Concrete is one of the most basic and versatile materials used in construction today. It also has a long history going back thousands of years. For strength and durability, it hasn’t been matched. It can be put to many different uses – homes, bridges, roads and driveways (asphalt is a type of concrete), parking lots, dams and canals. Once set, it can last for up to 50 years, needing only minor repairs along the way.
Concrete has been used for thousands of years
The history of concrete goes back thousands of years. It basically consists of abrasives in a binding cement, which dries to a waterproof hardness. Its origins are unknown but it was most widely used in the ancient world by the Romans, whose impressive feats of civil engineering were based on its properties.
The bridges, buildings, aqueducts and monuments scattered across the territories governed by the Roman Empire speak to the versatility and strength of concrete. Before it sets, it can be shaped as desired, making utilitarian constructions attractive to look at as well. The Romans also discovered that adding different materials gave it different properties. Adding volcanic ash made it set under water, and horsehair prevented it from cracking.
Concrete can now be recycled
Nowadays concrete consists of abrasives like sand, natural gravel, and crushed stone, with cement used as a binder. Colors and designs can be added by varying the aggregates used or with chemical additives. It is now available in as many as 250 colors, and landscape designers and architects take advantage of this fact.
Reinforced concrete contains steel rods or steel, glass or plastic fibers to increase tensile strength. Most concrete is produced locally because it is too heavy to transport over long distances. Until recently, in the U.S., when buildings were demolished, the concrete was simply sent to a landfill. It is now increasingly being recycled.
Asphalt driveways and roads are lasting and durable
A concrete driveway that is properly installed and maintained will have a lifespan of 25 to 50 years. Concrete repairs can extend its lifespan by decades. Asphalt is a type of concrete where the binding material is bitumen. It is the commonest material used for surfacing paved roads, and covers over 94% or 2.6 million miles of road surface in the U.S. More than 90% of parking lots in the U.S. are also covered with asphalt.
Like concrete, asphalt is produced near the sites where it will be used. There are around 3,500 production sites for asphalt nationwide and they produce around 359 million tons of material each year. Also like concrete, asphalt can be reclaimed and recycled. Of the 67.8 million tons of asphalt reclaimed in 2013, almost all of it was reused.
If your driveway needs repairs, concrete and asphalt contractors can do the job in a matter of hours. Once the repairs have dried out, you have decades of useful life in your driveway.
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