Concrete, the most commonly used manmade material in the world, has many applications in and around the home. Concrete is made of cement, fly ash, aggregate and other mix-ins. When the materials are mixed together with water, hydration occurs, bonding the mix ingredients together to form a stone-like product that has numerous uses.
Typical home construction begins with digging footings, which contain concrete, and pouring foundations, which are also made with concrete. Several current wall systems for residential building utilize concrete, including insulated concrete forms and precast concrete wall systems. Outside the home, concrete is often used to make walkways and patios, but today, homeowners and builders are finding many alternate uses for concrete in the home.
Indoor uses of concrete include kitchen countertops, floors, vanity tops, shower floors and decorative items both inside and out, like columns, fountains, sculptures and birdbaths. Not only are we finding new uses for concrete, we’re finding new ways in which to liven it up. No longer is every concrete surface a slab of drab gray. There are specialists who can paint, stamp or stain concrete. This is especially popular with concrete floors, patios and countertops.
By staining, stamping or painting a concrete surface, it can take on an entirely different appearance. Most of these applications are meant to transform the concrete into a canvas of stone, slate, marble, wood, tile or even leather. This application is a much simpler and less expensive approach to a custom-tiled or masonry patio, floor or walkway.
With the rising popularity of outdoor kitchens, concrete has even more practical uses outside the home. The main difference between the indoor and outdoor kitchen is that everything in the latter must be able to withstand the elements. What building material does that better than concrete? Concrete can be used to make knee walls around or within the outdoor kitchen, to form islands, food preparation surfaces and even outdoor furniture.
It seems ironic that in this day and age of information and technology, we rely now - more than ever - on a product that dates back to the Roman Empire. That just goes to show we’re doing something right.
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