Cool as concrete – things you might not know about this important material

Published 14 Nov 2016

2 mins read

Updated 29th November 2023

It’s easy to overlook the simplest marvels in our world. Like that unassuming substance we take for granted – concrete. Take a pause from all your thoughts on concrete waterproofing or rehabilitating that crack line, and ponder instead on some wondrous facts about one of the building blocks of the modern world.

Cool as concrete - things you might not know about this important material


British origins

It seems we have the Brits to thank for this great invention. We begin by harking back to the middle of the 18th century, where British engineer – John Smeaton – is credited with formulating the first modern concrete. Known as hydraulic cement, he created this mixture by combining pebbles, powdered brick and cement.

A few decades later, a stronger version was patented by an English inventor – Joseph Aspdin – through a process of burning ground limestone and clay together.

A concrete sponge

Concrete is not naturally waterproof. In fact, it has an impressive capacity to absorb water, through its network of capillaries and pores. A cubic metre of concrete can morph from dry to soaking up roughly 60 litres of water in just 30 minutes.

A ubiquitous substance

Concrete is the world’s most widely used building material, with over 1.5 billion tonnes produced each year.

Watertight just isn’t waterproof

Although global standards differ, there are different grades of cement waterproofing. At the lowest level, which is considered “watertight”, water cannot flow freely through the concrete. At more stringent grades, the concrete needs to be resistant even to water vapour and also be damp-proof.

Looking into the future

Green alternatives, such as grasscrete, HempCrete, recycled plastics, mycelium – a totally natural root structure of fungi and mushrooms and ferrock, are amongst a generation of new kids on the block. But their advancement is still way off and there is no sign that concrete is anywhere approaching extinction.

An increased emphasis on sustainability has led scientists to explore how concrete can be recycled. At present, when concrete is recycled it is put to low-weight bearing uses.

For the time being, concrete remains the fundamental glue that holds our cities and civilisations together. Knowing how to mix, pour and waterproof your concrete structures remains key, to ensuring that you get the most out of one of the most durable products in the world.

Your waterproofing needs are in safe hands, when you work with Titan Waterproofing.

Our experts can help take care of your concrete waterproofing needs, so come speak to one of our consultants, by phone on 1300 761 219 or filling out the webform on our website.

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