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What Makes Concrete Cheaper?

Cost is at the forefront of our minds in almost everything we do. Whether it’s a contractor trying to budget for a big construction project or a homeowner trying to save a little on a DIY job, building projects can get pricey.

Pouring a concrete slab

As one of the most popular and useful building materials on the planet, concrete is sure to factor in to your project sooner or later. If you’re in the market for concrete, then price has probably crossed your mind – but what can make concrete cheaper? In this article, we’re looking at concrete costs and what might affect them.

The materials used

As we’ve covered before, concrete is made of of three primary ingredients: cement, water and aggregates. The overall quality and properties of the mix are decided by how these ingredients are proportioned.

The cement is the most expensive part of the mix by far, and people often try to save money by opting for mixes with as little cement as possible. Obviously, this has a knock on effect on the final quality of the concrete. The balance you have to strike is using as little cement as possible while still maintaining decent strength and workability.

Aggregates are the other key material when it comes to cost. Typically, the less cement you have, the more aggregates you need – and the cheaper the concrete is as a result.

Aggregates

We’ve looked at the role of aggregates in concrete before. Workability is the most notable physical property affected by both the amount and type of aggregates put into a mix. But when you factor in price, it makes your decision slightly more complicated.

If you need workable concrete with a higher slump – better fluidity/workability – the water/cement ratio will need to be higher. That means fewer aggregates and more cement, so it’ll be more expensive. It’s tough to avoid this if that’s the kind of concrete you need, so it’s always worth discussing this in depth with your supplier before finalising what mix you want.

Aggregates quality

Crushing plant and limestone mine

As you’d expect, higher quality material makes for a more expensive base cost for your mix. Quality concrete is essential for just about every structural application, so if you’re paying a price far too good to be true, then your mix probably won’t be up to scratch.

But some mixes don’t require the most premium quality aggregates. Say you need concrete simply to fill in holes, or for subbase layers – you can choose large, coarse aggregates that are cheaper than other kinds, but do the same kind of job. It’s all about recognising what your mix requires and how your aggregates choice will influence that end result.

Should I always go for the cheapest I can find?

While a bargain is generally a good thing, when it comes to concrete you do pay for what you get. Yes, you can limit expenditure and maintain quality by paying close attention to your mix proportions, but if you simply opt for a concrete mix that is suspiciously cheap than you may end up regretting it in the future.

But affordable concrete can still be high quality. A good supplier will ensure that a customer only pays for the concrete they use – no fears of over or under ordering. And, as mentioned, revising your mix proportions will also help.

Readymix concrete is generally cheaper by nature, so for DIY projects, you can really save a lot without ever compromising on quality.

In any case, it’s always best to discuss your requirements with your supplier. They’ll advise on price and the most suitable proportions for your needs – including aggregates, cement and any admixtures if required.

Neil Sullivan & Sons provide a range of quality concrete services to customers throughout the South East. From ready mix and volumetric concrete to screed, topsoil and aggregates and concrete pumping, we are here to make your construction project as simple as can possible. We ensure that you only pay for what you use, and we always aim for prompt and reliable delivery to every customer. For more information, or to arrange your concrete delivery with us, simply contact us today.

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