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Starting any construction project can be daunting, whether you’re an expert who has completed multiple projects before or you’re a complete beginner to this type of thing. There are so many things you need to plan and consider during the process of a construction project, such as the layout of your build, your budget, and what types of materials, tools, and resources you’ll need. One thing that can be confusing when undertaking a construction project, whether it’s the creation of a building extension or an entirely new, standalone structure, is which aggregates to use. To help you with this important decision, we’ve put together this helpful and in-depth guide.

 

Why Use An Aggregate?
The primary reason you’d want to use an aggregate during your construction project is to add integrity to your build, providing increased resilience to the elements and the general wear and tear of everyday life. For example, paving stones and concrete pathways are going to need to be resistant to the scuffing of near-constant footfall so that they last for decades. This reduces your chances of having to redo these pathways in the near future. 

 

Where Can You Source Aggregates?
Looking for aggregates to purchase for your construction project should be a fairly easy task. You can find plenty of resources that can be turned into an aggregate from hardware stores or directly from suppliers. Quarries are a common source of aggregate materials, and you can even pick some up from other building sites, as waste construction materials can be a useful addition to certain aggregates. It ultimately depends on what type of aggregate you wish to create and its purpose.

 

What Can Be Made Using Aggregates?
There are many types of things that can be made using aggregate materials. For example, you can make roads, which you might have to do to attach a new home’s driveway to an existing road using asphalt. You might also want to create pathways around your property using concrete or gravel, and you can even use certain aggregates for gardening projects, too, adding drainage to flower beds. You might also want to use exposed aggregate concrete around your pool, adding a practical, safe, and long-lasting floor to your pool area and one that looks subtle and attractive.

Common Types Of Aggregate
As stated before, there are many different types to choose from when selecting aggregates for your construction project. And the chances are very high that you’ll be using many different ones during this time. You can find a range of aggregates from businesses like Hanson, who offer bulk options for construction aggregates and bagged and landscaping options for certain smaller aspects of your build. Here are some examples of common aggregate types that you may end up using during your construction project. Remember that this list is by no means extensive, as there are many different types to choose from, and some are used for more niche projects than others. 

  • Crushed Stone
    These can be created from a number of different types of rock and can be acquired from quarries and suppliers. It can be used to create the foundations for walkways, roads, and patio areas but is often combined with sand for these purposes. When used alone, this tends to be more useful for adding drainage to flower beds as it will require much less maintenance and care than other types of mulch materials like tree bark. 
  • Gravel
    Easily the most common option of material for aggregate, gravel is a multi-purpose element for your construction projects. It can be used to make concrete, road and pathway foundations, asphalt, and in some cases, is even used to make bricks and even pipework. It is also commonly used as a flux in a blast furnace and liquefies at this high, intense heat. Once the substance cools, it combines and hardens into a mixed stone material that can be used for many different purposes.
  • Sand
    You might suspect that sand is simply just sand. However, there are a few different variations of sand that can significantly alter its usefulness for your project. For example, concrete sand can be used to fill in gaps in pathways or can even be used to create actual concrete when mixed with cement and other materials like crushed stone or gravel. Screened sand can be used to secure and set paving stones and is comprised of a mixture of coarse-grained sand and materials such as gravel. Mason sand is the type that you’d be more familiar with at the beach and can be used for aesthetic purposes and provide a soft surface for certain sports or a children’s play area.
  • Fill
    As mentioned previously, certain waste products from other construction sites can be very useful to your project. This usually comes in the form of soils and silt. These are especially useful if you have large holes that need to be filled in. There is a variation of fill that is free from notable rocks or other items, which is called clean fill, but this can be much more costly. However, it functions as a much more natural soil option which can be a better choice when tackling smaller projects, especially garden landscaping tasks.

 

What To Consider When Choosing An Aggregate
As well as what you’ll be using these materials for and the aesthetics you want for the finished result, there are a couple of important things to think about when choosing an aggregate. The following things will dictate what that aggregate can be effectively used for and even how long that material will last as a result. Remember that, generally, the more a surface will be used, such as busy roads and pathways, the sturdier you’ll want those materials to be.

  • Friction
    Certain materials are going to be much more resilient when faced with excessive friction. When friction is applied to materials, this can cause them to erode faster, causing the surface to become uneven and dangerous. This is especially bad when that aggregate is used for flooring. Paving stones, pathways, and roads need to be highly resistant to friction and heat. Granite and limestone are common choices when high levels of friction are a concern. 
  • Structure
    The actual shape and structure of the materials you choose should also be considered with great scrutiny. If you are looking to create concrete, for example, you’ll want to choose a material with short and rounded particles, reducing the space between the materials in the final mixture. Of course, you can use longer, less rounded aggregate shapes for cement, but you’ll have to add extra sand to fill in the gaps they would otherwise create. However, when combined with sand for those gaps, angular-shaped aggregate can increase the structural integrity by developing strong interlocking bonds, making them a better choice for strong concrete.

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