The most important structural components of a building construction are the columns-beams-slabs made of concrete and the walls which are made of bricks and plaster. The main ingredients in concrete, mortar and plaster are cement, sand, stone chips, water, steel reinforcement etc. As an Architect, I have been dealing with these materials for the past 20 years. And in any site, I always look out for the quality of these materials as that can impact the overall construction considerably.
People constructing houses can never be sure of the quality of the materials that the contractor brings to site. To help you, I shall describe some of the features you need to look out for, that indicate good quality building materials.
Usage of Cement in Buildings:
Cement is the binder that holds concrete and mortars together and hence it plays the most critical role in giving strength and durability to your home. It is used to make concrete for slabs, foundations, beams, columns, lintels, chhajja (sunshades), and mortar for brickwork, plastering, flooring and other such work.
Types of Cement used in house construction:
- Cements used for domestic building such as your home are basically of three types:
- Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC): A combination of clinker and gypsum.
- Portland Slag Cement (PSC): A combination of good quality blast furnace slag (from the iron and steel industry) with clinker (which makes OPC) and gypsum.
- Portland Pozzolana Cement (PPC): A combination of fly-ash (from thermal power plants) with clinker and gypsum.
Ideal cement for house construction:
- The best cement for house construction is blended cement like PSC and PPC. But please note that good quality blended cements like PSC and PPC will take more time to set. However the final strength after 28 days will be much more.
- Features of good quality cement:
- Reduced water requirement.
- Improved workability .
- Less permeable to moisture.
- Improved resistance to acids and chlorides.
- Reduced heat of hydration.
- Easier to finish.
- Reduced shrinkage.
- Reduced leaching problems because it is low on free lime.