Although lightweight concrete has been around for many years, their usability and efficiency is being realized just now. As the name suggests, the main difference between ordinary concrete and lightweight concrete is in the weight. While the ordinary concrete is heavy and bulky, its lightweight counterpart is much lighter and easy to handle. Apart from this difference, there are many advantages of the lightweight concrete, which makes it a wiser choice when looking for construction materials.
Types of Lightweight Concrete
The lightweight concrete is generally divided into three categories, namely the Autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC), lightweight aggregate concrete and foamed concrete. All of these concretes are used for construction. The difference lies in the material used and the manufacturing process. Here is a detailed description:
Autoclaved Aerated Concrete
Also called porous concrete and cellular concrete, the AAC is one of the most popular material to be used in today’s high rising buildings. Since it can be easily cut to size, molded and fitted easily as per the requirement, it finds its uses in most of the modern buildings. Apart from this, the AAC is a very good insulator and fire resistor due to its porous structure. For this reason, it is used in buildings with extreme temperature differences. Autoclaved Aerated Concrete is also used widely used in cold climates, since it reduces the cost as no other materials are required for insulation.
Lightweight Aggregate Concrete
The Lightweight aggregate Concrete is made by a number of processes. Firstly, it can be prepared through natural materials like the volcanic pumice, which is naturally lightweight. The other way to prepare this lightweight concrete is through treatment of materials like shale, clay or slate, etc. Also, the lightweight aggregate concrete can be made from the industrial by products like slag.
The lightweight aggregate concrete is also proving to be highly useful in areas where quick installation is required. It can also be transported with ease and installed quickly. Moreover, the feasibility to cut and fit it as required, gives it an extra advantage over the normal concrete.
The other major advantages that Lightiweight Aggregate Concrete enjoys along with other lightweight concrete is that it is a very good thermal insulator. The temperature differences do not affect it, as happens with the normal concrete. Also, it is a great fire insulator which adds to the safety of the building.
A foamed concrete is made by mixing mortar or cement slurry with foaming material. The result is a light weight and porous concrete. The ratio of the foam and the slurry can be changed depending on the usage of the concrete. Foamed concrete is widely used for filling up voids in sewer systems, pipelines, basements of old houses, subways, tunnels, etc. Its insulating properties have led it to be used in insulating roofs as well as basements in houses. The fire proofing property makes it an ideal choice for using in firewalls.
Advantages of Using Lightweight Concrete
Lightweight concrete is finding admirers all over the world and for good reasons. Here are some of the advantages of using lightweight concrete.
- Lesser Dead Load: The light weight results in lesser dead load, reducing extra support needed for construction. This is a great advantage when making high rise buildings.
- The resistance against earthquake: The lower density of lightweight concrete helps it absorb shock waves, making it more resistant to earthquake.
- Insulator and fire resistor: The porous property gives lightweight concrete ability to trap heat inside, thus making it a great insulator. The same property lends it a fire resistance property.
- Easy to handle: Being lighter and easy to cut, this concrete makes the work efficient and highly accurate.
The lightweight concrete has given way to a construction which is easy, economical and accurate and people all over the world are using it to their advantage.