Portland cement and concrete, though often mixed up by the layperson, are in reality two incredibly different substances with incredibly different functions. Understanding what Portland cement is, as well as how it’s made, is critical to correct communication with your concrete contractor—and thus your project’s success.
Creative Concrete, your New Brighton stamped concrete professionals, are here with a brief primer on the topic below.
What’s Portland Cement?
On a surface level: it’s part of the mixture that makes up concrete! Indeed, each slab of concrete driveway laid or each pattern of decorative concrete created owes its existence to this fantastic component.
Portland cement has been in use since the early nineteenth century, according to the Portland Cement Association—and interestingly enough, it came from England, not Oregon! It’s a combination of calcium, silicon, aluminum, and iron, and a variety of other ingredients, including but not limited to shale, shells, and clay. When combined with water, Portland cement turns into a paste, which then hardens into the final concrete structure. Generally, it’s found in a simple grey color, though white varieties also exist.
According to the Concrete Contractors Association of Greater Chicago, Portland cement should comprise of 10 to 15 percent of the concrete mix, by volume.”
How is Portland Cement Made?
It’s a lot more complicated than tossing a bunch of ingredients together and hoping for the best! The chemical reaction between all of Portland cement’s components must be closely monitored for the best results—a lot more complicated than the first batch, which was made in an at-home stove.
In plain terms, the substances must first be gathered and smashed into manageable pieces. Once small enough, it’s combined with additives and heated in a kiln. It emerges in tightly packed spheres called clinker, which then is ground and mixed with gypsum to make the final product.
Though this is by far the most common method of producing Portland cement, some producers grind up the raw components using water before the kiln has its way with them. This, fittingly, is known as the “wet method.” While it tends to take a lot more energy and take longer than its dry counterpart, the final product is said to be of a higher quality.
Creative Concrete: Dedicated to the Stamped Concrete Craft
Our New Brighton team knows and respects every step that goes into the concrete-making process—and we’d be happy to pass that dedication to the craft on in your project, whether it’s a concrete patio or driveway. Give us a call today at 612-414-7932.