Reinforced concrete is used regularly within many construction projects across a wide array of sectors. Due to its improved strength and longevity reinforced concrete is selected over steel and standard concrete in many applications. But what is reinforced concrete, what types of reinforcement do Red Leaf Developments use and what applications is it suitable for?
What is reinforced concrete?
Reinforced concrete is created by placing steel work or another material within concrete formwork before casting. The steel or other material inside can come in many forms, including rods, bars, fibres and mesh, but all are inserted in a manner that allows both the concrete and the steel to work together to resist sheer, tensile and compressive stress.
Concrete by itself has great compressive load strength, but it is susceptible to tensile and sheer stresses placed on it by things such as wind and vibrations, this makes it a poor choice for most structural applications. Steel by comparison has good resistance to sheer and tensile stresses. By combining the two materials a material that has both good compressive load strength and good tensile and sheer force strength is produced.
The invention of reinforced steel in the 19th Century completely revolutionised construction. Buildings could be made taller, foundations and pads could withstand more weight, this led to reinforced concrete being one of the most widely used materials in construction.
Types of reinforced concrete
There are several forms of reinforced concrete, some contain materials other than steel to provide different types of reinforcement. Multiple layers of reinforcement can be added to increase the load the concrete is able to withstand. The most common reinforced concrete types used by Red Leaf Development are:
Rebar is added to the formwork in different configurations before the concrete is poured, due to rebars flexibility it can be manipulated into a variety of shapes making it suitable for many different formwork shapes. The required shape is often formed on site with Rebar, then shuttering is added to surround the rebar before concrete is poured into the shuttering to cover the Rebar. Rebar features a helical recess that enables concrete to have a mechanical grip on the rod, keeping it more secure when the concrete has set.
Rebar is also often used in pre-fabricated concrete panels, however these are created in set sizes and then sent to the site, this allows for faster building (as the concrete is already set) especially for multi-storey projects.
GLASS REINFORCED PLASTICS
Glass Reinforced Plastics (GRP) are high strength glass fibre rod reinforced with a vinyl resin, like rebar is features a helical recess that enables concrete to have a mechanical grip on the rod. GRP is created using fiberglass strands, woven together and dipped into a resin before being formed into their required shape before curing, this type of manufacturing is called pultrusion manufacturing and produces a high tensile strength rod able to reinforce concrete.
GRP is lighter than steel but still strong, but unlike concrete GRP is non-electrically conductive which can provide advantages over traditional steel rebar. Although it burns similarly to wood, it is considered a sustainable building material and it used in many products within may sectors.
Applications of reinforced concrete in construction
Reinforced concrete has a wide range of applications throughout the construction industry, from the construction of skyscrapers and houses to ports and waste management facilities. Reinforced concrete is also used in transport infrastructure such as rail, haul roads and bridges. At Red Leaf Developments we use reinforced concrete on many projects including:
Heavy duty concrete pads
Red Leaf Developments have used a number of reinforced concrete solutions to provide supersized heavy duty concrete pads for clients. By layering rebar and GRP meshes in multiple layers over formwork and using C40 or PAV2 concretes, a super strong concrete pad can be created to hold extreme weights upwards of 1,000 tons.
This allows for heavy static machinery, such as reactors to be housed on foundations that can withstand their extreme weight without compromising the lifespan of the foundation pad.
Haul roads need to be strong enough to withstand the pressure of heavy plant and other vehicles repeatedly traversing it without cracking under pressure. They usually also require concrete barriers to stop plant and other vehicles from being able to leave the haul road and traverse along an unsuitable surface. Reinforced concrete is a must for heavy duty haul roads, as it’s able to withstand the weight of traffic without cracking or subsiding, reinforcement is also included within the concrete barriers and other elements of a haul road.
Retaining walls are used to hold back soil and other material from a particular area, be that a construction site or a finished building cut into the landscape. Reinforced concrete allows for a larger mass of soil to be placed behind the retaining wall, it also helps to ensure that if any cracks within the concrete begin to occur, the helical grip of the rebar thread will help to hold the retaining wall together while repairs can be undertaken.
There are a vast number of applications for reinforced concrete in the construction industry, its strength and flexibility in construction method has allowed for the construction of taller and heavier structures.