Concrete has an interesting history. Evidence shows that the early Romans worked with concrete as early as 200 BC and as you might have already guessed, they used it to build their aqueducts and bridges.

In 1752, English engineer John Smeaton discovered how to make concrete waterproof and he used it to build the Eddystone lighthouse in England.

What Is Concrete?

Today, concrete is the most commonly used material in home improvement. Made from a mixture of sand, gravel, cement, and water, concrete is used to build things like walls, floors, and patio foundations. A special type of waterproof concrete is used for home improvement projects near water or an area that’s exposed to moisture on a regular basis. A prime candidate for waterproof concrete work is a basement in the mid-west section of the country.

Concrete and Cement Are Not the Same

It’s a common mistake, but many people call concrete, ‘cement’, when the two are very different. Cement is a powder made of a mixture of calcified limestone and clay, and it’s used with water and sand or gravel to make concrete. Concrete – is made out of cement (and other things). Used interchangeably, most people understand that when we say that we need a cement job, we’re actually referring to a concrete job.

Why We Build Things With Concrete

One reason is its strength. Concrete is famous for its ability to withstand heavy weight and pressure. That’s why it’s the most sensible choice for foundations that support homes or large quantities of water like swimming pools and the denser the concrete, the stronger it is. If you’re experiencing cracked concrete, chances are it is the result of poor mixing – mixing with too much water that is.

Good strong concrete, such as that used to build a sturdy sidewalk or driveway for example, is mixed with just the right amount of water and is allowed to ‘cure.’ Concrete becomes stronger as long as it’s allowed to sit and cure naturally without the use of artificial tools (fans, hot air, etc.). In fact, concrete is best cured by keeping it wet for a period of about three days.

In cold weather, contractors are careful not to let freshly laid concrete freeze by covering it with a tarp. But in areas where the weather is fiercely cold or in freezing temperatures, concrete is cured with hot air while still maintaining an appropriate amount of moisture.

Another reason why we use concrete is because it’s inexpensive, it’s elastic (at particular stages), and it will continue to harden even while wet. Better yet is its ease to work with. If the concrete is properly prepared (mixed correctly), it isn’t difficult to manipulate.

From Pour to Finish

All in all, concrete will dry (cure) within a matter of days however if special agents, such as drying agents are mixed in with the concrete before it’s poured, it could dry in as little as an hour. For maximum results, be sure to follow the instructions that your contractor gives you after getting a concrete job. There are just too many horror stories where customers were upset with the quality of a concrete job, only to find out that they were at fault for not following the contractor’s care instructions!