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Concrete has a high compressive strength, meaning that substantially heavy loads can be placed upon it without it breaking or showing any signs of fatigue. Steel is strong in a different way. It has a high tensile strength, so it can resist enormous lateral forces that would pull other materials apart. Embed steel bars into concrete and you have reinforced concrete, a highly reliable construction material that combines the best elements of both materials.

The invention of reinforced concrete revolutionised the construction industry in the 19th century and allowed the first skyscrapers, such as the Flatiron building, to be erected in New York, where they still stand to this day. If skyscrapers were built using pure concrete, they would be vulnerable to tensile forces caused by earthquakes and high winds.

What is reinforced concrete used for?

Reinforced concrete is used for construction on a large scale, such as bridges, dams, piers, tall buildings and stadiums. It is most commonly used in domestic construction for the footings and foundations of smaller everyday dwellings. It’s compressive and tensile strength means it can withstand the weight of a house being built upon it, and the forces exerted by the weight of the house.

Here are the reasons for reinforced concrete’s widespread use:

1. Reinforced concrete has high fire and weather resistance

2. Reinforced concrete is versatile and can be formed into almost any shape required for construction

3. Reinforced concrete has very low maintenance costs

4. Reinforced concrete is weather treated and resistant to damp conditions; this is why it is the material of choice for dams, piers and footings

5. Reinforced concrete is more cost effective than equivalent steel structures

6. Reinforced concrete requires less skilled labour when erecting a large structure

There are few potential disadvantages when using reinforced concrete and every measure is taken to minimise them. Most only apply to building large structures, but here are the few that might be of interest:

1. When using reinforced concrete, the relatively low ratio of tensile strength to compressive strength must be thoroughly considered

2. Columns built using reinforced concrete have a larger construction footprint than their steel counterparts

3. Shrinkage of the concrete can cause cracks that are not structural problems but are aesthetically displeasing

4. Weather treatment is a necessity to avoid the concrete absorbing too much water

Reinforced concrete is clearly at an advantage compared to other materials. Its cost-effective, easy to work, versatile nature means that every quality concrete supplier has a wealth of knowledge and experience working with this composite material. When making a structure that needs to stand the test of time, you can’t go too wrong with concrete, and with reinforced concrete, you simply can’t go wrong.

EKA Concrete have been supplying readymix concrete in the Sussex, Surrey and Kent areas for over 20 years. Our expert staff deliver concrete to sites for footings and foundations for both commercial and domestic customers, with a range of options to suit your construction needs. Options such as concrete pumps allow us to deliver concrete to any site, and because we mix on-site, you only pay for the concrete you use, so it’ll be in budget. To talk to one of our friendly staff today, don’t hesitate to get in touch. With our call back form service, you can also arrange to be called by our staff at a time that is best for you.