If you work in any area of construction, then aggregates are probably something you come across every day of your working life. Aggregates are extremely versatile and as such can be regularly found being used in a wide range of building and construction projects. The main source of aggregates is natural resources such as gravel, sand and occasionally rocks. However, increased urbanisation has put a strain on natural resources leading to a reduction in the number of sites available for the quarrying process. To counteract these natural resources are often recycled to produce aggregates meaning that there are always enough to meet demand. Recycled aggregates can often be produced on-site, making them a cheaper option as there is no need for transportation which can be a big saving.
While recycled aggregates are becoming more popular there is still a heavy reliance on natural aggregates in construction. The techniques used in the production of aggregates have been honed over many years in quarries all over the world. Now as we said earlier anyone working in construction will be well aware of aggregates, so, for the uninitiated we thought we’d give you five examples of how aggregates are used in construction.
Buildings and Architecture
It is highly unlikely that you will come across any type of building that has been constructed without using aggregates. If you ask most people what is used to build houses, we can guarantee that the majority will say bricks, mortar and concrete. What a lot of those people are unaware of is that they are an essential ingredient in the make-up of concrete. This is because the aggregates are what provide concrete with its strength and consistency. So, it is safe to say that without aggregates it would be almost impossible to put up structures like houses, office blocks and shopping centres.
Over recent times the number of vehicles on the road has multiplied tenfold with many families having more than one vehicle. As a result, the strain on the road network has increased significantly, as can be seen by the number of roadworks going on every day. This increase in traffic, especially heavy loads carried by HGVs means roads surfaces are required to be stronger and more durable than ever before. This is why aggregates are so valuable, as a strong and durable material they are used to create the base layer of everything from winding country lanes to motorways. Aggregates such as crushed gravel can also be used as a surface material if necessary.
A Wide Range of Engineering Projects
As well as building and roads there are also a large number of engineering projects that rely heavily on aggregates. Structures we use as part of our everyday life such as bridges and tunnels have aggregates at the very heart of their framework. This is because high-grade aggregates have the strength and durability that is an essential component in their construction. Let’s face it both bridges and tunnels are a vital part of the nation’s transport system, and as such if they are out of action for any length of time chaos ensues.
The need for aggregates for roads and buildings is well understood, but the same cannot be said for the railway. Well, that’s where you would be wrong. Have you ever taken time to look closely at the tracks? Probably not unless you have a death wish. However, if you took time to study them, you would see the gravel that is primarily there to hold the rails and wooden cross pieces in place. This gravel and crushed stone is known as track ballast and forms a sub-base for the actual track.
They can improve the Aesthetic Appeal of your Home or Business
Another aggregate that you will see in many buildings and landscaping projects is decorative stone. The aggregates used for this purpose are normally small pieces of stone such as gravel, chippings or pebbles. Because they come in a range of different colours and sizes they are regularly used to improve the look of gardens, driveways and ponds in all manner of commercial and residential properties.
So, if you didn’t realise it before, aggregates play a vital part in all different types of construction projects from residential homes to large bridges.