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INTERMEDIATE CONCRETE: LIGHTWEIGHT MIXES

Concrete is a dense material. And while that’s part of the allure for some artists, sometimes your project may require something that’s a little lighter or easier to manipulate. We take a look at how to use aggregates to create more lightweight concrete mixes.

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Familiar with all the concrete basics and want to start getting more daring and creative with the medium? Intermediate Concrete is a blog series that shows you how. Learn how to do something a little different with your PPC Imaginarium Awards entry.

A fundamental attraction of concrete as an artistic medium is its surprising versatility. Different mixes and methods provide concrete with quite varied characteristics.

One common such mix is lightweight concrete. Lightweight concrete allows you to retain the fundamental strength and aesthetic of concrete, but with the added advantage of less weight, plus the ability to manipulate it via carving, sawing, drilling or nailing.

Creating lightweight concrete is as straightforward as adding appropriate aggregates to your mix. We’re going to look at how to make some common mixes. Remember though, each differs to some degree in look, texture and application, so it’s best to try each out and see which will work best for your particular creative requirements.

Perlite

Perlite concrete (used in construction for insulation) can be made with a mix of:

• 1 part Portland cement

• 6 parts perlite

• water

Perlite concrete is quite popular among artists due to its appearance.

Vermiculite

Vermiculite concrete (used in construction for insulation and fireproofing) can be made with a mix of:

• 1 part Portland cement

• 6 parts vermiculite

• water

Styrofoam Beads

If you want to try something a bit different (visually and functionally), you can also create a basic lightweight concrete by adding Styrofoam beads into your mix.

While the effect is interesting, achieving the ideal mix with Styrofoam beads can be tough. We suggest coating the beads with polyvinyl propionate to help them stick. Also note that you will need to monitor the consistency of the mix closely, as beads will tend to concentrate near the surface.

Feel inspired to try something different with concrete? Go ahead. Enter this year’s PPC Imaginarium Awards now. Entries close 31 August.

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