I can bet that the building material of your house has cement as the basic ingredient. You can’t avoid it unless it’s a tree house made out of wood – only wood. In other constructions, you can’t avoid this important material that keeps buildings in shape for a long, long time.
Cement is the most popular commercial and residential building material across the globe. Because of its versatility, it is a great option to use for almost any construction. It is a cost-effective building material and requires low maintenance.
Like every material, cement also has a lifespan. In this post we’re going to answer an important question: how long does cement last?
So, let’s get started.
What is Cement
The word cement is a latin word ‘Caementum’ which means rough-cut stone; it is made from a mixture of elements like limestone, clay, sand, or shale.
It is a soft, fine gray powder-type substance from which you can make mortar or concrete by mixing it with water and other substances. It binds or holds the concrete mix together, giving it strength.
You can also find white cement in the market, which is usually more expensive than gray. Cement is a part of the concrete, not the final product, and it is used in large projects like the domestic and industrial sector, from constructing your home roof, floor, walls, car parking, hospital, school, and even dams.
As we already discussed, it is a multipurpose material to use in different areas. For example, If you want to form concrete, you can mix the cement with water, sand, and gravel. For cement plaster, you can mix it with water and sand. And to form mortar, you can mix it with water, lime and sand, and so on.
Cement is an absorbent construction material and reacts quickly with wetness instead of liquid or vapor form. If cement comes in contact with water, it undergoes a chemical process termed hydration. Once the hydration process takes place, cement becomes useless.
The cement will remain in shape until it encounters wetness. It means moisture is the big enemy of cement. When it combines with concrete, it is more stronger to use for construction purposes.
Purpose of Cement
- It is widely used in the construction of tunnels, bridges, viaducts, and highways.
- It is used for concrete roads.
- Cement is used in underground construction, sewerage, and network systems.
- Large projects like dams, ponds, drainage channels also used cement.
- In the construction of residences, hospitals, hotels, and commercial centers.
Storing Cement for a Long Period
Time of storage is a crucial factor that may affect the strength of cement. Cement strength may reduce with time if kept for a longer tenure. Experts always recommend that you can not store cement for more than six months.
The strength of cement needs to test before using it if stored for more than six months. The following will help you understand the percentage reduction of cement strength for different time periods.
- If the cement is fresh, there won’t be any reduction in strength
- Cement stored for 3 months loses 20% strength
- If it is stored for up to 6 months, it’s strength will reduced by 30%
- A bag of cement stored for a year will lose 40% of its strength
- If the cement is stored for up to 5 years, it’ll be half as good, with only 50% strength.
If you fail to store the cement properly, it will absorb the moisture from the air or other supply, causing a chemical reaction. The strength of the cement depends upon the capabilities of chemical processes. Nonetheless, any major or minor reaction affects the stability of cement.
Protection of Cement for Longer Life
If you want to increase the life of cement and maintain its quality, you need to follow the below steps.
- Climate moisture condition
- Organizing of cement bags
- Place of store
The quality of cement depends on the absorption of moisture from the climate. Atmospheric moisture or climate can spoil it. The presence of water in the air will decrease the cement’s strength, and it becomes useless with time.
Therefore, you need a place where moisture could not easily access your cement. Also, use an airtight bag to pack your cement.
If the cement is fine and good in quality, then use it in the first stage because it requires extra care to prevent moisture.
Organizing of Cement Bags
Suppose you are planning to store cement bags in a godown or a warehouse. It should be designed and made in wooden material. If you want to keep cement bags for a more extended period, the wooden storeroom is ideal for moisture-control.
The wooden platform must be 150 mm to 200 mm from the ground. You can arrange and place cement bags one above the other, which form a stack of cement bags. Each stack should not contain more than ten bags.
Shade walls should not touch the cement stacks and hold a minimum 300 mm distance. If you are looking for long-term protection, then cover the stacks with a waterproof layer and provide passage 900 mm to 1000 mm between each stack of cement.
Make sure to stack the same quality / type of cement with a proper date.
Where to Store Cement
Special places like godown or warehouses are good options for cement storage. Do not use open areas as it will damage the cement strength. The warehouse or godown design should be well structured. The key purpose is to save the cement from natural factors.
If you keep your cement in store for an extended period without proper care, you will find dampish air gain access there; it will decrease the cement strength and make it seem coarser.
In the end, exposure of cement to the surrounding atmosphere may cause absorption of moisture, and irreversible reactions take place. Consequently, its life will reduce as it keeps losing its effectiveness with time. Usually, the shelf life of cement is not more than six months.
I’ve already mentioned water as the damage-causing agent. Two most common things people don’t consider are moisture and storing in a proper place, and end up wasting massive amounts of cement.
Therefore, organizing cement bags, time, collection, placing of cement, and planning godown are essential steps to increase life and maintain the cement’s durability.