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CONCRETE FOR BEGINNERS: REINFORCEMENT

Are you thinking of entering the PPC Imaginarium? In this edition of Concrete for Beginners, find out all you need to know about the ins and outs of reinforcement and ensure that your submission is structurally sound.

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Love art and want to enter the PPC Imaginarium Awards, but you’re not sure where to begin? We’ve created Concrete for Beginners, a blog series filled with bite-sized advice about the basics of working with cement and cement-related products. Follow our updates and you’ll be able to start expressing your creativity with concrete in no time.

Reinforcement

When using concrete in construction, steel rebar is commonly used to ensure the ultimate tensile strength of the structure.

Because smaller projects need a lower tensile strength, rebar isn’t an appropriate medium to use. If you are thinking of making a sculpture or any other type of small three-dimensional object, reinforcement options you should consider are: • Thin steel rods, • Wire, or • Mesh.

A Step-by-Step Mesh Project:

  1. When creating a three dimensional structure using cement, begin by building the basic form of the structure. You can do this by carving up a piece of expanded polystyrene, foamboard or Styrofoam. Alternatively, you can build the basic form up from pieces of taped together cardboard or corrugated plastic.

  2. Next, wrap the basic form in a steel mesh – chicken wire, hardware cloth or expanded mesh – and tie it in place with binding wire.

  3. Once the mesh is firmly attached, apply the concrete by hand in successive layers, 0.5cm to 1cm in thickness. To ensure adhesion between layers, mark the surface of each layer with a ‘tooth’ finish before applying the next coat.

  4. An important tip is not to cover the entire structure in concrete in one go. Rather do one side, let it set for 12-24 hours, cover it in plastic to prevent water loss and cracking, and then flip it over and begin on the other side.

  5. Once the final structure has dried, use sandpaper, emery paper or corundum paper to file the structure to a desired finish.

  6. Keep the piece slightly damp for a week before the final finish and sealing.

Download our handy step-by-step guide.

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Are you ready to give working with concrete a go? Enter the PPC Imagniarium today and share your creation with us.

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