Architectural concrete – what is the best?
SMOOTH ARCHITECTURAL CONCRETE
Smooth architectural concrete elements are used less frequently than those with a porous structure. However, they most often appear on elevations and other structural elements. They are covered with architectural formwork concrete. It is created directly on the construction site, where the formwork is attached to the structural element and the concrete excavated material is poured into it.
Prefabricated panels – architectural concrete slabs – are also common. Smooth panels are most often used on floors and where visible pores called crampons are not always considered desirable. Among other things, for reasons of cleanliness, or the desire to achieve an aesthetically pleasing experience that is not too intense. On architectural concrete with a smooth structure, natural imperfections in the form of various types of discolourations are often more visible. If pores are present, they are scattered and practically invisible on such a surface.
MEDIUM POROUS ARCHITECTURAL CONCRETE
Architectural concrete of medium porosity has on its visible surface up to 30% of visible crawfish and pores, which in a characteristic and irregular way cover its face.
It is the most common and selected architectural concrete. Adequate, but not too many pores give the desired aesthetic features. Where architectural concrete is to be an important but non-dominant decorative accent. The final result is quite neutral. Such architectural concrete will work well in almost every arrangement, without imposing a specific style.
Delicate pores perfectly match and dulcify natural shadows occurring in real decorative concrete. Medium-porous architectural concrete with high technical parameters perfectly meets the requirements of frost resistance. It is used outdoors without fear, just like smooth concrete. At Luxum, decorative (architectural) concrete is produced in decorative slabs under the name Creative Concrete in a Premium structure. It is classified as a high-strength universal cladding for interior and exterior use. Even in difficult rooms, such as corridors, bathrooms, kitchens, SPA areas, swimming pools, conservatories, etc., it can be used in a variety of ways.
HIGHLY POROUS ARCHITECTURAL CONCRETE
Highly porous architectural concrete is covered with up to 90% of various pores, crampons and inclusions. They have different sizes and irregular shapes and depths.
Decorative concrete – highly porous, is produced under the name Creative Concrete with Industrial structure.
It is perfect both for interiors and facades. Unlike Creative Concrete in its smooth and Premium structure, it is best suited for facades in sheltered areas that are not directly exposed to rainwater.
In interiors, due to its higher absorbability and deep porosity, it is rather rarely used in bathrooms, kitchens and floors. Unless it is treated with clear resin, like travertine, where all pores are flooded and form a smooth surface. A large number of pores disperse light, shadows and discolourations are almost invisible. In a bedroom, study, corridor, fireplace or living room, porous concrete from Creative Concrete Industrial will prove to be an invaluable choice, creating a truly post-industrial atmosphere.
COLOURS AND AESTHETICS OF ARCHITECTURAL CONCRETE
Next, it is as important as the porosity of the decorative concrete face structure to define the aesthetic effect we want to achieve. It is worth remembering that grey is perceived as a natural colouring of concrete. However, this defines the habit of seeing uncovered structural concrete, which is almost always made of grey cement.
The best architectural concrete is made from white cement and its colour is the result of the appropriate colouring in the mass. Some of the unusual colours of architectural concrete are produced by surface etching. In this way, interesting colours and shades of concrete are created, e.g. in the style of “rusty” Corten steel, old red brick, gold or green shades. This diversifies the choice and possibilities of designing interesting interior arrangements or elevations with the use of this durable material.
In order to achieve uniformity of colours, after the installation of architectural concrete, an appropriate impregnating agent or an impregnating agent deepening the colour, such as “wet stone”, is used.
Good quality architectural concrete should not be painted. Painting indicates low quality of concrete or the need to hide installation errors. Architectural concrete imitations are often painted. However, here we deal only with real architectural concrete, and all imitations are “forgiven”. Their aesthetics is defended only on photographs or video materials of various manufacturers or contractors of such specifics. Live, natural concrete clearly differs from imitations of plaster, various types of plaster, structural paints or conglomerates.
Pure architectural concrete is therefore not painted. Real concrete is only coloured in mass or pickled with special acids that react with the lime contained in the concrete. This results in a permanent, deep, natural-looking and UV-resistant colour.
Architectural concrete aesthetics
A characteristic feature of architectural concrete is its unique aesthetics. There are no Polish legal norms in which the issue of the appearance of the architectural concrete surface could be included. Admittedly, it is already available, but unfortunately the scientific bibliography on the properties and aesthetics of architectural concrete is still rather poor. It comes from slightly outdated German norms. The norms given by them are not up-to-date and do not refer to the real expectations of contemporary investors. They sort out the issue of evaluation a little if the architectural concrete was not determined in any way before it was made. These guidelines are published on www.inzynierbudownictwa.pl It should be noted that they only refer to architectural formwork concrete, which is produced directly at the installation site, on the construction site.
Therefore, each of the important manufacturers of architectural concrete (also known as decorative, structural, façade, artistic and face concrete) sets their own standards. At the same time, the company takes care of the appropriate architectural and artistic message.
Architectural concrete can be distinguished in the groups described above – Creative Concrete Premium, smooth and medium porous, and Creative Concrete Industrial, strongly porous. Luxum brand delivers architectural concrete in a dozen or so colors. From white, through shades of grey, to graphite and black. The standard is also often chosen concrete in the color of rust COR-TEN.
Decorative concrete Luxum is selected in terms of aesthetics, due to the colour of individual concrete elements, surface cracking, shadows and inclusions. Additionally, orders are realized only from concrete elements created in one series, so that the final decorative effect is the best.
Architectural concrete is aesthetics shaped by nature, but controlled by man.
Therefore, Luxum has developed the standardization of architectural concrete, where the remains of adhesive agents, various types of clear spots, damage, upholstery, wetting, buckling and warping, dirt – are not accepted. Concrete must be natural, but this does not mean freedom resulting from the use of bad technologies, unproven recipes, low quality ingredients, lack of adequate facilities for maturing and storing, dusting the environment during the pouring and maturing of concrete.
At Luxum, architectural concrete undergoes a multi-stage quality control and has excellent conditions both at the production and maturation stages.