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I would suggest concrete can either be made decorative or is decorative without post-applied treatment. The appreciation is in the eye of the beholder. I would argue that it is the skill of the designer, user or applicator that makes concrete decorative. Concrete when bound together by hydraulic cement is intrinsically a stone-like material that can be formed into artefacts that resemble stone. It therefore should be considered as such – a man-made stone at one time given the descriptor ‘flowstone’. Portland cement took its namefrom the fact that when hydrated and hardened it resembles Portland stone.

Apart from the ‘dark satanic mills’ commonly built from stone, the use of stone for most statues, buildings and other general applications is readily accepted by the public irrespective of appearance; but concrete is too often condemned as grey and boring without further consideration. Most cannot tell the two surfaces apart when they are laid side by side. There are forms of concrete bound together by binders other than Portland and hydraulic cement, and some of these have been used with great success to produce ‘decorative artefacts’. This my blog includes examples of concrete with binders other than Portland cement since such material has been available for some time and the reader should be made aware of them.

Concrete materials with strengths far greater than could have been conceived only a few years ago have recently been developed. These appear to have extremely durable composition, resist various forms of ingress and allow thin sections to be loaded, and are suitable for structural applications. They are beginning to appear in decorative and innovative applications worldwide. The appearance of decorative concrete can be influenced by five factors: texture, pattern, colour, form and weathering characteristics. The first three can be cast into the concrete or applied afterwards. The last two are a function of the design and usage. This my blog will help the reader to discover those applications that they consider to be decorative and innovative.

It is important to allow the inherent nature of the material to be used to its optimum rather than just for casting copies of other materials. Concrete is a compound, a compacted mass of coarse and fine aggregate cemented together by hydraulic or other mortar. It therefore has to be seen as such and used in that context with knowledge of its properties and requirements. There have been – and continue to be – those who choose to use concrete without sufficient knowledge and thereby miss the opportunity to exploit the potential of this material in decorative and innovative ways. It is hoped this my blog will help to address that shortcoming by providing a better understanding of the capabilities of concrete. Chapter 3 A Brief History of Decorative Concrete Some of the oldest concrete so far discovered can be considered as decorative. Around 5600 BC a form of red lime concrete incorporating a mixture of lime, sand, gravel and water was laid to form floors for huts on the banks of the river Danube at Lepenski Vir in Yugoslavia. The material was evidently brought from 200 miles upstream.

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