Introduction to Concrete

Introduction to Concrete

Plain concrete

Plain concrete, commonly known as concrete, is an intimate mixture of binding material, fine aggregate, coarse aggregate and water. This can be easily moulded to desired shape and size before it looses plasticity and hardens. Plain concrete is strong in compression but very weak in tension. The tensile property is introduced in concrete by inducting different materials and this attempt has given rise to RCC, RBC, PSC, FRC, cellular concrete and Ferro cement. In this chapter proportioning, mixing, curing, properties, tests and uses of plain concrete is dealt in detail. The other improved versions of concrete are explained and their special properties and uses are pointed out.


Major ingredients of concrete are:

1. Binding material (like cement, lime, polymer)

2. Fine aggregate (sand)

3. Coarse aggregates (crushed stone, jelly)

4. Water.

A small quantity of admixtures like air entraining agents, water proofing agents, workability agents etc. may also be added to impart special properties to the plain concrete mixture.

Depending upon the proportion of ingredient, strength of concrete varies. It is possible to determine the proportion of the ingredients for a particular strength by mix design procedure. In the

absence of mix design the ingredients are proportioned as 1:1:2, 1:1¹/₂:3, 1:2:4, 1:3:6 and 1:4:8, which is the ratio of weights of cement to sand to coarse aggregate.

In proportioning of concrete it is kept in mind that voids in coarse aggregates are filled with sand and the voids in sand are filled with cement paste. Proportion of ingredients usually adopted for various works are shown in Below image.

Functions of Various Ingredients

Cement is the binding material. After addition of water it hydrates and binds aggregates and the surrounding surfaces like stone and bricks. Generally richer mix (with more cement) gives more strength. Setting time starts after 30 minutes and ends after 6 hours. Hence concrete should be laid in its mould before 30 minutes of mixing of water and should not be subjected to any external forces till final setting takes place.

Coarse aggregate consists of crushed stones. It should be well graded and the stones should be of igneous origin. They should be clean, sharp, angular and hard. They give mass to the concrete and prevent shrinkage of cement. Fine aggregate consists of river sand. It prevents shrinkage of cement. When surrounded by cement it gains mobility enters the voids in coarse aggregates and binding of ingradients takes place. It adds density to concrete, since it fills the voids. Denser the concrete higher is its strength.

Water used for making concrete should be clean. It activates the hydration of cement and forms plastic mass. As it sets completely concrete becomes hard mass. Water gives workability to concrete which means water makes it possible to mix the concrete with ease and place it in final position. More the water better is the workability. However excess water reduces the strength of concrete. Figure 3.1 shows the variation of strength of concrete with water cement ratio. To achieve required workability and at the same time good strength a water cement ratio of 0.4 to 0.45 is used, in case of machine mixing and water cement ratio of 0.5 to 0.6 is used for hand mixing.