Reinforcing building materials isn’t a new concept. Ancient builders inserted horsehair, mortar, and straw in mudbricks. Today’s builders use glass, synthetic, and steel fibers in concrete to add strength and durability. Let’s take a look at the benefits you get when steel fibers are used in concrete.
What is Steel Fiber Reinforced Concrete?
Steel reinforced concrete uses short fibers to improve the ductility and toughness of concrete and, as a result, increases the tension and bending strength. The types of steel fibers used in concrete can vary in size, from microfibers that help minimize cracking to longer macro fibers that increase ductility and strength.
The type of fibers and their dosage in the concrete often determine the material’s best uses, whether for commercial or residential applications.
Concrete reinforced with microfibers could be used for sidewalks, driveways, street curbs, and garage and basement flooring. The microfibers are typically comprised of synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, acrylic, polyethylene, or polypropylene. It prevents cracking caused by plastic contraction when the concrete lacks strength; it occurs in the first hours after placing concrete.
Concrete with synthetic macro fibers is primarily used in commercial and industrial applications like commercial flooring, manholes, and septic tanks.
Steel fibers in concrete are also used to construct playgrounds, airport runways, access roads, and commercial and industrial warehouses.
The advantages of using steel-reinforced concrete have only increased since ancient builders began adding horsehair to their mudbricks. The fibers improve the slab’s durability and help prevent cracking, but these aren’t the only advantages to using reinforced concrete for your next project.
Using steel fibers means you have a thinner concrete slab. It can reduce construction costs while ensuring the slab fits the project dimensions. You don’t have to worry about adjusting project measurements to accommodate a thick concrete slab.
One of the most significant advantages of steel fibers used in concrete is cost. The increased durability means reduced maintenance costs. In addition, using steel fibers allows for easier joint positioning, which may result in fewer joints, overall reducing material and construction costs.
When steel fibers are used in concrete, you get a durable surface that is resistant to cracks from impacts. As a result, you also experience fewer problems with bleed holes that can weaken structural integrity.
Working with Steel Fibers in Concrete: Best Practices
Whether you are using steel-reinforced concrete to build a concrete slab, construct a tunnel, or create access roads, there are a few best practices you want to follow. Otherwise, your concrete may develop cracks and other structural issues.
Steel fibers used in concrete can be stiff after combining, but you can still get the mixture to flow into the forms with a bit of help. The thicker mixture requires vibrations to flow smoothly. When it is necessary to help the steel fiber-concrete mixture have a better handle/work (increasing slump), superplasticizer admixtures must be used. According to the use, the slump is different. For example, in slabs on the ground is common to use 4 to 5 in.
Give the mixture a few extra minutes to set. Steel fibers make it a little more difficult for the excess water to drain from the wet concrete. Adding a curing compound is also recommended to ensure the concrete stays hydrated. In addition, it will help prevent cracking.
Let DWR Help with Your Concrete Reinforcement Needs
Reinforcing concrete with steel makes sense, regardless of your project or application. No one wants to deal with cracking, breakage, or holes that provide an uneven surface.
When you are ready to start your next construction project, reach out to the team at DWR Reinforcing and Steel Solutions. We have the products and solutions you need. Contact us today for more information.