Concrete and Its Properties
It is a mixture of paste (cement & water) and aggregates (sand & stone) to define concrete simply. The paste layers the surface of the fine (sand) and coarse (stone) aggregates and binds them together into a rock-like mass known as concrete. Concrete also contains other additives such as highly specialized chemical admixtures that enhance the specific properties of concrete. They are used to improve both the workability and/or the durability of concrete.
The key to achieving robust and durable concrete for your projects are as follows:
Utilizing high-quality raw materials
Ordering the proper concrete for the application
Skillful placement and finishing
Following proper curing practices and protecting the concrete
The First Step:
The first step involves utilizing high-quality raw materials. All Ready Mixed Concrete Association of Ontario (RMCAO) members use only natural materials that satisfy CSA standards for concrete production.
The Second Step:
Keep in mind the minimum concrete specifications required for your concrete application. The Ontario Building Code and CSA A23.1 dictate the requirements - Concrete Materials and Methods of Concrete Construction. Ask your contractor the minimum requirements they propose to use for your project. If they use anything less than these standards or are not aware of the minimum requirements, you should hire another contractor.
The Third Step:
Hire a quality contractor for your project. Make sure your contractor has a certification standard, such as the ACI Flatwork Finishers Certification Course. You must also ask for a list of previous projects and references. Visit projects that are at least two winters old to look for any signs of deterioration.
The Final and Most Important Step:
Your contractor should follow proper curing methods and cures the concrete effectively. For all exterior concrete flatwork, at least seven days of curing is needed and a minimum of three days for all other concrete. If done improperly, all the excellent work done previously gets negated. Care must also be taken to maintain and protect your concrete investment. And lastly, don’t use icing chemicals for the first 12 months and protect the concrete with concrete sealers.