Strong construction happens only with the right ingredients – I

The journey of building a home is exasperating. The unorganized construction industry has no fixed regulations except for few guidelines of building bye-laws to manage the work. However, there are few guidelines provided by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) regarding the quality of the materials used and the rules to be followed in the construction practice.

This series of articles is a small effort to educate you in knowing the components that go into the construction work.

Cement

Cement is one of the basic construction materials manufactured in controlled conditions. There are two types of cement for which Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has drawn up specifications that can be used in normal construction work.

There is a perception that blended cement is not good for construction. On the contrary, blended cement is much better for plastering and masonry work. The blended one is made by mixing industrial bye-products. The mortar and concrete made of these cements have better durability and chemical resistance. In fact many underground structures are built with slag cement or the concrete is mixed with GGBS.

Important tips

  • Cement color comes from the raw materials used in the manufacture. It is not an indicator of strength or any other of its quality parameters.
  • Technically cement is something like glue or gum when it is mixed with water (cement-water reaction produces a gel called CSH gel). Addition of more water to cement would dilute the CSH gel and make it weak.
  • Cement requires a specific amount of water to complete the chemical reaction; any excess water will not participate in the chemical reaction but remains in the mass as water.
  • Use of less cement in any work will produce less gel, hence less binding, and addition of more cement may not help much.
  • Use of blended cement will give you better results as the blending materials are slow in reacting, hence they would be releasing the CSH gel slowly over a period of time. It has been observed that if this period is as long as 90 days or even a year, it would strengthen the concrete or mortar better. It is also called secondary strengthening.
  • The chemical reaction of cement is irreversible; hence it is advised to take proper guidance from your engineers or from the technical help given by the cement manufacturer.

Read our next blog post to know about concrete and its specifications.

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