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the effect of aggregate properties on concrete

Concrete is among the most commonly used materials on earth, and as a result, it is important to understand the impact of aggregate properties on concrete properties. In this blog post, we will explore how aggregate characteristics – such as size and shape – can affect the composition of concrete, leading to improved performance in various applications. We will discuss how laboratory tests help determine these effects and more.

The shape and size of concrete aggregates:

The shape and size of aggregates play an important role in the composition of concrete, with the size and shape of each particle resulting in a unique reaction within the mix. The basic particle size distribution (PSD) determines the texture of the physically dry concrete, which affects its workability.

This means that different shapes and sizes can affect things like strength, durability, and permeability. These effects are most pronounced in fresh rather than hardened concrete. The PSD also helps engineers determine what type of tested aggregate is best for different applications. For example, smaller particles may be used to create stronger concrete or to reduce shrinkage cracks, while larger particles are typically better for applications that require higher abrasion resistance.

Aggregate tests can help experts determine whether a particular material will meet the requirements of specific projects. Various laboratory tests are available to analyze when taking into consideration aggregate size and shape, such as sieve analysis or laser diffraction test. Sieve analysis utilizes mechanical measurements to characterize particles according to their size; while a laser diffraction test produces more detailed results on particle size distribution using light scattering techniques. Both tests provide useful information when selecting an appropriate aggregate for specific projects.

Effect of Grading

The overall grading of the material is also an important factor when it comes to selecting the right type of aggregate. Grading refers to the distribution of particles across a range of sizes and provides insight into how achievable it will be to produce concrete with desired aggregate properties.

A well-graded aggregate will contain particles in several sizes ranging from fine dust to gravel, which improves workability and reduces setting time. On the other hand, a badly graded aggregate may lead to gaps within the mix that cause weak spots or an increased water/cement ratio, resulting in weaker results.

Evidence suggests that an optimum grading curve of particles creates a high degree of interlock between individual grains, leading to enhanced strength and durability. As such, engineers typically use tests such as fines modulus or curve number analysis during the design stage to achieve a more efficient packing between grains and better workability.

Effects of Surface Texture

Once the size and grading of aggregate particles are determined, the surface texture is then taken into consideration. The surface of an aggregate particle can either be smooth or rough, with a rougher surface resulting in more efficient packing between grains due to increased interlock between them. This leads to improved strength and durability in the concrete.

A rougher surface also enhances the bond between the cement paste and the components of the aggregate, allowing for better adhesion and reducing the permeability of water through the mix. This is especially important for applications such as swimming pools, where it’s essential to keep water out. Tests such as absorption, abrasion loss, or impact value can help engineers determine which type of aggregate should be used for achieving better durability and strength in concrete products.

Effect of Coarse Aggregate on Strength of Concrete

Coarse aggregate is typically defined as material greater than 4.75 mm in size. The quality of coarse aggregates used in concrete hugely impacts the strength of the final product. Coarse aggregates are generally composed of gravel, crushed stone, or slag, and when combined with more cement paste, they create a stronger bond than fine aggregates which accounts for most of the strength present in concrete.

It has been found that high-density aggregates typically result in higher compressive strengths. The higher density increases contact between the particles, leading to improved stability, reduced permeability, and lower porosity in concrete. Moreover, since these materials don’t absorb water easily, they can be used in applications where durability and longevity are important – such as driveways or patios.

Effects of absorption & Surface Moisture

The absorption of an aggregate is an important factor to consider when creating a concrete mix. High absorption rates can reduce the strength and durability of the concrete due to increased water content. This could also lead to a greater shrinkage rate and lower workability, making it difficult to place the mix correctly. Therefore, it’s important to select aggregates with low absorption capabilities so that water isn’t added unnecessarily into the mix.

Surface moisture must be taken into account as wetter particles are often sticky and harder to use in a concrete mix. Additionally, higher surface moisture levels can lead to a higher water/cement ratio resulting in weaker concrete. Tests such as sieve analysis or specific gravity are used for assessing the properties of an aggregate before they are utilized in a concrete mixture.


In conclusion, the strength of concrete is highly influenced by the quality and properties of coarse aggregate used in the mix. Factors such as density, absorption, and surface moisture should be tested before selecting aggregates for a particular application. This helps to ensure the optimum performance and durability of the final product.