For centuries, one of the most common materials used in construction has been the concrete. Formed from hardened concrete, concrete has been used for everything from access roads to foundations for homes. However, as technology advances, concrete is no longer the final tool for construction. It has a variety of disadvantages that must be considered prior to use.
The use of concrete dates from many ancient civilizations. The Romans, in particular, used concrete for everything from the buildings of the aqueduct nuclei. The Romans were also among the first to experiment with the mixture of additives in the concrete. They understood that their blend with certain things makes it more water resistant and less prone to cracking under pressure.
Concrete is still known today for its durability and longevity. As with any building material, it has its share of completely acceptable alternatives. Wood is often designed to be load bearing, particularly on bases, and can be treated to withstand the negative effects of moisture and termites. Steel is robust and cost effective, and can be ideal in areas infested by insects. Insulated steel panels are also often used in place of concrete in the construction of walls.
A major disadvantage of concrete is that all structures made from it will crack at some point. Concrete may also rupture as a result of contraction, which occurs when it dries. These cracks develop within a few days of the laying of the structure. This generally does not limit the durability of a structure.
Another disadvantage of concrete is its low thermal conductivity. While concrete is typically used as a layer of fire protection between walls, it can be heavily damaged when exposed to intense heat. Concrete will help contain the spread of a fire, but in the process becomes unusable.
Concrete also easily corrodes when exposed to sea water. The effects are quick if the concrete is completely submerged for prolonged periods of time. Concrete can be worn by the waves and by the sand and other materials that the ocean carries.