Versatile and durable, concrete structures thousands of years old are still in use today, and concrete has grown to be the most widely used construction material worldwide. Working with large volumes of on-site concrete work can be simplified with a Southbelt cement pig on the job site. 

What Is Concrete and Why Is It Important?

While many use the terms concrete and cement interchangeably, concrete most accurately references a building material in which cement is a primary ingredient. Concrete is fundamentally a mixture of cement, water, sand or another fine aggregate, and crushed stone or gravel. Additives or admixtures such as pigments, plasticizers, and accelerators can be used to enhance concrete’s performance and workability.

Concrete’s value comes from its:

  • Availability
  • Durability
  • Longevity
  • Resilience
  • Strength
  • Versatility
  • Workability 
  • Safety

Concrete Applications for the Construction Industry

Nearly every project in the construction industry can take advantage of concrete’s strength and versatility, including:

  • Buildings and building materials
  • Countertops
  • Culverts and sewers
  • Dams
  • Floors
  • Foundations and slabs
  • Highways and freeways
  • Parking structures
  • Ramps, bridges, and overpasses
  • Roads and streets
  • Walls, barriers, and bollards

Types of Concrete Used in the Construction Industry

While the basic ingredients of concrete are consistent, different ratios and types of these components, admixtures, and embedded materials offer enhanced characteristics for specific concrete construction applications. Types of concrete are generally classified by:

  • Components of the concrete mixture
  • Conditions under which it will be used
  • Density

Among dozens of types of concrete, the most common are:

Plain Concrete

Also called regular concrete, this most common and familiar variety of concrete is typically mixed in a 1:2:4 ratio of cement, sand, and aggregate materials. It is commonly used in pavement and flooring applications where tensile (pulling or stretching) strength isn’t critical.

High-Density Concrete

High-density or heavyweight concrete is produced by using high-density crushed rocks, such as hematite and barite, as aggregate material. It is typically used in hazardous environments, such as nuclear power and oil and gas industry applications. 

Lightweight Concrete

The use of porous aggregates such as pumice, vermiculite, or scoria produces low-density concrete that is suitable for bridge decks, flooring, insulation, and paving.

Precast Concrete

Produced in a facility offsite, precast concrete is mixed and molded under controlled conditions, and finished pieces are delivered to a worksite. Typical applications for precast concrete include columns, tunnels, stair units, and components for prefabricated construction.

Reinforced Concrete

Embedding metal wires, cables, or rods to make reinforced concrete helps to minimize one of concrete’s few weaknesses—low tensile strength (resistance to being pulled apart). This enhanced tensile strength makes reinforced concrete popular for larger projects such as bridges, dams, large buildings, and foundations.

Prestressed Concrete

Prestressed concrete is a special type of reinforced concrete in which tensioned wires or bars are embedded in concrete that is compressed or prestressed as it is formed. This preparation allows prestressed concrete to better counteract extreme stresses in such applications as balconies, floor slabs, water tanks, and piping.


Also known by the trade name gunite, shotcrete is so named due to its application, rather than how it’s made. Sprayed with force through a nozzle, shotcrete is commonly applied to walls, tunnels, ceilings, and other challenging locations.

Air-Entrained Concrete

The addition of tiny air bubbles produces a more workable and permeable concrete which can aid durability in areas with frequent freeze-thaw cycles. 

Self-Consolidating Concrete

Self-consolidating concrete is a highly-flowable mixture, so it can fill complex forms and surround embedded reinforcements, compacting itself with its own weight rather than requiring additional labor. 

Glass-Reinforced Concrete

The addition of glass fibers to the concrete mix enhances its strength, flexibility, and durability, making it a popular choice for facades, cladding, architectural details, and other decorative elements.

Simplify Concrete Work with Southbelt

At Southbelt, our team has the experience and skills to help keep your work on schedule. Contact us today to learn more about our manufacturing and fabrication solutions and equipment rentals to support your concrete work and other jobs.