Failures in Buildings | Important Construction Materials





Defects in Buildings | Building Materials used in Construction

In my previous article, we began with a discussion on Building Materials used for Construction. We have already discussed the two major building materials such as Sand and Mud. Now we will go on and discuss the role of water, Cement and Cement Mortar in Construction.

Water in Construction

Salt free water should be used on the construction site for the mixing of cement. If salty water is used in the construction, it will result in formation of cracks in the building.

For example: Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, India has brine water below 100’. That is why, the bore cannot be dug to more than 80’ feet for water to be used on the construction site.

Cement in Construction

There are various grades of cement available for the purpose of construction.

For example: M15, M20, M25 etc

The grade of cement to be used for construction is decided on the basis of the kind of construction and the structural design.

Cement is always used along with steel, that is RCC (Reinforced Cement Concrete) construction. Only cement cannot be used because it develops cracks.

Grooves are made over the layer of cement mortar.

For example: When cement flooring is done, a thin layer of cement is laid and grooves are made on the cement layer to prevent cracks.

Ratios of cement and sand in Mortar, RCC, Plastering and flooring

Cement +sand = Mortar

1 cement + 2 sand +4 steel = RCC
1 cement +6 sand = Plastering

1 cement + 8 sand = flooring

Role of Cement Mortar in Construction

Reasons for the development of cracks in cement mortar used in construction:

  • Too much cement
  • Too much water
  • Too much sand
  • Too less water
  • No curing or less curing
  • Vast expanses of plaster

Expansion co-efficient is different for different materials

For example, the co-efficient of expansion of wood is different from that of cement concrete.

That is why when cement concrete is used to along with wood, the bonding is not very strong.

Taking note of expansion co-efficient of various materials for the strength of the construction and proper bonding of materials to be used on site.



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  1. #1 by sa raji on February 22, 2011 - 10:44 am

    Good material esp for practicing engineers

  2. #2 by Ayoreko Joseph on February 3, 2012 - 9:30 am

    Interested in social affordable housing especially mud and other natural materials for buildings.

  3. #3 by Babuli Chand Gouda on March 6, 2014 - 7:30 pm

    While going for extension of slab roof buildings care should be taken up in joining two new and old slab one, if possible.
    1.The reinforcement inf available be tied togather keeping in view the structural conditions.
    2.The concrete put in joints be mixed with ISI recomended admixuture of polymer based compound .
    3.The joint be properly grouted with slurry of mement and ad mixture of recomended bonding agent.

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