Architectural and Decorative Concrete
Concrete is one of the most widely used construction materials in the world.
One special subset is called architectural and decorative concrete, which refers to a substance that provides an
aesthetic finish and structural capabilities in one. This material is made to be seen.
Whether creating broad expanses or minute details, concrete permanently captures the chosen look.
Achieving an architectural or decorative appearance usually requires that something different be done to
the concrete. Whether that involves special forms, special finishing techniques, or special ingredients,
the variety of effects is almost unlimited.
|Original art by Carolyn Braaksma |
White Portland Cement: A Key Ingredient
White cement concrete is a brilliant architectural material. Whether plain or pigmented, it allows for a broad
spectrum of colors-from bright whites and pastels to saturated colors. It can be textured, patterned, or
shaped to almost any form, allowing architects to be truly creative in their designs.
Imagination becomes architectural reality with white cement.
What makes white cement so architecturally appealing is its versatility. It can be used for:
- Cast-in-place concrete
- Precast concrete
- Tilt-up concrete
- Repair and retrofit applications
- Masonry and mortar
- Stucco finishes
Good Looks and More
From large to small items, structural to decorative members, white cement is the key to good looking
concreteand masonry construction.
A versatile appearance allows white cement concrete, which is pigment-friendly, to fit in with any environment.
Beyond aesthetics, its light color offers energy efficiency and safety.
These qualities can be used to advantage for:
- Bridge parapets and barrier medians
- Light reflective floors
- Exposed architectural concrete
- City streetscapes: curbs & gutters, planters
- Building accents
Whether inside or outside, white cement concrete provides a hard-wearing,
durable surface that stands up to heavy use.
Technical Aspects of Designing with White Cement Concrete
White portland cement has essentially the same properties as gray cement, except for its color.
An important quality control issue in the industry, the color of white cement depends on raw materials
and the manufacturing process. Metal oxides, primarily iron and manganese,
influence the whiteness and undertone of the material. White cement is manufactured to conform to ASTM C 150,
Specification for Portland Cement.
Types I and III are the most common, but Types II and V are also produced.
Mix designs for white or colored concrete are formulated with respect to the following ingredients,
paying particular attention to the resultant effect on color:
- Type and color of cement
- Type and dosage of pigment
- Type and dosage of chemical admixtures
- Type, gradation, color, and cleanliness of fine and coarse aggregates
- Type and dosage of supplementary cementing materials: calcined clay, slag, white silica fume
- Consistent proportions, especially maintaining a uniform water-cement ratio
It is always recommended to develop a mix design and build sample panels in advance of starting
a white cement concrete project.
That way, mixtures can be refined and improved and material usage can be optimized.
The mockups serve as references for color and surface appearance during the construction phase of the project.
In North America, white cement is widely available and aggregates are abundant throughout the country.
In the end, no matter where you need it, white cement concrete can be there.