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Concrete history

Concrete has been used in construction for already more than 2,000 years and the pioneers in this field were the Romans. Concrete was widely used during the Roman times – for example it was used to build nearly 8,500 kilometres of roads and hundreds of kilometres of aqueducts.

Romans used a relatively primitive mixture for making concrete – the mortar consisted of fine gravel and coarse sand, which was mixed with hot lime powder and water. They reduced the contraction of concrete during drying by adding different additives to the mortar. One such additive was horse hair, the contemporary analogue of which is fibre strand. There were also different technologies for making concrete stronger, for example animal blood was added to the mixture, which made the mixture more stable. It is also known that both human and animal fat and ground bones were used as additives.

In 1756, the tests of the British engineer John Smeaton resulted in creating the first modern concrete recipe – adding coarse crushed stone to ground brick powder. The Portland cement known to us was created in 1824, when the English inventor Joseph Aspdin created the first “artificial cement” by heating a mixture of ground limestone and clay. The burning process created a stronger concrete than was made by using only ground limestone. Concrete based on this technology is used for production also today.

Reinforced concrete is concrete that is reinforced with metal bars. This process was invented in 1849 by Joseph Monier. Reinforced concrete combined tensile strength with ductility, which enabled concrete details to bear high loads. The process has been improved and today also different polymers or even carbon fibres are used for reinforcement.

Industrially concrete is widely used, for example for building foundations of buildings, roads, dams, floors and staircases, but also in many other areas.

A more recent trend is to use concrete widely as a design element in different interiors and exteriors, concrete can be used to make tables, sinks, fireplace casings, thresholds, wall panels, seats, windowsills, bathtubs, stairs and a lot more.