We all know cement is a binder commonly used in the construction industry. Well known for its strength, cement is also strongly resistant to water. But did you know that there are many uses of cement in construction based on its type? Different grades also exist for each type. Depending on your requirements, you have multiple options when choosing a type of cement.
The construction market in Bangladesh is rapidly growing. Numerous government and private infrastructure projects are being constructed all over the country. The growth rate per annum is forecasted to be 8% from 2020 to 2025. Therefore, having a good knowledge of cement is essential for anyone in this industry.
In this article, we will talk about the characteristics and uses of major cement variants. Then, we will also discuss the various applications. This article will serve as a guide for you to choose the right cement type for your construction project.
Major Types of Cement & Their Uses in Construction
Cement can be broadly categorized into two main classes. We have hydraulic and non-hydraulic cements. The main distinction between the two types is the ability of non-hydraulic cement to harden without water. Non-hydraulic cement will harden after reacting with carbon dioxide in the air. Hydraulic variants require water to harden.
In the market, there are several types commercially available. Now, we will briefly describe each major type.
(OPC) Ordinary Portland Cement
This is the most common type used in the construction industry worldwide. OPC, also known as CEM I, is used for producing concrete. To achieve this, water and aggregates are added to the mix. OPC has a wide range of applications, from simpler tasks like plastering to common construction projects. Higher grade OPC is also used while building complex structures like skyscrapers.
PPC (Portland Composite Cement)
Usually, a mix of pozzolana or SCM (Supplementary Siliceous Materials) and Portland cement, PPC is well-known for its defense against chemical attacks. It is also termed CEM II in the industry. Chemicals often react with concrete and reduce its strength and durability. PPC is seeing growing use in our country. Structures submerged underwater, like bridges, require protection from chemicals. PPC can be used to construct these structures.
Quick Setting Cement
The main goal of this cement is to set faster than traditional cement options. It has a lower amount of gypsum, which helps it to set quickly but maintain strength like Ordinary Portland Cement. Quick Setting Cement is used in places with a wet climate or lower temperatures. Construction in these locations requires the concrete to set swiftly.
The surface has a much better finish when white cement is used. The results are smoother as well. As a more expensive option, white cement is mainly used for decorating a structure. This cement has more lime and clay. In comparison, iron and oxide are absent.
Rapid Hardening Cement
The name says it all. Rapid Hardening Cement is used when quick hardening of concrete is a priority. This cement hardens very fast, making it a suitable choice for rapid construction. As a result, engineers use this type when building pavements.
Grades of Cement
Cement companies usually assign a grade to each type of cement that they manufacture. For example, OPC usually comes in three (03) grades: 33, 43, and 53. These three grades are used in plastering, RCC projects, and high-strength construction, respectively. Other cement types may use a similar or different grading system.
What are the Uses of Cement?
There are various uses of cement in construction. With the advancements in technology and techniques, better types of cement are being manufactured. As discussed before, certain variants are used for specific projects only. We will now explain the common uses of cement.
Plastering and Concrete Production
Plasters are layers that protect the building structure. Plasters also maintain a smooth surface. Cement mortar is used for plastering. To prepare mortar, a specific quantity of water is taken. Then, it is added to a mixture of sand and water.
Concrete is one of the most important derivatives of cement. There are tons of uses of concrete in building construction. Concrete is a mixture of water, cement, and certain types of aggregate. Depending on the cement type, concrete may also contain other materials.
Chemical, Heat, and Water Resistance
Portland Composite Cement is better at tackling chemical attacks. Cement with higher alumina proportions is used for protection against heat. We have already discussed some types of cement used for structures in water. In these structures, the concrete needs to set quickly, be resistant to moisture, and maintain its strength in water. Quick Setting Cement and Rapid Hardening Cement address these issues.
The protective ability against nature is one of the common uses of cement in civil engineering.
For Architectural Purpose
Cement is a common construction material used for building architectural structures. Choosing the right type is crucial in this case. For example, white cement does a great job of reflecting light. This is one of the multiple ways this type of cement is used for decorative or architectural construction.
Building Our Civilization
Bridges, roads, skyscrapers, dams—all have one thing in common. It’s cement. Roads or pavements can be quickly built using cement concrete. Without cement, tall skyscrapers and megaprojects like dams or bridges would have been impossible. Therefore, cement has a huge impact on the construction industry and our civilization at large.
We hope that this article improved your knowledge of the basic types of cement. You now know about their uses and about the application of cement in general.
Human civilization has come a long way by using cement. More scientific research will lead to the invention of better cement products. Our growing construction industry will definitely see increased use of cement in construction. Right now, CEM I and CEM II are the most common types of cement used in Bangladesh. But in near future, we might also see newer types in our market.