Is Concrete Right for Your Project? Stonehill Construction Blog Erin O. Nov 30 2016 If you work in construction, are a general contractor, or handle commercial maintenance, concrete work is something you must be familiar with. This versatile material has many uses, and is a growing global business. In fact, in 2011 the global cement market was sized at around 237 billion U.S. dollars, a statistic that is only expected to grow. Here are some frequently asked questions concerning concrete and its uses. What is the difference between concrete and cement? Simply put, concrete is made of cement, water, sand, and stone. On the other hand, cement is a fine powder made from limestone, sand, and clay which is mixed together then heated in a kiln and eventually mixed with water. What is concrete used for? First and foremost, concrete is considered one of the most versatile building materials used in construction. Concrete work is very functional and can be used to make large steel girders, steel decking, building columns, driveways, house foundations, paving, curbs, drainage piping, and underground vaults. The list can go on and on! How is the strength of concrete measured? The chemical reaction between concrete powder and water is what gives this material its strength. Typically, concrete strength is measured by compressive and flexural strength in pounds per square inch (PSI). It is important to know that when you order a bag of concrete mix, you are ordering a specific quantity of cement per cubic yard of concrete. How long does it take for concrete to harden? This depends on the amount you have used, but generally contractors measure concrete strength in intervals of seven days, 14 days, or 28 days. However for bigger projects, it can take up to 56 days to full dry. In fact, some experts believe the innermost layers of the Hoover Damn are still drying, and it was built in 1931! Can I use extra products in my concrete work? Yes, some extra products can speed up the drying process and decrease the hydration rate of the product. They include: Retarder: retarder is used to decrease the hydration rate of the concrete, which will give you more time to place and finish laying the concrete before it dries. Water reducers: these are often used to increase the work-ability and the strength of the concrete for heavy-duty industrial projects. Accelerators: one can use an accelerator during the wintertime to speed up the drying process of the concrete so it does not crack or buckle in the cold temperatures. All in all, concrete is an exceptionally versatile product for all sorts of projects. Contact Stone Hill Construction today to order your next concrete supply.