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• What is Concrete?
• Components of Concrete
• Classes and Uses of Concrete
• Grade of Concrete
• Types of Concrete Construction
• Steps of Concrete Construction

Concrete is a commonly used construction material, which is the

mixture of cement, sand, aggregate, and admixtures blended with
water. In a building construction, concrete is used for the
construction of foundations, columns, beams, slabs and other load
bearing elements. Concrete gets hardened with time and gains the
strength, and for the best results in a construction structures,
mixing of concrete is said to be the most important process. All
the ingredients are to be mixed in proper proportion because the
properties of concrete like workability, strength, surface finish,
durability of concrete etc., are ensured by the right and
proportionate blending.

• Cement
A cement is a binder, a substance used for construction that sets,
hardens, and adheres to other materials to bind them together.
Sometimes it may be required to perform cement quality tests at
a site within a very short period of time for evaluating the
condition of the supplied cement. In most of the cases, it is not
possible to have any laboratory test in the short period of time.
Therefore, the quality check is performed with the help of some
basic field tests. Although these tests are not very accurate, they
provide some basic idea to the civil engineer regarding the quality
of the cement.
Field Test of Cement:

• Date of Manufacturing: As the strength of cement reduces

with age, the date of manufacturing of cement bags should
be checked.
• Cement Color: The color of cement should be uniform. It
should be typical cement color i.e. gray color with a light
greenish shade.
• Whether Hard Lumps are Formed: Cement should be free
from hard lumps. Such lumps are formed by the absorption
of moisture from the atmosphere.
• Temperature Inside Cement Bag: If the hand is plunged
into a bag of cement, it should be cool inside the cement
bag. If hydration reaction takes place inside the bag, it will
become warm.
• Smoothness Test: When cement is touched or rubbed in
between fingers, it should give a smooth feeling. If it felt
rough, it indicates adulteration with sand.
• Water Sinking Test: If a small quantity of cement is thrown
into the water, it should float some time before finally
• The smell of Cement Paste: A thin paste of cement with
water should feel sticky between the fingers. If the cement
contains too much-pounded clay and silt as an adulterant,
the paste will give an earthy smell.
• Glass Plate Test: A thick paste of cement with water is
made on a piece of a glass plate and it is kept under water
for 24 hours. It should set and not crack.
• Block Test: A 25mm × 25mm × 200mm (1”×1”×8”) block of
cement with water is made. The block is then immersed in
water for three days. After removing, it is supported
150mm apart and a weight of 15kg uniformly placed over
it. If it shows no sign of failure the cement is good.
Types of Cement
1. Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC):
This is the most common type of cement which is extensively used. It has
good resistance to cracking and dry shrinkage but less resistance to
chemical attack. OPC is not suitable for the construction work which is
exposed to sulphates in the soil.
2. Rapid Hardening cement:
Rapid hardening cement is very similar to ordinary Portland cement
(OPC). The early strength is achieved by adding excessive C3S in the mix
and by lowering the C2S content in the cement. As the name itself
resembling that, this type of cement is used where there is a need for
high early strength. Ex. Pavements, busiest roadways.
The strength of Rapid Hardening cement at age of 3 days is almost same
as the 7 days strength of Ordinary Portland cement. It requires same
water-cement ratio as OPC. This type of cement is not used for massive
concrete constructions.
3. Low heat portland cement:
This type of cement is manufactured by lowering the C3S content and
increasing the C2S content. It possesses less compressive strength than
ordinary Portland cement. It has less lime content than OPC. This type of
cement is mostly used in the construction of retaining walls and it is
strictly not suitable for thin concrete structures.
4. Sulphate Resisting Portland Cement:
It is manufactured by keeping the percentage of C3A below 5%. This type
of cement is used where the structure is prone to severe sulphate
attacks(alkaline conditions) such as construction in the foundation of
soil, marine conditions, sewage treatment tanks.
5. High alumina Cement:
This type of cement has rich alumina content about 35% which helps in
gaining ultimate high strength within a short period. This type of cement
is used where a structure is subjected to the action of sea water,
chemical plants and furnaces.
6. Blast furnace slag cement:
This type of cement is cheaper than Ordinary Portland cement. it is
manufactured by intergrinding of OPC clinker and blast furnace slag.
Blast furnace slag cement develops low heat of hydration and has less
early strength.
7. Coloured Cement:
This type of cement is also known as Colcrete. It is manufactured by
adding coloring pigment to the OPC. it is used in joining tiles.
8. Pozzolana cement:
The pozzolana is a material which is formed due to the volcanic
eruptions. It is a siliceous material having about 80% clay in it. Pozzolana
cement is manufactured by mixing 30% of pozzolana to Ordinary
Portland cement clinkers. This type of cement is used in construction of
dams and weirs.
9. Air-entraining cement:
This type of cement is manufactured by adding 0.025–0.1% of air
entraining agents to the ordinary Portland cement clinker. Air entraining
agents are generally made up of wood resins, calcium agents, vegetable
oils and animal fats.
10. Hydrophobic cement:
This type of cement is manufactured by grinding ordinary Portland
cement clinker with water oleic acid or stearic acid. These acids forms as
a water repellent film around the cement particle which increases the
shelf life of cement. The formed around each grain of cement reduces
the rate of deterioration of the cement during long storage, transport, or
under unfavourable conditions. The film is broken out when the cement
and aggregate are mixed together at the mixer exposing the cement
particles for normal hydration.
11. Expansive cement:
This type of cement is manufactured by adding stabilizer which stabilizes
the cement to expand. This can be achieved by adding 8-20% of
sulphoaluminate & 15% of stabilizer to the ordinary Portland cement
Concrete made up of OPC shrinks while setting due to loss of free water.
Concrete also shrinks continuously for a long time. Cement used for
grouting should not shrink or change volume for this, we use expansive
cement. the expansive cement doesn’t show any volume change after
12. White Cement:
This type of cement is obtained by lowering the iron oxide content in the
Ordinary Portland cement. The strength and durability is same as OPC.
This type of cement is used for joining tiles and other interior works.
13. Waterproof portland cement:
This type of cement is manufactured by adding small percentages of
metal sereates in OPC during grinding. This type of cement is used in
foundations, water tanks & other water retaining structures.
14. Oil-well Cement:
In order to extract oil from the stratified sedimentary rocks, Oil wells are
dug to a greater depth. For safe pumping out of extracted oil steel casing
is inserted. It is likely that if oil is struck, oil or gas may escape through
the space between the rock formation and steel casing. To fill this space
Oil well cement is used. Oil well cement is manufactured by adding
retarders (Starches or cellular products) to Ordinary Portland cement.
• Aggregate
Aggregates are the important constituents of the concrete
which give body to the concrete and also reduce shrinkage.
Aggregates are mainly classified into two categories:
1. Fine Aggregate
2. Coarse Aggregate
In the following table the main differences between Fine and coarse aggregate are

Scopes Fine Aggregate Coarse Aggregate

1 Definition Fine aggregates are small Coarse aggregates are
size filler materials in larger size filler materials
construction. in construction.
2 Size of Particles Fine aggregates are the Coarse aggregates are the
particles that pass particles that retain on
through 4.75 mm sieve 4.75 mm sieve.
and retain on 0.075 mm
3 Materials Sand, stone screenings, Brick chips (broken
burnt clays, cinders, fly bricks), stone chips
ash, etc., are used as fine (broken stones), gravels,
aggregate in concrete. pebbles, clinkers, cinders
etc. are used as coarse
aggregate in concrete.
Scopes Fine Aggregate Coarse Aggregate
4 Sources River sand or machine Dolomite aggregates,
sand, crushed stone crushed gravel or stone,
sand, crushed gravel natural disintegration of
sand are the major rock are the major
sources of fine sources of coarse
aggregate. aggregate.
5 Surface Area The surface area of fine The surface area of
aggregates is higher. coarse aggregate is less
than fine aggregates.
6 Function in The voids between the Coarse aggregate acts as
Concrete coarse aggregate are inert filler material for
filled up by fine concrete.
7 Uses Fine aggregates are Coarse aggregates are
used in mortar, plaster, mainly used in concrete,
concrete, filling of road railway track ballast, etc.
pavement layers, etc.
Classification of Aggregates as per Size and Shape
Aggregates can be classified in many ways. Classification of
aggregates based on shape and size such as coarse and fine
aggregates are discussed here.
Classification of Aggregates Based on Shape
We know that aggregate is derived from naturally occurring
rocks by blasting or crushing etc., so, it is difficult to attain
required shape of aggregate. But, the shape of aggregate will
affect the workability of concrete. So, we should take care
about the shape of aggregate.
Aggregates are classified according to shape into the following types:
Rounded Aggregate

The rounded aggregates are completely shaped by attrition and available

in the form of seashore gravel. Rounded aggregates result the minimum
percentage of voids (32 – 33%) hence gives more workability. They are
not considered for high strength concrete because of poor interlocking
behavior and weak bond strength.
Irregular Aggregates

The irregular or partly rounded aggregates are partly shaped by attrition

and these are available in the form of pit sands and gravel. Irregular
aggregates may result 35- 37% of voids. These will give lesser workability
when compared to rounded aggregates. The bond strength is slightly
higher than rounded aggregates but not as required for high strength
Angular Aggregates

The angular aggregates consist well defined edges formed at the

intersection of roughly planar surfaces and these are obtained by
crushing the rocks. Angular aggregates result maximum percentage of
voids (38-45%) hence gives less workability. They give 10-20% more
compressive strength due to development of stronger aggregate-mortar
bond. So, these are useful in high strength concrete manufacturing.
Flaky Aggregates

When the aggregate thickness is small when compared with width and
length of that aggregate it is said to be flaky aggregate. Or in the other,
when the least dimension of aggregate is less than the 60% of its mean
dimension then it is said to be flaky aggregate.
Elongated Aggregates

When the length of aggregate is larger than the other two dimensions
then it is called elongated aggregate or the length of aggregate is greater
than 180% of its mean dimension.
Flaky and Elongated Aggregates

When the aggregate length is larger than its width and width is larger
than its thickness then it is said to be flaky and elongated aggregates.
The above 3 types of aggregates are not suitable for concrete mixing.
These are generally obtained from the poorly crushed rocks.
Classification of Aggregates Based on Size
Aggregates are available in nature in different sizes. The size
of aggregate used may be related to the mix proportions,
type of work etc. the size distribution of aggregates is called
grading of aggregates.
Aggregates are classified into 2 types according to size
1. Fine Aggregate
2. Coarse Aggregate
Fine Aggregate
When the aggregate is sieved through 4.75mm sieve, the aggregate passed
through it called as fine aggregate.

Fine Aggregate Size Variation

Coarse Sand 2.0mm – 0.5mm

Medium Sand 0.5mm – 0.25mm

Fine Sand 0.25mm – 0.06mm

Silt 0.06mm – 0.002mm

Clay <0.002mm
Coarse Aggregate
When the aggregate is sieved through 4.75mm sieve, the aggregate retained is
called coarse aggregate.

Coarse Aggregate Size

Fine Gravel 4mm – 8mm

Medium Gravel 8mm – 16mm

Coarse Gravel 16mm – 64mm

Cobbles 64mm – 256mm

Boulders >256mm
• Concrete Mixture Water
Concrete mixture water is a very sensitive and important raw
material used to provide the workability of concrete and to ensure
cement hydration. The reason for being sensitive and important is
the fact that the amount of water can affect all properties of fresh
and hardened concrete.
Concrete mixture water should be as clean as possible and there
should contain as much substances such as chloride, sulphate,
acid, sugar, organic materials, industrial waste, oil, clay and silt
which may be harmful.
Cement requires up to 25% of its weight for hydration. Water used more
than this amount is only aimed at increasing its workability. This, by time,
leaves the body of the concrete, leaving hollowness in its place. The
greater the amount of mixture water, the greater the hollows, and this
not only affects the strength, but also affects the durability of the
concrete negatively.
It is used for three different purposes in concrete production:
1. As "Mixture water" in the mixing of concrete with cement and
2. As "maintenance water" applied to the surface of fresh concrete
placed in its place.
3. As "washing water" to ensure that aggregates used in concrete are
• Admixture

Admixtures are the ingredients in concrete other than portland cement, water,
and aggregate that are added to the mix immediately before or during mixing.
Producers use admixtures primarily to reduce the cost of concrete construction;
to modify the properties of hardened concrete; to ensure the quality of concrete
during mixing, transporting, placing, and curing; and to overcome certain
emergencies during concrete operations.
Five Functions of RMC Admixtures
Admixtures are classed according to function. There are five
distinct classes of chemical admixtures: air-entraining, water-
reducing, retarding, accelerating, and plasticizers
(superplasticizers). All other varieties of admixtures fall into the
specialty category whose functions include corrosion inhibition,
shrinkage reduction, alkali-silica reactivity reduction, workability
enhancement, bonding, damp proofing, and coloring. Air-
entraining admixtures, which are used to purposely place
microscopic air bubbles into the concrete, are discussed more fully
in Air-Entrained Concrete.
Water-reducing admixtures usually reduce the required water
content for a concrete mixture by about 5 to 10 percent.
Consequently, concrete containing a water-reducing admixture
needs less water to reach a required slump than untreated
concrete. The treated concrete can have a lower water-cement
ratio. This usually indicates that a higher strength concrete can be
produced without increasing the amount of cement. Recent
advancements in admixture technology have led to the
development of mid-range water reducers. These admixtures
reduce water content by at least 8 percent and tend to be more
stable over a wider range of temperatures. Mid-range water
reducers provide more consistent setting times than standard
water reducers.
Retarding admixtures, which slow the setting rate of concrete, are
used to counteract the accelerating effect of hot weather on
concrete setting. High temperatures often cause an increased rate
of hardening which makes placing and finishing difficult. Retarders
keep concrete workable during placement and delay the initial set
of concrete. Most retarders also function as water reducers and
may entrain some air in concrete.
Accelerating admixtures increase the rate of early strength
development, reduce the time required for proper curing and
protection, and speed up the start of finishing operations.
Accelerating admixtures are especially useful for modifying the
properties of concrete in cold weather.
Superplasticizers, also known as plasticizers or high-range water
reducers (HRWR), reduce water content by 12 to 30 percent and
can be added to concrete with a low-to-normal slump and water-
cement ratio to make high-slump flowing concrete. Flowing
concrete is a highly fluid but workable concrete that can be placed
with little or no vibration or compaction. The effect of
superplasticizers lasts only 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the
brand and dosage rate, and is followed by a rapid loss in
workability. As a result of the slump loss, superplasticizers are
usually added to concrete at the jobsite.
Corrosion-inhibiting admixtures fall into the specialty admixture
category and are used to slow corrosion of reinforcing steel in
concrete. Corrosion inhibitors can be used as a defensive strategy
for concrete structures, such as marine facilities, highway bridges,
and parking garages, that will be exposed to high concentrations
of chloride. Other specialty admixtures include shrinkage-reducing
admixtures and alkali-silica reactivity inhibitors. The shrinkage
reducers are used to control drying shrinkage and minimize
cracking, while ASR inhibitors control durability problems
associated with alkali-silica reactivity.

Five classes of concrete are provided for this item, namely: A, B, C,

P, and Seal. Each class shall be used in that part of the structure as
called for on the plans.
The classes of concrete will general be used as follows:
Class A – All superstructures and heavily reinforced substructures.
The important parts of the structure included are slabs, beams,
girders, columns, arch ribs, box culverts, reinforced abutments,
retaining walls, and reinforced footings.
Class B – Footings, pedestals, massive pier shafts, pipe bedding,
and gravity walls, unreinforced or with only a small amount of
Class C – Thin reinforced section, railings, precast R.C. piles and
cribbing and for filler in steel grid floors.
Class P – Prestressed concrete structures and members.
Seal – Concrete deposited in water.

Grade of concrete denotes its strength required for construction. For

example, M30 grade signifies that compressive strength required for
construction is 30MPa. The first letter in grade “M” is the mix and 30 is
the required strength in MPa.
Based on various lab tests, grade of concrete is presented in Mix
Proportions. For example, for M30 grade, the mix proportion can be
1:1:2, where 1 is the ratio of cement, 1 is the ratio of sand and 2 is the
ratio of coarse aggregate based on volume or weight of materials.
The strength is measured with concrete cube or cylinders by civil
engineers at construction site. Cube or cylinders are made during
casting of structural member and after hardening it is cured for 28
days. Then compressive strength test is conducted to find the
Regular grades of concrete are M15, M20, M25 etc. For plain
cement concrete works, generally M15 is used. For reinforced
concrete construction minimum M20 grade of concrete are used.
The slump test is a means of assessing the consistency of fresh
concrete. It is used, indirectly, as a means of checking that the
correct amount of water has been added to the mix. The test is
carried out in accordance with BS EN 12350-2, Testing fresh
concrete. Slump test.
The steel slump cone is placed on a solid, impermeable, level base
and filled with the fresh concrete in three equal layers. Each layer
is rodded 25 times to ensure compaction. The third layer is
finished off level with the top of the cone. The cone is carefully
lifted up, leaving a heap of concrete that settles or ‘slumps’
slightly. The upturned slump cone is placed on the base to act as a
reference, and the difference in level between its top and the top
of the concrete is measured and recorded to the nearest 10mm to
give the slump of the concrete.
When the cone is removed, the slump may take one of three forms. In a true
slump the concrete simply subsides, keeping more or less to shape. In a shear
slump the top portion of the concrete shears off and slips sideways. In a collapse
slump the concrete collapses completely. Only a true slump is of any use in the
test. If a shear or collapse slump is achieved, a fresh sample should be taken and
the test repeated. A collapse slump will generally mean that the mix is too wet or
that it is a high workability mix, for which the flow test (see separate entry) is
more appropriate.

Concrete is generally used in two types of construction, i.e. plain

concrete construction and reinforced concrete construction. In PCC, it is
poured and casted without use of any reinforcement. This is used when
the structural member is subjected only to the compressive forces and
not bending.
When a structural member is subjected to bending, reinforcements are
required to withstand tension forces structural member as it is very weak
in tension compared to compression. Generally, strength of concrete in
tension is only 10% of its strength in compression.

The construction steps are:

• Selecting quantities of materials for selected mix proportion
• Mixing
• Checking of workability
• Transportation
• Pouring in formwork for casting
• Vibrating for proper compaction
• Removal of formwork after suitable time
• Curing member with suitable methods and required time.

Concrete repair is the process of fixing a hardened concrete

surface that over time has lost the ability to hold the binding
concrete materials together due to damage or environmental
exposure. Concrete repair is appropriate for cracks, physical
impacts, chipped out surfaces or surface scaling.
There are various ways to repair a concrete surface, which require
some specific procedural steps, such as:
1. Clean the concrete surface to ensure that no loose material
such as chipped out concrete flakes or granules, oil, grease or dirt
exist. A chisel or a sledgehammer can be used if required.
2. Use a bristle brush and broom to clean and scrub the area to be
3. Flush the area with water to ensure no loose material is left
4. Use one of the various cement repair solutions available in the
market such as a vinyl-patching compound that can be mixed with
water or any sort of bonding agent. Usually a bonding agent is
5. Trowel the mixture into the cracks and broken areas, and tap
properly to remove air gaps. Level the surface and make it
6. Allow the surface to dry.