Over the last decades, while scientists started identifying more precisely the durability phenomena and parameters involved, the admixture chemistry industry helped to produce stronger and more durable concrete. By developing surface protection products like sealers, it was possible to reduce concrete skin permeability and sensitivity to chemical attacks and deposits while enhancing concrete colour intensity or shine, for example.
Today, the industry evolves toward flexible and efficient solutions to support not only the durability of concrete but also its aesthetical integration into its surrounding. A large variety of shapes, textures and colours is becoming available at industrial scale for all concrete production processes. This presentation will report recent industrial progress.
IntroductionConcrete has long proven to be one of the most current and durable construction materials in the world. Thinking about concrete, we praise its ability to realize every kind of construction such as roads, bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers or more commonly residential houses. Three aspects can explain this success: the low cost, the everywhere availability of the raw materials and the capability to mould any kind of shape at ambient temperature. As a consequence, concrete has become nowadays so much natural part of our environment that we don’t take any more time to observe it. Unfortunately, when some people start to set their eyes on concrete, their opinion relates often to a lack of aesthetics. How many times have we heard complaints about impersonal, grey uniform concrete surfaces? It is clear that this aspect has been too long time neglected to the benefit of functional purposes.
Today, however, sustainability awareness has been rising, which tends to better integrate concrete into its environment: in terms of durability, of course, but also in a more aesthetical way. In this approach, we will first analyse the most advanced practices to improve plain exposed concrete surfaces, considering especially raw materials, mix design and concreting process. Then we will see how surfaces can be further treated to the benefit of aesthetics, going through some innovative techniques which use multiple choices of colours and textures. Such enhancements making only sense if they withstand time, we will show case solutions able to provide a durable aesthetic advantage.