrete, however, stands out against other building materials. It’s affordable, energy efficient, safe and durable—and a material that can work for almost any project.

We know the power of concrete, which is why we want to share the benefits of concrete as a building material. That way, when it’s time for your next project, you remember to compare—and choose—concrete over other materials.

Below, we discuss the advantages concrete has over other materials, specifically wood. We hope this blog gives you the information you need to make concrete your go-to building material in the future.

10 Reasons To Choose Concrete Over Another Building Material

1. Low Maintenance

In comparison to other materials, concrete is extremely low maintenance. In fact, concrete may never require maintenance at all! Materials like steel or wood, however, must be maintained over time.

For example, wood will need to be retreated and repainted over time, and potentially even replaced. The same goes for steel! Concrete, on the other hand, won’t ever require this type of maintenance. This low level of maintenance not only makes concrete a more simple choice, but also a less expensive one.

While concrete may be more expensive than wood initially, the cost you will save over time makes it a worthwhile investment.

2. Resistant To Wind and Water

Concrete’s resistance to wind and water differentiates it from other materials like wood, too. Wood is easily damaged by wind and water, making it less ideal and safe for construction. For example, a large storm may cause wood to snap or break, and the excess water may result in mold damage.

Either way, both potential outcomes are expensive and time-consuming fixes. Unlike wood, concrete stands significantly less of a chance of being damaged by wind and water. This level of resistance allows concrete to stand out against other, weaker materials.

3. Fire-Proof

Due to its ability to absorb heat, concrete is actually fire-proof. This capability alone demonstrates the power of concrete over other building materials, especially wood.

In fact, fires kill more Americans than any other natural disaster combined. In 2017 alone, fires cost the US a total of $328.5 billion. Knowing the threat that fires place on our homes, projects and lives, why would you not choose concrete?

Materials like wood are extremely vulnerable to fire damage. Wood burns quickly, making it difficult to salvage in the event of a fire. This isn’t a concern for concrete though. Concrete walls and floors will not only stand strong during the event of a fire, but it stands a better chance of protecting what’s inside unlike wood.

4. Energy Efficient

Concrete’s heat absorption isn’t only beneficial for fires! Its ability to retain heat makes it energy efficient as well.

How so? Well, concrete’s heat retention requires less work on the buildings HVAC system, which not only cuts expenses, but also increases the building’s energy efficiency.

In addition, the amount of energy required to create concrete differs greatly than that required for a material like steel. On average, steel requires roughly three times as much energy to produce than concrete. In terms of energy efficiency, this is a big deal! As more projects decide to go green and enforce sustainability efforts, energy efficient materials like concrete become even more important.

5. Extremely Durable

Concrete is a material that is built to last. In general, the lifespan of concrete is two to three times longer than other building materials. This level of durability is simply unparalleled!

Other materials like wood can’t compare when it comes to durability. Wood will need to be replaced over time. Concrete, however, stays strong!

No matter the project, you need a building material that will last for years to come, which is why concrete remains the obvious choice above other materials.

6. Doesn’t Rust or Rot

Building off of its extreme durability, concrete also will not rust or rot. Wood and metal building materials will, though.

Decaying, rotting or rusting materials can be expensive to replace or repair. This is an expense you won’t have to worry about with concrete! While concrete has many benefits over other building materials, its durability and inability to rust or rot make it a prime material choice for any project.

7. Can Be Placed To Fit Any Space

One of the many beauties of concrete is that it can be placed in any space, shape or design. If the space you need coverage for is large, no problem. Small, no problem. In a unique shape, you guessed it, no problem!

While wood can sometimes be cut to fit small or unique spaces, placing concrete is a more reliable, consistent and durable option. Additionally, concrete can even be stamped to resemble the look of other materials such as brick, stone and wood. Concrete designs are essentially limitless, so you can achieve the look you want without having to compromise on weaker, less reliable materials.

8. Minimal Waste

Concrete is a material with minimal waste as well. It can be produced in exact amounts, so you won’t have to worry about wasting an excess amount of concrete.

Additionally, when concrete has served its purpose, it can be crushed, recycled and reused for other projects. This reusability isn’t always possible for other building materials!

9. Reflectivity

Since concrete is light in color, it’s able to reflect solar radiation, rather than absorb it like darker materials such as asphalt.

This also adds to its levels of energy efficiency, since the reflectivity will help reduce the need for the building’s AC system to work overtime, especially in the warmer months like spring and summer.

10. Cuts Down on Noise Pollution

Concrete is known to reduce noise—and even soundproof walls and floors—unlike other materials. The thickness of concrete walls and floors won’t allow sound to travel back and forth.

When Choosing Concrete For Your Next Project, Don’t Forget To Partner With The Right Supplier

Now that you know how concrete stands against other building materials, it almost seems like a no brainer to choose concrete for your next project!

However, don’t forget to partner with the right concrete supplier.

Here at Concrete Supply Co., our mission is to be the premier supplier of quality ready-mix concrete to benefit our employees, customers, shareholders and our community.

When you partner with us, we promise to value the industry, teamwork, profitability and most importantly, you! We know choosing the right supplier isn’t always easy, which is why we want to share the same passion and outlook for your project as you do.

If you’re ready to choose concrete for your next project, contact our team to learn how we can benefit you! We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about the limitless possibilities of concrete.

Speaking of suppliers, are you having trouble finding reliable partners? If so, download our free guide, Guide To Pre-Qualifying Suppliers, below!


building with concrete

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

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