Many people mistakenly think that concrete was first used around the time of the Industrial Revolution, yet, in fact, mankind was using a basic form of concrete as far back as 6,500BC, when they made floors using concrete. Even the Egyptian pyramids were fabricated using a crude form of cement, used to hold the stones in place and around the time of Christ, the Romans were using concrete for their roads and buildings.
The Roman builders used a mixture of volcanic ash, lime and seawater, then filling timber forms to create building blocks. Once the blocks had hardened, they would be stacked up ready for transportation, which was a cart with horses or donkeys, or sometimes many men pulling a huge cart on ropes.
A Step Backwards
Sadly, after the Roman civilisation, the use of concrete was forgotten until the early 15th century, when manuscripts were found that contained the recipe for making pozzolan cement, and this kindled a new interest in concrete for construction.
The Need for Lime
In the 18th century, an Englishman by the name of John Smeaton discovered a method of creating hydraulic lime, and shortly after that in 1824, another English man, Joseph Aspdin invented Portland cement. He burnt finely powdered chalk and clay until the carbon dioxide was removed and he named the cement Portland, the location of the best stone quarry.
Portland cement was used in the late 19th century to build houses in the UK and France, and steel rebar came into the equation, as a method to strengthen the concrete. If you are building in Australia and need some essential steel rebar, check out Best Bar, a leading supplier of all types of steel reinforcement for concrete construction.
The First Concrete High Rise Building
In 1904, the Ingalls Building was constructed in Cincinnati Ohio and shortly after that, the first load of ready-mixed concrete was transported to a construction site, while air entraining agents were developed, which gave the concrete a lot more strength.
The Hoover Dam
This massive engineering project was finally finished in 1936, as was another dam, the Grand Coulee, both of which were made from poured concrete and this saw the material developed and used globally to build roads, bridges and high-rise buildings.
Fibre Reinforced Concrete
Introduced in 1970, steel rebar was used extensively to add tensile strength to concrete buildings, and in 1985, the Union Plaza was finished, and the building used super-strength concrete. Polished concrete arrived in 1990 and this was very quickly spread around the world, adding a new level of style and elegance to what was previously a bland finish.
Despite the emergence of composite materials, there’s nothing to compare with concrete and steel rebar, which are used extensively around the world for construction, and if you are looking to resurface your driveway, why not opt for concrete? It is cheap, very durable and comes in many colours, plus with a range of finishes, you can create something unique.