As a Mississauga concrete contractor, one of our duties is to educate our clients so that they understand the process that we take to completing a concrete project. Why do we do this? It is so that you can understand exactly what it is that we do and take comfort that the project will be done right.
To kick off our concrete fact series, we want to clear the air on the definition of concrete. One of the many things that we hear from clients is the interchangeable use concrete and cement terminology. These words are not interchangeable as one of these terms is actually a subset of the other.
Any ideas what that may be?
If you guessed that cement is an ingredient in concrete you are correct! Cement is just one of three key components of concrete. The other two key components are water and aggregate (which can be rock, sand or gravel).
Cement (or commonly known as Portland Cement) is a powder that acts as a binding agent that holds everything together. Cement is made from naturally occurring minerals that contain limestone (usually) and clay (technically known as silicon dioxide). When these minerals are super-heated, they chemically transform into hard marble-like nodules called clinker which is then finely grounded into a powder. When the cement is mixed with water, it forms incredibly strong bonds with sand and other aggregates, to create this mixture which solidifies into one durable rock-solid mass. There is also the possibility that admixtures are added to change and/or enhance the properties of concrete such as tensile strength, entrainment of air, and/or water resistance.
Watch this video from BASF of how cement and concrete is made:
One of the things that we do as a concrete contractor is make sure that the concrete is “fit for purpose”. That means that when we determine what the concrete area is going to be used for and we make sure that the ingredients are proportioned and engineered to produce a concrete of a specific strength and durability for that use. For example, concrete that is used for a driveway may not necessarily be the same mixture and proportion of ingredients for a bridge.
Why is that?
If you consider that bridge will need to support a car or truck or multiple cars and trucks that may be parked on it versus a foundation wall, you’ll understand that we want the mixture of ingredients to be strong enough to withstand for its intended use. With that being said, Markstone Landscaping is committed to providing clients a finished product that meets the Ontario Building Code. If you look at the following chart for concrete in the Ontario Building Code and CSA A23.1, you’ll see that there are minimum specifications of concrete that a concrete contractor must follow to ensure your safety and that the concrete is strong enough for its intended use.
The majority, if not all of Markstone Landscaping’s concrete projects are outdoors. The chart shows the minimum compressive strength for concrete that is exposed to freeze-thaw, deicing salts on walkways, driveways, patios, and steps is 32 MPa. MPa (megapascals) is the metric measurement for psi or pounds per square inch and it is how the concrete industry measures strength capacity. We make sure that when we order the concrete it meets this specific requirement.
Lastly, we are fans of concrete because it is virtually all natural and it’s recyclable. It is also flexible and functional which can be fabricated into all sorts of shapes and structural systems which makes it a heavy favourite as a construction material to be used in today’s skyscrapers, canals, dams, pipes, roads, houses, sidewalks/walkways, and even your driveway.
At Markstone Landscaping, we specialize in concrete, hence we receive many questions regarding this durable and versatile material. As such, we have compiled the top 5 most common concrete & concrete installation questions asked and also the pros & cons of concrete for your reference. Trying to find out the average cost of concrete landscape installation in Ontario? Read our article “How Much Do Concrete Driveways Cost in Ontario” or simply reach out to us and we will walk you through all the questions you may have.