Which Type of Concrete is Right for Your Home?

Which Type of Concrete is Right for Your Home?

Which type of concrete is right for your home? 

The answer to this question can be complicated because there are many different types of concrete available–each with their own benefits. 

For example, some people prefer the aesthetic appeal of decorative concrete, while others may want ready mix concrete if they’re on a strict timeline. 

In today’s blog post, we will explore all the options available so you can make an informed decision about which type of concrete is best for your project.

Decorative concrete 

This is a great choice for homeowners who want to add some extra flair to their property. Decorative concrete can be stamped or stained to create a unique look that will enhance the appearance of your home. 

It can also come in pre-designed, etched slabs and is most often used on walls. Not to mention, it’s also very durable, so you can be sure it will last for many years.

Transit mix concrete 

If you have a large job that requires high volumes of concrete, then transit mix is the way to go. This type of material is often used when contractors need to pour a large cement slab or foundation in one fell swoop. It’s important to note, however, that most concrete companies will have a minimum order amount for transit mix concrete.

Bulk dry materials 

For homeowners looking for a simple and cost-effective option, bulk dry materials can be a great choice. They’re typically used by contractors or homeowners with experience mixing concrete and are perfect for large projects.

Ready mix concrete 

Ready mix concrete is ideal for homeowners who don’t have a lot of time to spare. This type of concrete comes premixed, executing your project on a quicker timeline than custom orders like decorative concrete. 

For homeowners who are trying to create the perfect blend of strength and beauty for their home improvement projects, ready mix may be the right choice. In most cases, this type of concrete doesn’t need additives or special equipment because it comes ready to go.

Dry ready mix concrete

Dry ready mix is available for purchase in large bags. Simply add water as directed and you’ll have your own concrete in minutes that can be used for various projects. This type of concrete is often used in small projects and is well-known for its simplicity when it comes to mixing and pouring. 

Concrete has come a long way over the years, and there are now many different types available to choose from. By taking the time to carefully consider your options, you can find the perfect material for your home improvement projects. 

Port Aggregates offers the highest quality ready mix concrete in central and southwest Louisiana. It’s why we’ve been a trusted contractor for over 40 years! Contact us today to request a quote and get started on your residential project. We look forward to helping you build or renovate your home using concrete.

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Break Tests vs the Maturity Method

Break Tests vs the Maturity Method

Every year, contractors all over are looking to improve their concrete building practices. For many this past year, that has likely meant fine-tuning their logistics to adapt to the global shipping crisis. However, that crisis is still ongoing, which means contractors will face more delays while attempting to complete their construction projects on time.

Delays can waste a lot of valuable time. So to counter that loss, contractors should consider what they can do to become even more efficient.

One way to boost efficiency is to simply consider how you evaluate your concrete’s compressive strength development. Are you solely relying on break tests? If so, you’re missing out on a faster, simpler, and more accurate method: the maturity method.

To see why that is, we’ve once again brought on Maturix’s instructional designer, Marina Salvador, to explain why.

(Want to see her definition for the maturity method first? Take a look at her post here.)

Is Either Concrete Strength Assessment That Crucial to Worksite Efficiency?’

In a word, yes. For construction projects, knowing concrete strength is crucial as many future decisions depend on it. Decisions such as determining when to remove forms, schedule post-tensioning operations, open bridges and roads to traffic, and remove heating measures against cold weather all depend on having the right concrete strength.

Break tests and the maturity method are two approaches on how to determine that strength.

A lab worker is placing a cylinder concrete sample in the compression strength test machine.

What about Break Tests? How Exactly Do They Work?

Break tests are the traditional and established way to test the compressive strength of concrete. And they do so by using a destructive approach by crushing concrete cylinders or cubes and measuring the pressure of that crushing until the cylinder or cube breaks.

Under this method, test samples are casted and cured either at the jobsite or in a testing laboratory. When placed on-site, the samples are placed as close as possible to the structure to replicate the same curing conditions. These are also known as field-cured specimens. In testing labs, the samples are cured under controlled conditions. For instance, these may be in water tanks that are kept at a constant temperature, which is also known as standard curing.

After a certain amount of curing time, the samples undergo break tests. Each sample is placed in a compression test machine. Then, pressure is applied to the top and bottom of each sample until the samples break. Once they fail to withstand the pressure, the compressive strength can be calculated, which is done by dividing the failing load with the cross-sectional area resisting the load.

The results of these tests are used to validate concrete strength for a wide range of factors. These can include helping contractors determine when to move to the next step in construction and helping them document and validate the 28-day strength of concrete.

A cluster of concrete cylinder samples rest together after being cracked from compression testing.

What Are the Advantages and Limitations of This Specific Test?

Break tests are common for a good reason. But that doesn’t mean they don’t come with limitations.


Break tests are one of the most commonly used methods for estimating the compressive strength of concrete. They’re accepted internationally and have been standardized in almost every country.


But do break tests accurately represent the actual strength of a structure?

One of the main limitations of these tests is the difference of mass between the concrete samples and the concrete structure. This difference is important because it affects the heat emitted during the cement hydration process. And the amount of emitted heat affects the concrete’s strength development speed.

For instance, let’s observe the following graph. We can see that the strength development in the test sample (represented in purple) does not follow the same development as the corners of a mass structure. Instead, it has a slower strength development due to the temperature history of the cylinder being lower.

A graph is showing the concrete strength development of four corners of a mass structure and one test cylinder. It shows that the test cylinder has a lower strength development compared to the structure's corners.

Additionally, when using break tests, it is assumed that the structure cures at the same speed everywhere. However, in a structure, there are zones that will cure faster than others due to temperature differences. For instance, a concrete structure’s surface is normally more exposed to cold air, winds, and different weather conditions. These will all directly affect the strength development of the concrete at the surface.

For all these reasons, there is room for debate about whether break tests are representative of the structure’s actual in-place strength. The smaller volume and lower temperatures of samples will always result in a different rate of strength development when compared to the volume and temperature of a full concrete structure.

A senior construction worker is holding a blueprint and contemplating it at a construction site.

With These Limitations, Can Break Test Results Be Trusted?

Low breaks or inconsistent compressive strength test results is a common problem in the construction industry. Still, there are many standard procedures that describe how to properly handle and prepare test samples. However, these procedures are often not done according to the specifications, producing inconsistent results.

That makes it difficult to identify what the cause of those results might be. A low break result could indicate that the concrete mix was not designed well. It could also indicate that the supplied material was not up to the specifications. But it might also have happened for a number of other reasons. These might be because the samples were not prepared or cured properly, they were damaged during transport, or the testing machine was not calibrated properly.

With no clear identifiable cause, a project’s success will quickly become uncertain as it would be harder to determine how to proceed next, wasting a lot of time as contractors wait while they investigate different possible causes.

An image of a construction worker holding a Maturix Sensor is right next to a different image with a person's hand holding a tablet that is showing the data from the sensor in a coffee shop.
What about the Maturity Method? How Does It Work?

The maturity method is a non-destructive method that can be used to estimate the early-age strength development of concrete.

Under this method, you start by performing a maturity calibration in a laboratory to find the correlation between time, temperature, and strength. During this calibration, you make some samples with a concrete mixture that will be used in a project and instrument some of them with temperature sensors and recording devices. The samples are then cured under the same conditions, and the temperature history is measured using the sensors. Workers will then conduct break tests on those samples at different test ages to determine their compressive strength.

With the strength data from the break tests and the maturity from the temperature history, a best-fitting curve (or a maturity curve) is plotted through the data points. This curve represents the strength-maturity relationship for the concrete mix.

After having performed this maturity calibration, the in-place concrete strength can be estimated by placing temperature sensors in the concrete structure and using a maturity system like Maturix. With Maturix, both the maturity from the structure’s temperature history and the in-place concrete strength is automatically calculated in real time.

A Maturix Sensor is attached to an orange pole.

What Advantages and Limitations Can Contractors Expect from It?

Much like conducting break tests, using Maturix has its own set of pros and cons for contractors to consider.


Maturix overcomes many of the limitations that come with break tests.

To start, using Maturix greatly reduces the use of testing facilities and personnel. That is because it gathers information through temperature sensors that are embedded into the concrete. This results in time and cost savings on making, handling, transporting, and testing concrete samples.

On top of that, it is easy to get clear identifiable results. So instead of making guesses about when the concrete’s strength is sufficient to test the samples, contractors can use the maturity method, which indicates when the concrete has reached the desired strength threshold. That eliminates a lot of uncertainty and helps projects become more efficient, data-driven, and proactive, which improves decision-making.

Contractors can also get a more accurate estimation of their structure’s in-place strength development when using the maturity method. It allows them to monitor the actual conditions of their structure, including the temperature and strength development in critical zones.

At the same time, a maturity method system like Maturix offers real-time remote data collection. So contractors can continuously monitor their structure. That gives them a more complete overview of the curing process and the concrete’s compressive strength development. In turn, that can help them ensure that they do not exceed certain temperatures and that they keep the concrete’s core and surface differential temperatures within specified thresholds.


Despite its many advantages, the maturity method does have limitations. The first one is that it is required to perform a maturity calibration for each concrete mix to estimate the compressive strength. The second is that high variances in the delivered batching can affect the accuracy of the strength estimation, since the mix designs will be different. The third is that many countries still require 28-day compressive strength tests, which the maturity method cannot replace. However, the number of break tests used for other purposes, such as determining when to continue with different processes, can be significantly reduced.

Workers are spreading concrete across a structure.

What Does This Mean for Your Construction?

There are still some limitations when it comes to a full replacement of break tests. After all, the results of these are often a requirement to comply with concrete construction standards. However, the often inaccurate results produced by break tests make them less efficient. But Maturix can use the actual temperature history of a concrete structure to give contractors a more accurate estimation of the concrete’s compressive strength.

So which method should you go with? The best approach is to use each method based on what they are well-suited to do.

With the maturity method, for instance, contractors get continuous information on critical items like temperature samples every 20 minutes. That is great for keeping track of the curing process. And that is especially the case when in comparison to break test samples that are only done after seven, 14, or 28 days. In short, having the data that comes from the maturity method will give you a much better idea of where your concrete is heading and when you can expect to achieve the required strength for your structure.

On the other hand, break tests are good for validating your choice of concrete. More specifically, it validates that your chosen concrete has the ability to reach the required strength within the specified time. That also confirms when your in-situ casted concrete has reached the right number of maturity days. So you know that your concrete strength matches the requirement.

In the end, depending on your project’s needs, monitoring your concrete pour’s development continuously, validating your concrete strength, or using a combination of the two may be the most ideal method. And if efficiency is your key concern, Maturix’s maturity method may offer the most assistance with its ability to speed up construction work and enhance decision-making.

Simplify your concrete monitoring! Learn how you can cut costs and save time by measuring your concrete's temperature with reusable Maturix Sensors. Watch our video on this today!

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Your Guide to the Most Common Types of Concrete

Your Guide to the Most Common Types of Concrete

Concrete is an integral part of the modern world. It’s used to build everything from sidewalks and driveways to skyscrapers and dams, but many people are unaware of just how many options are available. 

There are endless types of concrete, each with unique properties that make them ideal for certain applications. This article will introduce you to the most common types so you can decide which will best suit your needs.

1. Lightweight concrete

Lightweight concrete is made up of water, polystyrene particles, cement, and other additives. It’s lighter than regular concrete and is used for applications that require the least amount of weight possible, such as roofing and flooring.

Lightweight concrete also has better insulation properties and a lower density than regular concrete, making it ideal for use in climates where heating and cooling costs are a drain on the wallet. Proper installation is essential to ensure that lightweight concrete performs as expected. Be sure you choose a contractor with extensive experience using this type of concrete.

2. Reinforced concrete

Reinforced concrete is made with steel rebar or mesh that’s embedded in the wet concrete. It’s much stronger than regular concrete and can withstand greater loads without breaking.

Reinforced concrete is used for heavy-duty applications such as bridges, parking garages, and skyscrapers, and is common in both residential and commercial foundations and slabs. While it is more expensive than regular concrete, it’s also stronger and longer-lasting. 

There are two types of reinforcement: steel rebar or a fiber mesh. While both offer strength benefits over standard concrete, steel offers slightly more strength, but fiber mesh is less expensive and easier to install.

3. Polished concrete

Polished concrete is a type of flooring that’s made from regular concrete. It can be used in both residential and commercial applications and is becoming increasingly popular due to its aesthetic appeal and durability.

This type of concrete offers a shiny and smooth surface that’s ideal for offices, stores, restaurants, healthcare facilities, schools, and more.

Concrete polishing is something that should only be done by professionals because improper installation can damage the surface of your polished flooring. If done incorrectly, polishing can also void the warranty on your flooring.

4. Mass concrete

Mass concrete is poured into ready-made molds. It’s a type of precast concrete made from regular or lightweight aggregate. It’s commonly used to create dams and large foundation slabs.

Mass concrete is similar to standard concrete with just one main difference: mass aggregates are larger than standard aggregates. This makes the concrete less dense, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your needs.

5. Prestressed concrete

Prestressed concrete is made with steel cables that are stretched prior to installation using hydraulic jacks, which creates tension on the beams as they set. This compression adds strength to the concrete and minimizes cracking but also makes it more expensive.

6. Precast concrete

Precast concrete is molded in a factory setting, which allows for more precise measurements and a higher level of quality control. Because it’s cured under controlled conditions, a stronger product is yielded that is less likely to crack. It’s also easier to install than standard concrete, helping you ensure quality and efficiency and avoid installation issues. 

7. Ready mix concrete

Ready mix concrete is a type of concrete made in a plant and delivered to the job site in a ready-to-use form. It can be used in both residential and commercial applications, but it’s most commonly used for foundations, walls, and slabs.

At Port Aggregates, our concrete mixes are made using limestone instead of gravel, adding extra strength to your product. When you order from us, you can expect superior quality, lower costs, on-site quality control, prompt scheduling, fast turnaround, and more. Contact us today to request a quote

The post Your Guide to the Most Common Types of Concrete appeared first on Port Aggregates.

Choosing a Waterproofing Strategy for Below Grade Applications: A Fourth Alternative

Choosing a Waterproofing Strategy for Below Grade Applications: A Fourth Alternative

Considering the right waterproofing strategy from the design stage is crucial for the success of below grade projects. However, there is no one right answer.

So when faced with this decision, the designer of a project will often start by selecting from several types of external membranes. These include unbonded, fully bonded, and compartmented systems. Each of which will affect the outcome of a project differently.

But no matter their choice, a designer will have many variables to consider.

That can be difficult to navigate. So to help you determine the best strategy for your project needs, let’s look at the factors that affect waterproofing decisions and outcomes and whether there’s a better alternative altogether.

The Factors That Affect the Selection and Outcomes of the Three Membrane Types

Designers typically select one of the three waterproofing membrane types based on the following factors:

Perceived risk of using the systemAccessibility for repairing system defectsQuality control tools of the selected systemOverall cost

Perceived Risk

Out of the three waterproofing membrane categories, there is one that is seen as less risky.

A bitumen waterproofing membrane rests partially unrolled on the ground.

Many View the Use of Fully Bonded Systems as the Reliable Waterproofing Strategy

The idea is that in case of failure, water cannot travel freely between the membrane and structural concrete, so any damage will be localized. That minimizes the cost and scope of the repairs needed.

Despite that big advantage, fully bonded systems also have their drawbacks. They are not flexible when bonded. They cannot bond properly to the structural concrete if not applied properly and in dusty conditions. And most importantly, these bonded systems are thin, making it easy for them to get damaged.

Still, these particular systems tend to remain less risky than others, even when it comes to application errors (see Figure 1).
On a graph that compares risk and application errors, unbonded membrane systems are the most at risk while compartmented membrane systems are at second place and fully bonded membrane systems are last.

A group of construction workers are working on pouring concrete at a worksite.

That Risk Changes, However, When Bad Concreting Practices Are Involved

Note how the dynamics change with bad concreting practices. The risk associated with application errors deviates as follows (see Figure 2).

The risk of application errors change when bad concreting practices are involved, making fully bonded membrane systems a bit riskier but still not as risky as unbonded membrane systems.

In this scenario, the bond between the membrane and structural concrete would have been compromised. Once that occurs, a fully bonded system will become riskier than a compartmented system due to the following reasons (among others):

Membranes in fully bonded systems tend to be thinner than ones in compartmented systemsThey don’t have horizontal and vertical protection as many compartmented systems doThey also do not have the same reactive system for repairs with flanges in each compartment

No matter the system, however, the risk related to application errors is shown as much steeper (as seen in Figure 2) when there are bad concreting practices involved. You need only compare the risk to a project with good concreting practices to see the significant impact (as shown in Figure 1).

ccessibility for Repairing System Defects

For stakeholders who prefer a waterproofing system that workers can access for repairs if something does go wrong, compartmented systems are perceived as the best (see Figure 3).

Why is that the case?

It’s mainly because it is possible to attempt to repair each leaking compartment of the system with injection flanges.

As for the other waterproofing systems, the unbonded one remains the riskiest, as it would be very hard to determine the source of its leakages.

Again, what adds to the complexity of just selecting the best perceived waterproofing system is a poor concreting application.

In this case, combining a poor concreting application with a compartmented system means water is more likely to migrate between compartments. That will increase the risk of the compartmented system’s waterstops not bonding adequately to the structural concrete. At the same time, isolating individual compartments in the system and repairing them with flanges will become less effective, since the water will be migrating between adjacent compartments. And that leads to a change in risk assessment (as seen in Figure 4).

The risk to application errors graph shows poor concreting practices increase the risk of compartmented membrane systems so that they are closer in terms of risk to fully bonded membrane systems.

Quality Control Tools

For stakeholders who depend on quality control tools to ensure that a membrane is installed properly, a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) compartmented system might be more appealing. Usually coming with the desired quality control tools, it has an edge over most types of fully bonded and unbonded systems.

The quality control tools that a PVC compartmented system typically comes with include a double-wedge welding of membrane overlaps. And that’s followed by pressure testing to guarantee that the overlap is properly welded.

Other quality testing measures for the overlaps in this case might include vacuum testing and spark testing.

All the above are great tools in theory. However, this quality control edge tends to be more theoretical than realistic in many instances. Such instances include (but are not limited to) vertical membrane applications. After all, it would be very unpractical to make a double-wedge welding joint and test each individual joint in vertical (or otherwise complicated) applications.

Overall Cost

Cost per system is not universal and differs in each market. But in general, an unbonded system is the cheapest, while fully bonded and compartmented systems tend to be more expensive.

However, when we consider what I call the membrane system lifetime value, cost assessment tends to be more complicated. The lifetime cost would include the initial cost of the system, the expected life of the system, and repair costs of the membrane over the service life of the structure. Once again, concreting practices play an important role with the associated costs of repair and replacement. Choosing a waterproofing system based on cost is therefore a complex decision that includes many variables, which are hard to quantify.

A group of construction workers at a worksite are helping to pour concrete for a project.

Why Concreting Adds Complexity to These Factors 

Waterproofing is an interconnected network of activities. So rationally selecting the appropriate system depends on many variables. A common variable that adds to the complexity of the selection and on the consequences associated with that selection is the quality of the concrete. That in turn is a function of the structure’s concrete mix and application. Therefore, it is impossible to assess the performance of the waterproofing membrane system in isolation without considering the concrete’s quality.

A construction worker is pouring KIM into concrete at the time of batching.

How to Simplify and Improve a Waterproofing Strategy with a Fourth Alternative

The fourth alternative is not a compromise between an unbonded, fully bonded, or compartmented system. A fourth alternative is a better waterproofing strategy. It’s a waterproofing solution that simplifies a designer’s choice while providing more predictable outcomes.

Simply put, the fourth alternative is to design and construct a waterproof structure that can sustain itself without external protection. That eliminates the concern of that external protection defecting or failing, as it transforms the concrete itself into a solid waterproof barrier. It also minimizes the need for extra labor or application time, as there is no membrane to install.

But how is this waterproofing strategy possible? What makes it work?

It all functions off the following principles.

The Structure Should Be Waterproof for Its Entire Intended Service Life

This is attained by using quality concrete, proper jointing systems, and adequate reinforcement.

The latter follows conventional construction methods, so let’s focus on those first two aspects.

To obtain quality concrete in this case, builders need to ensure that they use a suitable mix that is permanently waterproof. An easy way to do this is by applying a reactive waterproofing admixture, such as Kryton’s Krystol Internal Membrane
(KIM), with the established best practices for mixing, placing, and curing concrete.

Once added directly into the concrete, KIM disperses Krystol technology throughout the concrete mix, which remains dormant until water is nearby. When in the presence of water, the chemical technology reacts, forming interlocking crystals to block pathways for water in the concrete. That reduces the concrete’s permeability, shrinkage, and cracking. It also improves the concrete’s ability to self-seal for the rest of the structure’s life span.

But what about proper jointing systems?

Special consideration should be given to jointing details, including construction, expansion, and control joints. Using a combination of physical and chemical barriers is recommended for long-term performance. A good example of this is the Krystol Waterstop System. It offers three levels of protection for all jointing details. Depending on the level of protection chosen, the system might make use of two types of waterstops (one for sealing joints and one for crack control), a crystalline slurry that uses Krystol technology for concrete joints, and a crystalline grout.

For Extra Reliability, Designers Need to Determine a Suitable Repair Strategy

With a reliable waterproofing admixture and jointing protection system, a concrete structure should be quite safe.

But it’s important to include redundancies into a waterproofing system. It’s what gives a structure extra protection in case the situation does not go as planned. But to include those redundancies, designers need to consider a suitable repair strategy.

The repair strategy should be based on durable materials that are compatible with concrete. It should not be cosmetic and planned for the short term as it has to be able to fix the problem at its source. Otherwise, the problem will remain present, causing more damage in the long run.

dditional Protection Needs to Be Considered When Handling Projects That Are Considered High-Risk

These can include liveable basements, museums, and other structures where the cost of repairs is very high.

If that is the case for a project, a designer could add a membrane system to the waterproof structure. Selecting one will depend on the previously mentioned factors. But in general, as discussed earlier, the quality of concreting practices will affect how well a membrane type will perform. So it’s important to maintain good concreting practices no matter which type of waterproofing membrane system is chosen.

In short, the fourth alternative is a waterproofing strategy that fundamentally relies on a self-sustained waterproof structure free of application and additional labor concerns, a suitable repair strategy, and when necessary, the extra protection of a waterproofing membrane system.

Free e-book! Download it today to learn about the four aspects to consider when specifying crystalline waterproofing admixtures.

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Reducing the Risk of Hot Weather Concreting with Maturix® Sensors

Reducing the Risk of Hot Weather Concreting with Maturix® Sensors

As summer approaches us here at Kryton in Canada, we know that many of you will be planning your hot weather concreting. While the weather can be a joy to experience for yourself, it can also make concreting more challenging.

For one, high temperatures will accelerate the early-age strength gain of your concrete. This sounds like a great way to naturally expedite your schedule. But it’s hard to take advantage of that when you aren’t sure of how fast your concrete is developing.

Moreover, once high temperatures get excessively high, your concrete can develop a number of durability concerns. For instance, it can end up with delayed ettringite formation (DEF). And DEF can be quite a destructive force in moist environments as it can cause your concrete to prematurely deteriorate.

Outside of DEF, your concrete can also experience drying shrinkage. This happens when the concrete has suffered moisture loss after hardening. It increases the concrete’s tensile stress, raising the likelihood that the concrete will crack or warp.

All of which is terrible for constructing a solid, reliable structure. However, you can reduce the risk of this happening during hot weather concreting with our Maturix Smart Concrete Sensors.

A Maturix Sensor is attached to fencing ready to support hot weather concreting.

So, How Do Maturix Sensors Help?

They give you an easy way to stay on top of your concrete’s thermal control plan. Once connected to type K thermocouple wires, which are positioned and attached to reinforcing rebar, the Maturix Sensors wirelessly transmit temperature data to a cloud-based platform every 10 minutes. Then, the platform takes that data and calculates the maturity based on the readings and a specific concrete calibration curve. In return, you get a result that accurately determines your concrete’s current strength. All of which allows you to tell exactly what temperature and strength your concrete has every day. And because this information is transmitted wirelessly, you can access it through any connected device, keeping you up-to-date on the situation, no matter where you are. Additionally, you can easily set up alarms to receive notifications via SMS or email when a certain temperature, strength, or maturity has been reached.

That in turn allows you to stick to the recommended temperatures for hot weather concreting and operate proactively as specified in ACI 305R: Guide to Hot Weather Concreting.

Of course, that’s just the start. There are a couple other advantages that come with Maturix. Let’s take a look at them.

They Enable You to Leverage Early Concrete Strength in Hot Temperatures

To start, with the insight they provide on strength development, you’ll notice right away when your concrete starts reacting to hotter temperatures. After all, you’ll see exactly when the concrete’s strength accelerates. So you’ll be able to plan your schedule to work with this expedited strength development. In turn, you’ll find yourself stripping forms at a faster rate, letting you keep up with any tight deadlines you have.

nd Their Real-Time Alert System Makes It Easy to Avoid Potential Temperature Concerns

You can set up this alert system to notify you and your team when the concrete meets, exceeds, or goes below critical thresholds. So long as you have a connected device, you’ll immediately know when your concrete is doing well and when it needs adjustments. That way, if your concrete ever exceeds recommended temperatures, you and your team can take the required actions to cool it down.

In short, Maturix empowers you to fix temperature concerns before they ever become a problem.

A confused young businessman looks at many colorful twisted arrows on the blackboard background.

Why Choose Them Over Other Available Sensors for Hot Weather Concreting?

Still, there are other sensors out there. What makes Maturix worthy of more consideration?

Well, Maturix comes with a number of unique features you aren’t likely to find elsewhere. Some of which include the following.

You Get Local Weather Data as Well as Temperature and Strength Data

To further bolster your understanding of your concrete’s development, Maturix Sensors gather data about the local weather. That way, you don’t just know how your concrete is doing. You also get a sense for what conditions your concrete faces throughout your construction project. Whether you have to deal with hot weather and rain or any other weather combination, you get the weather data integrated in your reporting.

You’ll Even Be Able to Reuse Maturix Sensors for Multiple Projects

One of the best cost-effective measures of these devices is that they don’t work like single-use sensors. These aren’t disposable devices that remain within the concrete. Instead, they are connected to disposable thermocouple wires. As a result, once you complete a project, you are free to take the sensors with you and use them for other projects for as many times as you like. This allows you to take advantage of all the features Maturix offers at a low cost. After all, you don’t need to spend a big chunk of your budget on new sensors with Maturix.

In the end, Maturix is a worthwhile investment that cuts down on your costs and makes hot weather concreting much less risky.

A Maturix Sensor is attached to metal with light shining on it.

So Why Not Give Them a Try for Your Next Hot Weather Concreting Project?

If you’re expecting to deal with such a project soon, then it might be time for you to find out how advantageous it can be to have Maturix with you. You’ll soon wonder how you could have gone so long without it! But don’t just take our word for it. Check out our Maturix page to see for yourself.

Convenient. Cost-Effective. Remote. Concrete monitoring with Maturix. Book a demo today!

The post Reducing the Risk of Hot Weather Concreting with Maturix® Sensors appeared first on Kryton.

How Combining Concrete Admixtures Simplified Aquatera’s Expansion

How Combining Concrete Admixtures Simplified Aquatera’s Expansion

Ever thought about what it takes to keep the water you drink and the water you see outdoors clean? It’s not often considered! But there are companies who work tirelessly to make it all happen. Aquatera is one such company. Since 2003, they’ve acted as the owner and operator of water and wastewater treatment and transmissions systems for the City of Grande Prairie in Alberta, Canada.

Under their direction, Grande Prairie’s citizens have been able to enjoy safe, clean drinking water and ensure that their wastewater returns fully sanitized back to the Wapiti River. It’s a direction that worked for a decade.

However, by 2013, Grande Prairie’s population had grown by more than 18,000 people. While that was great for the area’s economy, it left Aquatera’s plant running at full capacity. If the population grew any further, the plant would not be able to accommodate the increase in demand.

Determined to leave no person without their essential service, Aquatera chose to expand their plant.

Water can be seen being treated in Aquatera's wastewater treatment plant.

quatera’s Expansion Would Involve Multiple Additions to Their Plant

It would also cost a pretty penny! For over $58 million, Aquatera would be able to fully upgrade the plant to include the following:

Two new biological nutrient removal reactors (BNRs)Two new circular secondary clarifier filtersA new centrifuge building

While this upgrade would be expensive, the end result would be priceless. These additions would give Aquatera’s plant two major benefits that would keep it running throughout Grande Prairie’s ongoing growth spurt.

They Would Help the Company Meet Current and Future Regulations

As a company that handles the water and wastewater treatment for a whole city, Aquatera is beholden to a number of rules and best practices. These come in the form of provincial and federal regulations and guidelines. And they also include individual municipal utility bylaws from four shareholders.

Of course, it also means that Aquatera needs to periodically update their system to meet the latest standards. Taking that into account, Aquatera knew they’d need their upgrade to address this. That’s why they chose to add two more BNRs to their plant. Both would allow them to satisfy the needs of Grande Prairie and meet current and future regulations surrounding those needs.

nd They Would Also Increase the Company’s Overall Efficiency

More importantly, all of the additions to Aquatera’s plant would give it the ability to work more efficiently. For instance, the plant would be able to treat 12,000,000 more liters of wastewater a day than it would have before. To put that into perspective, the plant’s original capacity limited the plant to treating 22,000,000 L of wastewater a day. But with the upgrades, the plant would be able to treat up to 34,000,000 L daily.

On top of that, the upgrades would also increase the plant’s sustainability. They would give the plant a longer life span while reducing how much power it consumes and how many greenhouse gases it emits.

Combining this new capacity increase and sustainability enhancement meant that the plant would be able to work in a more eco-friendly manner while having the capacity to serve a growing population.

A civil engineer is holding up blueprints while in snowy weather, determining how they'd want to use their concrete admixtures.

But These Upgrades Came with a Couple of Challenges

While Aquatera was eager to start upgrading, they had to make sure their construction team would be able to complete the project on time while working in Alberta’s harsh wintery conditions.

With that in mind, it was clear to them that working with concrete in such a climate meant they’d need a time-effective solution that could give them both permanently waterproof and highly durable concrete. And this solution would need to be able to handle significantly cold temperatures over the winter season. In short, it would have to be an innovative solution.

They Couldn’t Go with a Conventional Surface-Applied Solution

Traditional solutions like surface-applied concrete waterproofing and hardening products are costly and time-consuming. After all, crews need to be scheduled to handle the application. And that can involve the need to spend more to hire extra workers and expensive equipment. Even if all those costs could be managed, it still means waiting for the workers to finish their manual application.

At the same time, that process adds the risk of application errors. No matter how well trained a manual applicator is, they’re only human. So there’s always a chance that the application will not uniformly cover the concrete. And that could leave weak spots in the finished concrete structure.

If Aquatera wanted their concrete waterproofing and durability solution to be both timely and cost-effective, they would need to look elsewhere.

They’d Also Need to Be Careful of the Weather

No matter what they chose as their solution, the construction team would still have to make sure that it could handle the wintery weather. With surface-applied solutions, that could prove to be difficult. It would double the amount of heating they’d have to worry about after all. Both the solutions themselves and the surrounding ground would need to remain unfrozen. Otherwise, the cold weather would interfere with the process, making the concrete set more slowly. That in turn would make the surface application take even more time. There would even be the possibility of the concrete slab crusting, where only its top part sets.

So, if Aquatera’s upgrade was ever going to happen, the company’s construction team would need a non-surface-applied solution that could handle the cold weather just fine.

Kryton's KIM and Hard-Cem admixtures ready to optimize building space.

To Manage These Obstacles, Aquatera Chose Smart Concrete Solutions

The main challenge for Aquatera was eliminating the difficulties that come with surface-applied products. Luckily, they soon came across Kryton’s Edmonton distributor, Cascade Aqua-Tech Ltd. From there, they were able to secure their very own supply of our integral concrete waterproofing admixture, Krystol Internal Membrane
(KIM), and our integral concrete hardening admixture, Hard-Cem

Using the Concrete Admixtures KIM and Hard-Cem, They Were Able to Ease Their Construction Timeline

Because both KIM and Hard-Cem are integral admixtures, they can be added directly into a concrete mix. That eliminates the need to hire extra labor to apply waterproofing and hardening solutions. There’s also little concern for application errors. Instead, each admixture will permeate throughout the concrete, giving it an even, thorough dose of waterproofing and hardening.

The construction team benefited from this approach, adding the products to the concrete mix to meet the specific needs of the wastewater treatment plan.

For KIM, they started by adding it separately to the following:

Some slabs and retaining walls for the gallery and tunnel raftExposed structural concrete that was covering the first two structuresA raft slab and some compartment walls for the BNRs and circular secondary clarifier filters

That allowed KIM to protect each area from potential chemical attacks as the Krystol technology within the admixture could form interlocking crystals that block out water and waterborne particles and fill up any spaces that either might pass through.

For Hard-Cem, they added it separately to the centrifuge building’s slab-on-grade. That would double the building’s resistance to abrasive and erosive wear so that it could withstand the exposure to chlorides and severe amounts of sulfate from the wastewater treatment process.

And for extra protection for the plant’s steel deck, the construction team added both KIM and Hard-Cem to the concrete mix, giving the deck’s surrounding concrete protection against moisture ingress, chemical attack, and abrasive and erosive wear.

Even When Weather Conditions Worsened, Their Construction Still Went By Relatively Smoothly

Because of how easy it was to apply these concrete admixtures, the construction team was able to diligently and effectively continue their work throughout two snowy winters — even when one winter came with a snowfall that was over 10 ft!

Such weather would have made it harder to work with surface-applied concrete waterproofing and hardening solutions as the solutions themselves would have needed protection from the cold.

But with the instant application of concrete admixtures KIM and Hard-Cem, where they can be directly added to the concrete mix during batching, it made it easy for the construction team to both waterproof and harden their concrete. There was no concern over protecting the admixtures after all. The admixtures would simply go into the mix and provide their benefits while the team could carry on with heating the ground and properly placing and curing their concrete.

Aquatera's worksite rests in the background of the shot, showing a more complete project.

Overall, KIM and Hard-Cem Transformed Aquatera’s Expansion into a Success 

In the end, thanks to the concrete admixtures, KIM and Hard-Cem, Aquatera’s construction team was able to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant within their timeline. It was a successful bit of construction that was only further proven to be so when the upgrades passed every hydrostatic test the team put them through.

Both KIM and Hard-Cem have gone on to contribute to many other success stories like this one. If you want to see more of their work, take a look at our library of case studies.

Download our e-book today to find out why the industry is moving away from surface-applied concrete hardeners.

The post How Combining Concrete Admixtures Simplified Aquatera’s Expansion appeared first on Kryton.

Concrete Monitoring with Maturix®: Frequently Asked Questions

This past year, contractors and precast companies throughout North America got a chance to increase their productivity when it came to concrete monitoring. With the 2020 North American launch of Maturix Smart Concrete Sensors, they could now monitor concrete with fully wireless sensors that can be accessed remotely. All of which made monitoring concrete quicker and much more cost-effective.

The sensors caught a lot of industry interest because of this. Of course, that interest didn’t just come from the North American launch. The sensors were initially launched in Denmark and generated a lot of interest before coming to this continent. Since then, 555 Maturix suitcases have been distributed. With their help, builders were able to create 4,248 precast reports and 6,443 in-situ reports. That went on to improve 861 projects in just one year. (To see just how successful these projects have been, take a look at this interview with one of our clients.)

We’re excited to bring MaturixSensors to the North American market and have been fielding a lot of calls from clients interested in the technology. If you happen to be interested yourself and want to know more, we have created an easy-to-read online guide here for you on the most frequently asked questions about Maturix.

First Off, What Is Maturix?

We’ve shared that Maturix is a type of sensor that wirelessly monitors concrete as it develops. But there’s much more to it than that!

To start, the setup is simple. All the Maturix Sensor needs is a connection with a type K thermocouple wire, which is attached to the rebar within concrete. Once connected, the sensor will immediately start monitoring the concrete’s developing temperature and strength. The data it gains from this monitoring is then transferred wirelessly to a cloud-based platform. That platform will go on to send the data to any connected device a user chooses.

In short, Maturix makes fully remote monitoring possible and offers users a way to determine what exact temperature and strength their concrete has at any time. So contractors don’t have to send someone out to physically retrieve the data. And precast companies can remove the guesswork involved in determining when they should remove formwork. That allows them to save time, cut costs, reduce risks, maintain quality control, improve workflow, and more.

How Does It Work?

So, now, we know what it is and what it does.

But how exactly does Maturix work? How is it able to provide such accurate measurements on concrete temperature and strength?

Well, once it’s plugged into a thermocouple wire that’s embedded into a concrete slab, the Maturix Sensor is able to take the actual core temperature of that slab. Then, it can use that information to calculate the compressive strength of the concrete. To do that, it uses a calibrated maturity curve that’s based on ASTM C1074 — Standard Practice for Estimating Concrete Strength by the Maturity Method.

Many in the industry view this method to be one of the more highly accurate and reliable ones out there as the sensor’s thermocouple wire is embedded into the concrete. That gives the sensor a look at the concrete’s actual conditions. In return, construction workers can get a true reading on the status of their concrete on-site. So they can make better building decisions to reduce project risks.

What Makes It Different from Other Concrete Monitoring Devices Out There?

There are a number of differences that set Maturix apart from other sensors. But the most evident is its reusability. Unlike with most other wireless sensors, you can take the Maturix Sensors you used in a previous project and continue using them in future projects. Even if your future project needs to be done in multiple phases, you can still reuse your sensors after each phase, making Maturix highly efficient.

That’s mainly thanks to how these sensors are designed. The sensors themselves remain outside of the concrete in tough, durable cases. That way, they can stay safe while monitoring concrete at the worksite. At the same time, they’re still able to accurately monitor because they’re connected to thermocouple wires that are embedded in the concrete.

Because of that, the type K thermocouple wires themselves become unusable after one project. However, they are pretty easy to find around the world and can be bought for a reasonable price.

In short, you get to save a lot of money on buying sensors for each project while spending just a little bit to replace their thermocouple wires.

If you were to use other sensors, however, you’d likely have to worry about buying a whole new set of them for each project. There are also other disadvantages to consider too. For instance, sensors that use Bluetooth technology often expire after a single use. They also cannot transmit data from too far a distance, meaning users will still need to go to the worksite to access the data.

Temperature data loggers are not much better. They can be reusable. But their data needs to be manually collected and then manually exported and analyzed. There’s no system to do all that work for you. So it falls on your team to spend more time on that.

What about Data Collection? How Does That Work Differently?

When you use Maturix, you’ll find that once activated, it will transmit concrete monitoring data every 10 minutes. During this process, the data will go from the sensor to a cloud-based platform.

How Can I Access the Data through the Maturix Software?

Once your data is stored in the cloud-based platform, you can access it at any time through a browser on any connected device. You can go with any browser, but we recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

After your user account is set up then, you’ll be able to easily log in to the platform through your preferred browser and access your data. Once there, you’ll be all set to view all the concrete monitoring data you like!

Is There a Limit to the Number of Users Who Can Do the Same?

Not at all! You can invite as many users as you’d like to join your concrete monitoring. That way, you and your team can all see how your concrete develops as it happens in real time.

Is There a Way to Alert Myself and Others to Key Concrete Monitoring Moments?

Yes! Maturix offers an alert system so that the right people are alerted to critical monitoring activities at all times. That ensures everyone gets the right data at the right time, expediting approvals in the process. It also allows you and your team to better prepare for any sudden changes to your concrete’s condition.

Some of the critical activities you can notify yourself and others about include the following:

Concrete temperature going above or below a certain valueTemperature difference, concrete strength, or concrete maturity going above a certain valueA Maturix Sensor not receiving data or being disconnected after a certain time

There’s no limit to how many of these notifications you can create either. So you can add as many or as few as you need to best serve your project.

Is All This Under Warranty?

Yes, these sensors are warrantied for life! All you need to do is maintain your monitoring service subscription, and we’ll continue to provide the best service possible for them.

What If I Have More Questions about Maturix?

This article should give you all the basic information you need to know in order to work with Maturix. But if you still have questions, don’t worry! There are plenty of resources at your disposal. For instance, we have a section on our website that deals with these and other frequently asked questions. You can also contact a representative of ours for a more hands-on approach to learning how to use Maturix.

In short, with Maturix, you not only get the benefits of concrete monitoring data wherever you are, you also get extensive technical support from Kryton.


The post Concrete Monitoring with Maturix®: Frequently Asked Questions appeared first on Kryton.

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Doing Business Virtually: It’s Time to Up Your Game

Doing Business Virtually: It’s Time to Up Your Game

It’s the beginning of a new year full of possibilities for business leaders. We still face many of the same challenges as last year, but with the rollout of vaccines worldwide, we should start to experience more stability in the market.

However, there’s still a ways to go, so how do we continue to adapt and maximize the opportunities in the year ahead?

We heard a lot about how to pivot our business in 2020. Now, we need to consider what that means to us in 2021. To do that, we should look at what’s affected everyone the most and how we can use it to up our game.

A hand is holding a black tablet that shows results from Maturix Sensors monitoring concrete.

Consider the Rising Adoption of Business Technology

Recent reports have shown that the adoption of technology has increased significantly over previous years, with the use of video conferencing technology on its own rising by 35%.

It was no different for us here at Kryton as virtual meetings became a mainstay for our communication. Despite this change in workflow, our team did a great job in responding to our immediate need to conduct business virtually. We held meetings on Zoom, participated in virtual trade shows, hosted online webinars, and increased our presence on the web through social media posts and digital marketing.

While we personally have managed to step up our game in the digital landscape, I know we have only tapped into a small percentage of what’s available to us in virtual communications. And it’s not about adding more systems to the mix. It’s about fully utilizing the systems we now have in place, ensuring our skills keep up with the technology we have.

Every business leader should consider this because according to the World Economic Forum, the gap between technology and skills is getting so broad that we are in a global crisis. Part of it stems from a common conundrum in business where professionals invest in new systems but struggle with adoption.

If you look at this in the context of my favorite sport, golf, it’s like buying a set of clubs and then hitting the links with no training. You’ll manage to get some decent shots once in a while, but your score will be mediocre at best. To take your game to the next level, you need training and practice.

Several people can be seen on a laptop screen, participating in an online meeting, while a green mug of coffee sits to the left of the laptop.

That May Mean Working with Video Conferencing Technology More Often

With the global workforce moving to a work-from-home model and more meetings being held online, remote tools, like video conferencing, have become an essential component of the modern business world. That hasn’t always been easy for most of us, I imagine. But through trial and error, our team at Kryton has learned some of the best practices that all of us can apply when using video conferencing technology.

To Start, You’ll Want to Mitigate Potential Technical Difficulties

You don’t want to have to delay a meeting with an important client just because your video conferencing system isn’t working properly. Solving technical difficulties can take up valuable time, so it’s best if you make sure the technology can run smoothly before you head to the meeting. That includes checking your Internet connection, software, camera, microphone, and other technical devices for any issues. You’ll also want to log in early, if possible, so you have the time to troubleshoot. It’s especially critical to do that if you’re the host as that ensures your meeting will start on time.

Stay on Mute When You’re Not Talking

Most microphones can pick up minor background noises like typing and coughing. These sounds can easily distract other video conferencing participants and potentially even cause annoyance. So make sure you mute yourself when you’re not taking part in the conversation.

nd Ensure You Treat These Meetings as If You Were There in Person

While it’s easy to get distracted with checking your inbox and browsing online during a video conference, you probably shouldn’t. Treat it as though you are attending a meeting in person. Also, look into the camera instead of the computer monitor when you speak so you appear to be looking directly at the person.

There are many more tips to consider for video conferencing, but the key takeaway is to treat it like it’s a meeting in person. For instance, being on time, dressing properly, and paying attention are all expected for in-person meetings, and it’s no different for remote ones. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you would do the same thing if you were in a physical meeting.

Positive statistics are shown on the screen of a laptop that is sitting on a shiny desk in an office.

Don’t Let Technical Difficulties Hold You Back

It’s typical for users to only learn as much as it takes to achieve the meeting, but not go on to become proficient with the tool. This can be a big mistake and missed opportunity. I’m encouraging my team to go pro and master the skills needed to fully benefit from these communication tools. And I encourage all business leaders to do the same. Don’t let your technology hold you back or limit you in any way. As a business owner, consider the time and training needed for your employees to learn new systems. Training sessions, peer groups, manuals, and briefing documents can all support the adoption of new technology. As a user, commit to taking the time to practice and learn. This will benefit you now and in the long run as virtual communication becomes a permanent part of the business landscape.

The post Doing Business Virtually: It’s Time to Up Your Game appeared first on Kryton.

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Sustainable Architecture and Concrete: Why They Can Work Well Together

Sustainable Architecture and Concrete: Why They Can Work Well Together

Sustainable architecture and concrete are not always considered compatible. After all, the production of concrete is known as the cause for at least 8% of the world’s carbon emissions. It’s why many concrete producers nowadays are creating their own low-carbon concrete mixes. And it’s also why some architects are hesitant about their use of concrete.

That is especially the case now as the effects of climate change advance. With this progression, people are seeing an increase in severe storms and heat waves. They’re also seeing a significant rise in temperature in the Arctic. It’s warming up two-and-a-half times faster than any other region on the planet. To better visualize this, consider that the New York Times has noted the average air temperatures in 2019 for the world were around 3.5°F (1.9°C) higher than the average temperatures found from 1981–2010. Because of this, the Arctic’s ice is melting away, leaving behind more ocean to absorb sunlight and radiate more heat. All of which heats up the rest of the planet that much more.

In response to this, many architects have felt a stronger need to incorporate sustainability into their work. For instance, a number of architects have chosen to solely work with clients who are aiming to build to net-zero energy standards. Though, not all such sustainability efforts have been this recent in the world of architects. The American Institute of Architects itself has had a commitment to sustainability for as long as 1971. And architects have only been increasing their focus on this commitment to sustainable architecture ever since.

With their concerns over the state of the climate, architects have become a little wary about using concrete. However, concrete remains an incredibly common building material. And there’s good reason for that. Whatever you think of it personally, concrete has much to offer sustainable architecture!

An ICF wall lays almost complete at a worksite to help create sustainable architecture.

For One, Concrete Can Create One of the Most Energy-Efficient Walls Available

Known as insulated concrete form (ICF) walls, these structures are considered to be one of the most energy-efficient forms available. In fact, according to Concrete Construction, back in 2009, ICF walls were what gave Beverly Stevenart, the co-owner of Craftsman Homes & Design, in Colorado from the United States of America (USA), a way to construct a net-zero energy home. They’re also a form that the New York City-based Curtis + Ginsberg Architects have frequently used over the years to great effect in a number of projects. These include the Calvert Lancaster building on Lexington Avenue, which earned a silver certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. They’ve also achieved multiple other LEED and passive house certifications with their ICF construction.

ICFs have not just been benefitting sustainable architecture in the USA, though. While places outside North America focus a little less on ICF construction, it still plays a big part in Europe and is gaining traction in regions like Asia, South America, and the Middle East.

But how does it work?

Well, let’s look at how ICFs are made first. At the start, they’re molded from either expanded or extruded polystyrene. This mold then typically takes on the form of lightweight open-cell concrete blocks or panels. These then act as the forms for poured concrete (which can be for above or below grade walls). The end result is a number of walls that combine the benefits of concrete and integral insulation. From concrete, the walls gain a decent amount of thermal mass and strength. And from the integral insulation, the walls receive a number of energy-saving benefits. All of which makes them highly energy efficient and even more thermally efficient than traditional wood-framed assemblies.

These Happen to Manage Temperature Well and in Different Climates

That is great news for architects looking to cut down on energy loss for their sustainable architecture. With the thermal efficiency of ICF exterior walls, they can create a design that uses less energy to cool down and warm up compared to wood-framed houses. Based on estimates from the home performance magazine Home Energy, that equates to ICF exterior walls cooling down with around 32% less energy and warming up with 44% less energy than a wood-framed house would. The estimated savings for this amounted to an average of $200 a year.

Of course, the average energy saved in all this does depend a bit on the surrounding climate. For colder areas in North America, the buildings might save more on heating than cooling. The reverse can be said for warmer areas.

Still, no matter the climate, the ICF walls will still provide energy savings. To confirm this and compare the performance to code-matching and wood-framed homes, the Portland Cement Association (PCA) conducted a study. For this study, they looked at the performance of homes in several cities across the USA. These were Chicago, Miami, Phoenix, Seattle, and Washington D.C. After observing each location, the PCA noted that the homes with ICF walls saved significantly on energy. Compared to code-matching homes, the ICF-constructed ones used 8% to 19% less energy. And compared to wood-framed homes, they used 5% to 9% less energy. On top of that, they even exceeded the requirements from the International Energy Conservation Code.

What’s more, ICF walls can also absorb the temperature swings of any climate. This is mainly thanks to their concrete thermal mass, which allows them to absorb heat. In turn, this heat can help them regulate the internal temperature of a building. So, for instance, if the building is in a desert, its ICF walls will absorb the day’s heat. Then, by the time it becomes freezing at night, the heat from the concrete will still keep the interior’s temperature relatively warm and stable.

nd They Provide a Tight Design That Allows for More Cost-Effective HVAC Systems

ICF walls aren’t just great for dealing with energy loss and temperatures. They also provide a tighter fitting design, which works well for energy efficiency in other areas. One area in particular is structural leaks. With the tight design of ICF walls, there’s less room for air leakages and outside air infiltration. Confirming this fact, one PCA study noted that ICF walls had an air leakage rate of 0.15 air changes per hour, while wood-framed homes had 0.78 air changes per hour.

To add to that, the design of ICF walls allow for smaller and more affordable HVAC systems. Because ICF construction doesn’t need as much HVAC energy, construction teams can choose a more compact and affordable setup. That also allows them to save around $500–$2,000 per home while still supporting sustainable architecture.

Two engineers with hard hats and safety vests on are looking at a blueprint that's spread out on a table.

Those Aren’t the Only Benefits They Provide Either

They also come with the following advantages for sustainable architecture over other walls like wood-framed ones:

Better fire resistance — According to research done by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, ICF walls offer some of the best fire resistance available. For instance, they can endure fires at extreme levels for up to four hours, while wood-framed walls generally do not last more than a one-hour fire rating. This is because concrete is not an organic material that would fuel a fire. So unlike wood, which can contribute to fire growth, concrete can avoid exacerbating it while resisting damage at the same time.


Increased durability — Known to be a long-lasting material, concrete has gotten this reputation due to its ability to resist wear and tear, severe weather, rot, insects, and fire. And the ICF walls that concrete can create can do the same while also resisting moisture. Likewise, wood-framed walls can have a similar form of resistance from environmental factors when placed in the interior of a building. However, as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development notes, they are still vulnerable to rotting if water manages to get into the building. They’re also vulnerable to termite attacks, which can cause a fair bit of structural damage.


Stronger noise control — The publication Construction Canada suggests that ICF walls may even provide up to 40% lower sound transmission compared to wood-framed walls. Backing up that idea, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s study states that a typical wood wall may have a sound transmission class (STC) rating of 35 to 49, while ICF walls will have a rating of 48 to 58. So the sound of shouting could likely be heard through the wood-framed walls, but less so for ICF walls. Of course, there is also the option of using enhanced wood walls as well, which doesn’t quite reach the STC ratings of ICF walls. But it gets pretty close, hitting the 50 to 54 STC rating. Still, for the best noise control, ICF walls offer the better bet.


Fewer potential insurance concerns — Depending on the region, building owners may also deal with fewer insurance concerns if their structure uses concrete materials. In Vancouver, Canada, for example, GLOBE Advisors underwent research to compare the insurance costs between mid-rise wood-framed buildings and concrete residential buildings. The end results of that research showed that while there is a risk of water damage to concrete buildings, generally that damage is easier to find and resolve compared to the damage found in mid-rise wood-framed buildings. With wood construction, moisture concerns are harder to detect so they can fester for years, and if they’re not found in time, they can render a building uninhabitable. Additionally, wood-framed buildings come with a higher risk of fire and mold compared to concrete buildings. All of which can lead to higher insurance rates as insurance companies want to deal with as little risk as possible.

Several construction workers in hard hats and safety vests are pouring concrete at a worksite to create sustainable architecture.

Of Course, Concrete on Its Own Has a Number of Sustainable Traits

Concrete isn’t just a way for architects to build energy-efficient ICF walls with benefits. It’s also a material that comes with its own sustainable traits.

For One, It’s Quite Versatile, Allowing It to Fulfill a Variety of Design Needs

With this versatile nature, concrete makes a project design that much easier to complete. It allows builders to choose what type of consistency it’ll have, how it’ll flow, what setting times it’ll have, and which hardened properties it’ll use.

They can even affect each of these aspects while adding beneficial qualities through the use of admixtures.  So if they want to avoid petroleum-based waterproofing membranes, they can directly add an admixture like the Krystol Internal Membrane
(KIM to a concrete mix. That allows them to make the concrete inherently and permanently waterproof without the need for toxic elements or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). KIM will also protect the reinforcement from corrosion, which can extend the structure’s life cycle and reduce future maintenance expenses.

The same goes for when they want to enhance the concrete’s durability against abrasion. They can replace dry shake hardeners and sealers, which can expose workers to silica dust and VOCs, with the durability admixture Hard-Cem. Adding it directly to a concrete mix gives the concrete a high resistance to both abrasion and erosion, doubling its life span.

All of which makes it possible to use concrete in a wide variety of applications while ensuring the structures they form remain functional now and in the future. After all, concrete represents an investment, and it is critical to ensure that investment will last. Admixtures make this possible while adding more benefits and reducing the amount of carbon pollutants that are emitted throughout the building’s life cycle.

On Top of That, Concrete Is Reusable

Even if a concrete project is eventually set for demolition, it is still possible to reuse it! That remains the case even if the concrete has rebar within it. That’s because workers can separate the rebar from the concrete with large magnets to be reused for future projects. And they can then crush the concrete into fragments of varying sizes. These fragments can then help create the following:

Pavement for walkways and drivewaysBed foundation material for trenchesLandscaping mulchFill for wire cagesOceanic reef habitats

Most significantly, though, they can act as replacement for aggregate in concrete mixes. That helps builders reduce the amount of gravel and sand extraction needed. And that in turn is better for sustainability as it lowers the amount of resource extraction that occurs in construction.

Of course, it’s important to note that this sort of reusability only works for concrete with no contaminating substances. After all, concrete with calcium sulfate, chlorides, oils, or surface-applied membranes can render the concrete unsuitable for reuse, meaning it ends up in a landfill.

But concrete without those concerns, from start to finish, can be a great ally to sustainable architecture. While it can also be a carbon-intensive material, the construction industry has been hard at work producing better alternatives. From that mindset, we’ve come up with energy-efficient ICF walls, admixtures that reduce carbon emissions, and ways to reuse concrete. So for worried architects, using concrete does not have to be a cause for concern. In fact, it could aid you in your design for a greener, more sustainable building.

Take the LEED, and acquire LEED points for your green building.

The post Sustainable Architecture and Concrete: Why They Can Work Well Together appeared first on Kryton.