Concrete

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Concrete mixer in France.

Concrete is a composite material composed of fine and coarse aggregate bonded together with a fluid cement (cement paste) that hardens (cures) over time. Concrete is the second-most-used substance in the world after water, and is the most widely used building material. When aggregate is mixed with dry Portland cement and water, the mixture forms a fluid slurry that is easily poured and molded into shape. The cement reacts with the water through a process called concrete hydration that hardens over several hours to form a hard matrix that binds the materials together into a durable stone-like material that has many uses. This time allows concrete to not only be cast in forms but also to have a variety of tooled processes preformed.

Concrete is distinct from mortar. Whereas concrete is itself a building material, mortar is a bonding agent that typically holds bricks, tiles and other masonry units together.

Once allowed to cure, concrete is capable of resisting extremely large loads in compression. However, concrete is much weaker in tensile strength than compressive strength. It is for this reason that it is often reinforced with high tensile strength materials, most commonly in the form of steel rebar, but notably also in the forms of fiberglass.

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