Archive for Houston Concrete

The History of Cement and Concrete Part 1

The History of Cement and Concrete

Introduction 

Cement and concrete have a long and illustrious history. From the Ancient Egyptians to modern buildings, both have served as materials for the most astonishing of construction projects. This five-part series tracks how the materials have developed over time. 

Part 1: Who first used cement?

Natural cement has been around for at least 12 million years. Ancient Egyptians used cementitious materials – those that bond things together – including lime, clay and gypsum, to create the Pyramids. Early Chinese civilizations used these substances in the Great Wall. And Babylonians and Assyrians were using cements to bind stone and brick.

The use of cements and concrete was widespread in the Roman era. Polozzana cement from Italy, made from volcanic ash from Mount Etna, was used to build structures that are still here today. The Appian Way, the Coliseum, and the Pantheon all used cement. Wherever they went, the Romans found ways to use the local natural materials to create bonding substances. They adapted the materials and processes to a huge variety of construction, including bath houses, walls, and aqueducts.

The use of both concrete and cements was documented by Marcus Vitruvius Pollo, a Roman Architect, in his ‘Ten Books of Architecture’. In the series, he includes instructions for pouring a concrete floor and a ‘recipe’ to mix the polozzana cements.

Unfortunately, widespread knowledge and use of cements was lost at the end of the Roman era only to be rediscovered in the later years of the Middle Ages.


 

The History of Cement and Concrete Part 2

The History of Cement and Concrete 

Introduction 

Cement and concrete have a long and illustrious history. From the Ancient Egyptians to modern buildings, both have served as materials for the most astonishing of construction projects. This five-part series tracks how the materials have developed over time.

Part 2: The production of hydraulic cement

 

Hydraulic cement is created when a chemical reaction takes place between water and the cements (a combination of silica and lime). The Romans had developed a process to create hydraulic cements, but this was lost during the Middle Ages. In fact, it was not until the 17th and 18th centuries that the methods for making hydraulic cements were formalized.

Perhaps the first noted contribution to the development of modern cement was John Smeaton who built a lighthouse in the English Channel that is now known as Smeaton’s Tower. Tidal flows meant that he needed a cements that would set within the twelve-hour cycle. He carried out a number of experiments combining cementitious materials in different quantities until he was successful. This work found that the hydraulic characteristics of the cement were directly related to the clay content of the limestone used in the mix.

Experimentation with different types of cements continued in the following years with different mixes gaining popularity for different building styles. In England, Joseph Aspdin, a bricklayer from Leeds, obtained a patent for his ‘Portland Cement’ in 1824. His process created the first true artificial cements by burning ground limestone and clay together. Aspdin’s substance is noted as being the first step towards the Portland cements known today.

 

 

The History of Cement and Concrete Part 3

The History of Cement and Concrete 

Introduction 

Cement and concrete have a long and illustrious history. From the Ancient Egyptians to modern buildings, both have served as materials for the most astonishing of construction projects. This five-part series tracks how the materials have developed over time. 

Part 3: The invention of reinforced concrete

Reinforced concrete – or ferroconcrete – was the next stage in the develop of concrete and cement as building materials. Concrete is a combination of cement with sand, water and aggregate, or crushed stone. Because it is weak when stretched, concrete was not the ideal building material for many structures. Reinforced concrete sought to answer this challenge. It was developed in the nineteenth century as a way to strengthen the building material, with steel rods, bars or mesh embedded within it. This combination helps to absorb tension created by wind, earthquakes, vibrations and other forces.

Credit is usually given to Joseph Monier who received a patent in 1867. Monier was a Parisian gardener who experimented with the approach in his garden pots. Others attribute the invention to W.B. Wilkinson who was a plasterer from Newcastle, England. Wilkinson’s method inserted straightened steel barrel hoops into wet concrete. Whatever the case, Monier exhibited his invention at the Paris Exposition in 1867 and promoted its use for floors, arches and pipes.

Use of this reinforced concrete became widespread, first in Europe and then in the United States, soon becoming one of the world’s most common building materials. The method was even used to create vast structures such as the Hoover and Grand Coulee Dams.

 

The History of Cement and Concrete Part 4

The History of Cement and Concrete Part 4 

Introduction 

Cements and concrete have a long and illustrious history. From the Ancient Egyptians to modern buildings, both have served as materials for the most astonishing of construction projects. This five-part series tracks how the materials have developed over time. 

Part 4: Making modern cement and concrete

Both cements and concrete are made from limestone. Cement is made by heating powdered limestone with clay. Concrete can then be made by mixing the cement with sand, water and aggregate. The combinations cause chemical reactions to occur so that they both set hard. Different combinations can be created to produce concrete with specific characteristics, strength and durability – so that it works for each specific job.

Reinforced concrete takes the concrete and introduces another steel making it a composite material. Each substance reacts differently to forces; as steel has tensile strength and concrete has compressive strength. In other words, concrete is strong when pushed together and steel is strong when stretched. The addition of steel to the concrete makes the entire substance stronger.

Because different combinations of minerals and rocks can be used to create both concrete and cements, standard tests have been developed to ensure that they are being mixed and used appropriately. Bodies like the American Concrete Institute ensure these standards are maintained.

 

The History of Cement and Concrete, Part 5

The History of Cement and Concrete Part 5

Introduction 

Cement and concrete have a long and illustrious history. From the Ancient Egyptians to modern buildings, both have served as materials for the most astonishing of construction projects. This five-part series tracks how the materials have developed over time.

The versatility of both cement and concrete means that they are still widely used in construction today. Cement can be used in mortar for plastering therefore making joints for drains and pipes, in the preparation of foundations and in the construction of bridges, dams, tunnels, wells and roads. It is also a major element in concrete. Concrete can be used for residential driveways, house foundations, walls, and paving.

In fact, cement and concrete are some of the most versatile and widely-used building materials in the world today. The ingredients are easily available in most places and can be cast on site which makes the process economical. CementS and concrete are durable, non-combustible and resistant to wind and water. They can also be cast to any shape. As an inert construction material they do not emit any volatile compounds. This provides excellent air quality. And their use helps governments and developers meet sustainability goals. Most of all, they are long-lasting with very slow deterioration.

Will we continue to use concrete and cementS into the future? Nothing yet suggests that we will ever have to look for other building materials.

 

 

What is cement and when and how was it invented?

Of course, ancient civilizations have been using a type of cementation before the modern concrete was invented.  The Romans, the ancient Greeks, Babylonians and Egyptians all had their types of binders.  The Romans and the Greeks utilized a pozzolan, sometimes artificial, for creating hydraulic cement.  Before that, the Babylonians used bitumen as a binder for bricks and Egyptians used mortar for their stones.

To understand cementation,it is first important to note that the Pozzolanic Reaction is a chemical reaction and the reason and process used to create cement.  Pozzolans are silicous and aluminous materials and when mixed with water and lime it chemically reacts.  This reaction between water and the combination of a silica and lime (calcium oxide) is known as hydraulic cement.

A method for producing hydraulic cement was finally patented by Joseph Aspdin in 1824.  Mr. Joseph Aspdin was a mason bricklayer in Leeds, England and named his Portland Cement because the color reminded him of the quarry near the Britain coast called the Isle of Portland.

One score and five years later Joseph Monier took the process a step further and invented reinforced concrete which was used on the first concrete bridge in 1889 as well as the first reinforced concrete dam in 1936; the Hoover Dam.

Please contact us at Bill Houston Concrete Construction, Inc. at 281-443-0874 or houstonconcrete@sbcglobal.net for a consultation, we are always eager to share our knowledge.

How does Houston’s climate affect concrete?

For many, Houston has an enviable climate: hot in the summer; mild in the winter; and with levels of humidity throughout the year to make it a fertile growing spot. But how does the heat and moisture impact on Houston’s infrastructure and, specifically, its concrete?

We know that humidity, along with a wide temperate range, can significantly impact the performance of concrete. As with other materials, concrete can expand in the heat and contract in the cold, meaning that structures can shift and cracks can appear. Houston’s humid climate presents other challenges, increasing the pH levels of concrete and compromising its integrity, compressive strength and durability.  Moisture can also lead to the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria, which can weaken the material, and might even contribute to the worsening of a chemical reaction within the concrete that turns its inners to gel.

Yet concrete still remains a key construction material in Houston, not least because of its affordability, durability and thermal mass, slowing the passage of heat to keep buildings cool on the inside no matter how high the outside temperature soars.

The solution, then, lies in using expert concrete contractors who understand the highs and lows of Houston’s climate and its impact on all stages of the process, from producing the right mix for your construction project to the finished article. As we’ve seen with the bridge repairs across Texas over the past few years, regular maintenance and repair is essential for making concrete work in Houston. Please contact us at Bill Houston Concrete Construction, Inc. at 281-443-0874 or houstonconcrete@sbcglobal.net for a consultation, we are always eager to share our knowledge.

BHCC, Inc.

Houston, TX 77041

What is a Bollard?

Bollards are a series of short post utilized to protect specific and sensitive areas as well as guiding traffic appropriately. It can provide relief from certain impacts where building protection and security are important. Bollards can also be placed in series or in line to serve as a visual characteristic to manage pedestrian walkway areas and warehouse driveways for vehicle loading and logistics. Other applications might include boundary demarcations or access prevention to restricted areas as well as building entrances and utility rooms.

Modern bollards come in many designs and functions for a multitude of applications and uses. The majority of bollards are used for warehouse and business protection from vehicle or forklift operations. These are the standard steel posts or pipes that are embedded with a concrete reinforcement for actual physical protection.

Bollards come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and looks that can be appealing in many a different settings. Bollards are mainly utilized for protection against sensitive areas and our company has extensive experience in this area as well as other concrete services and products. Please contact us at Bill Houston Concrete Construction, Inc. at 281-443-0874 or houstonconcrete@sbcglobal.net for a consultation, we are always eager to share our knowledge.

The Role of the Retention Pond Lift Station

When driving the streets of Houston you will notice retention ponds on the sites of new construction and usually associated with these ponds are lift stations that aren’t very noticeable unless one was looking for it. Often built near new developmental areas, detention ponds and basins are created to catch water runoff from higher elevations during heavy rain. The run off water is then retained until the streets and ditches have drained away, at that point the detention pond water can be released but only at the rate of release determined by the governing body.

Whether your project is located in the city of Houston, Harris county or surrounding cities and counties, you will need to check with the proper permitting agency to determine if your construction project will be required to install a detention pond and or a lift station. These facilities are gaining popularity to the point that it is almost mandatory for new construction. Pump stations are used to pump runoff water at a controlled rate from a low elevation to a high elevation mainly when the gravity flow is not sufficient enough to move the water naturally.

Most lift station equipment systems are pre fabricated and installed in an enclosure but often can be customized on site depending on different variables. Included in these stations are a receiving well with a screen to catch larger materials, pumping motors, pipes with valves, alarm controlling system and a odor ventilation system.

These are just a few of the services we offer.  Contact Bill Houston Concrete Construction, Inc. at 281-443-0874 or houstonconcrete@sbcglobal.net for a consultation.

Selecting the Ideal Houston Concrete Contractor for Your Project

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When choosing a company to help with your project, it is essential to enlist the services of a proven and professional contractor. Every project is different. How can you ensure success before you’ve even begun? Bill Houston Concrete Construction, Inc. wants you to know what to look for and which questions to ask before you hire a contractor.

For most people, the easiest place to begin the hunt for a Houston concrete contractor is on the internet. Due to Houston’s large population, an internet search will return thousands of results, and the task of choosing the right one for a specific project can be a time-consuming endeavor.

However, you can narrow your results by looking for top-rated contractors, current websites, history and references. We suggest you put together a short list of 5-7 potential contractors that might fit the needs of your specific concrete project.

Once you have a list, look for customer reviews of services online. Were people satisfied with their final product, the customer interaction and the time frame to completion? Eliminate any contractors that have multiple complaints or negative reviews in the last couple of years as their services may not be the quality you deserve. Check online reviews as well as the Better Business Bureau.

Browse each contractor’s company website. Look for photos of past concrete projects as evidence of their work and craftsmanship. Check to see if they have any certificates or references on the website such as the Better Business Bureau’s Accredited Business stamp. Next, look for answers to the important questions. Some you might find online, others might require a phone call

  1. How long has the contractor been in business?
  2. Does the contractor carry general liability insurance and worker’s compensation?
  3. Can they provide a Certificate of Insurance?
  4. Can they provide job references or testimonials?
  5. Will they have a supervisor on site at all times who can answer questions?
  6. Do they provide a written warranty?
  7. How many days will be needed to complete the project?
  8. Will there be any down payments or deposits required to start?
  9. Does the contractor hire employees or subcontractors?
  10. Can the contractor provide soil testing, clearing and permits needed for the job?

These questions should help determine the ideal contractors to start contacting. Bill Houston Concrete Construction, Inc. recommends choosing the three best candidates to start with. Contact each one by phone or email. This is a good way of judging what type of relationship can be expected based on the level of customer service received on the initial contact. Good companies with years of experience will have attentive and knowledgeable people willing to help you assess goals and set appropriate expectations.

Also, make sure the contractor has a deep understanding and thorough knowledge of concrete, asphalt and the effects of different weather conditions such as heat and humidity. As you know, the weather here in Houston is unpredictable and can create big problems for inexperienced contractors and their clients.

Now it’s time for the final decision, we suggest you meet with the concrete contractors that have made the best impressions. During this meeting, you should have a chance to view their portfolio or gallery of past work, and get a quote or at least a rough estimate of your project’s cost, scope and timelines. This will give you the chance to compare and judge the best working relationship and make the most informed decision.

Contact Bill Houston Concrete Construction, Inc. at 281-443-0874 or houstonconcrete@sbcglobal.net for a consultation.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]