Concrete … mould it, shape it, colour it …

Concrete … mould it, shape it, colour it …
October 26, 2017

Photo: Elephant Hill Winery features an impressive concave concrete ceiling

Whether you are building your first home or rebuilding a city, the essential starting point is laying a foundation that will stand the test of time and nature.

With concrete being the most widely used construction material on earth its benefits and contribution to society are immense. Eight out of ten homes in New Zealand have concrete foundations and it is used extensively to build our schools, hospitals, high rises, bridges, tunnels, dams, roads, runways and more.

In many developed countries concrete buildings and infrastructure comprises approximately 60% of the built environment. Produced from readily available raw materials, concrete’s strength, durability, thermal mass, acoustic performance, fire resistance, its CO2 absorption capabilities and its hypoallergenic benefits will ensure its contribution to a sustainable New Zealand community continues to be significant.

Benefits of mass

Most heavy construction materials have the ability to absorb, store and gradually release heat – a property commonly referred to as thermal mass. The most common high mass material used in residential construction is concrete.   It is readily available, relatively inexpensive, can be used in the structure of the house and, due to its thermal mass, has the ability to moderate temperature extremes, reduce energy consumption and create a more comfortable home.

Durability and longevity

Concrete has the ability to resist weathering action, chemical attack and abrasion while maintaining its desired engineering properties. As a highly durable construction material, with low maintenance requirements, well designed concrete structures can be expected to exceed both their economic and their minimum service life as specified in the New Zealand Building Code, and in some cases last for centuries. Te Papa Museum in Wellington, for instance, contains approximately 80,000m3 of concrete and has a minimum life expectancy of 150 years.

Almost anything is possible…

There is something solid and reassuring about concrete but it is also a favourite with architects when they seek to create stylish, award-winning homes and buildings. Concrete is a license to get creative, allowing you to do things that just can’t be done in a standard timber-framed home. A polished concrete floor is just one of a huge number of surface finishes that can be achieved. With the use of treatments such as stains, stamps, stencils, polishing, grinding and the addition of colour pigments and custom aggregate (coloured stone, glass or shell) you are only limited by your imagination when it comes to creating an attractive concrete surface finish.

For information about Certified Concrete®, Decorative Concrete which includes Firth Elements Coloured Concrete or an Exposed Aggregate contact us at info@firth.co.nz or 0800 FIRTH1.

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