Aggregate use in concrete and their importance? | AMS News

What aggregates are used in concrete and why are they important?

Everyone knows the importance of concrete in the UK’s infrastructure; without it we wouldn’t have the concrete pavements, roads, airport runways and bridges that we all know. We also wouldn’t have the construction industry that we have today, as concrete’s properties have made it an irreplaceable material in both commercial and domestic construction.

So why is concrete so great to use and what gives it its properties? The answer is found in the ingredients used to produce the concrete.

What are the ingredients of concrete?

While the words concrete and cement are used interchangeably, they are actually different materials. In fact, cement is used in the production of concrete.

Cement is mixed with water and several aggregates to make concrete. The water and cement is combined to make a paste; aggregates, such as sand, gravel or crushed stone are then added. As the cement and water harden, they bind the aggregates into a mass.

What aggregates does AMS use in our Bournemouth ready mixed concrete?

Here at AMS we use a combination of primary aggregates from local quarries, and our own recycled aggregates, giving us a more sustainable option whilst still being able to produce the entire range of concrete strengths and mix designs.

Why are aggregates so important in a concrete mixture?

The proportioning and mixing of ingredients is the key to making a strong and durable concrete.

If you have too little cement and water paste between the aggregates, the concrete will be difficult to place, and will have a rough, honeycombed texture to it.

Meanwhile, if you have too much of the cement and water paste in the mixture, while it will be easy to place and have a nice smooth finish, it will be more likely to crack.

It goes without saying then, that the perfect concrete mixture will have enough paste to be easy to place, but a small enough amount that the concrete sets with the strength and durability needed with little risk of cracking.

A lot of thought will go into the type of aggregate being used to produce the concrete. It will depend on the thickness and purpose of the concrete product.

Aggregates are divided into 2 categories; “fine” or “coarse”. Coarse aggregates are aggregates that are bigger than 4.75mm; usually coarse aggregates will be from 9.5mm right up to 37.5mm in diameter. Fine aggregates normally refers to sand or crushed stone that are less than 9.55mm in diameter.

If you are using concrete in a relatively thin building section, then the concrete would be made up of finer aggregates. However, aggregates of up to 6 inches (150mm) in diameter can be used for larger uses of concrete.

The perfect concrete mixture will use a range of particle sizes, as this will mix the best with the water and cement paste.

Aggregates should also be clean because absorbed chemicals or coatings of clay on the aggregates could impact the quality of the concrete. Our recycled aggregates are cleaned as part of our recycling process, so you can be sure that our concrete uses the highest quality aggregates.

The aggregates are an integral part of a concrete mixture, making up between 60 and 80% of the mixture, because they are what give the material its strength and durability.

So what is the Cement part?

While aggregates are important in the composition of a concrete mixture, the cement that is used also affects the quality of the concrete.

The most widely used cement is called Ordinary Portland Cement. This is made up of several primary materials such as limestone, sand or clay, bauxite, and iron ore. It can also include other materials such as shells, chalk, marl, shale, slag, and slate.

These components are mixed and heated together to form a rock-hard substance that is then crushed to form a powder. The powder is what is used in the production of concrete.

Here at AMS we use only the highest quality 52.5N Portland Cement.

More about AMS Concrete

AMS provide BSI accredited, ready mixed concrete around Bournemouth and the surrounding area to individuals, tradespeople and contractors.

At our inert facility near Wimborne, we have a batching plant that can produce up to 60 cubic metres of concrete in one hour. You can either come and collect your required concrete from our plant directly, or we can deliver as much concrete as you need using our 4 drum mixers.

Alternatively, we have a fleet of volumetric trucks, which allows us to be able to mix the exact amount of concrete you need at your site.

All of our concrete services are able to mix a range of concrete designs to match the purpose of the concrete. If you would like to know more about the concrete designs that we are able to produce, have a read of our article.

Learn more about our concrete services by giving our friendly team a call on 01202 579579, or email us at

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We've acquiredCommercial Recycling

We're pleased to announce the acquisition of the operations of Commercial Recycling (Southern) Ltd. This merger will enhance our service offerings and strengthen our position as leaders in the supply of aggregates, concrete, and waste management in Dorset.


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