Lightweight concrete is very important in the construction industry. It is also preferred by many due to its improved sound insulation, thermal properties and reduced mass. Despite having a reduced mass, however, it still maintains adequate strength and stays durable during construction. Its density is also less than that of a standard concrete because it uses lightweight coarse aggregates or lightweight fine aggregates.
These lightweight aggregates are clay, expanded shale, and other slate materials that have been heated in a rotary kiln to achieve the porous structure. An air cooled blast furnace is also sometimes used to achieve this effect, although this is a much longer process to produce the same result.
This concrete actually has a density of one hundred and five pounds per cubic foot; compared to standard concrete with a density of one hundred and fifty pounds per cubic foot.
Recently a new type of lightweight concrete has been been developed. It combines the advantages of cellular concrete and normal aggregate. Hence, it is durable and well insulated. It has good sound and thermal insulation. It was made using an admixture that introduces bubbles into the cement mixture while mixing. Because of this, it can be combined with both lightweight and normal aggregate. It is ideal to be used in layered or sandwich construction.
This concrete is mainly used to reduce the total weight or load of a concrete structure. This lets the structural designer reduce the size of footings, columns, and other elements. It also produces a higher fire rated structure, which is why it is typically used for roofing, flooring, precast walls, and other building components that do not bear load. Plus lighter concrete has better thermal insulating quality.
In the United States, the price of this concrete is higher than that of standard concrete. This is because the American manufacturing facilities have previously produced heavier blocks. Currently, there are only a few companies that produce AAC blocks. In the future, however, more companies are expected to produce AAC blocks. When this happens, the cost of this concrete should go down.
Nevertheless, lightweight concrete is still preferred by many despite its price. It has a lot of advantages over standard concrete. It is ideal to be used in residential and commercial construction. Also, its high initial cost is offset by cheap shipping costs. It does not require huge volumes to be used either. Hence, it is considered to be cost-efficient.