What Are Aggregates Used For?

Aggregates are a kind of material used primarily for construction and building purposes. They are often made from composites like concrete and asphalt, but the term ‘aggregate’ covers a huge variety of coarse and fine materials. Aggregates are often mixed with others in order to create resilient foundations or to strengthen the properties of another aggregate. 

As there are many different types of aggregates, they are now divided into three categories: lightweight, normal and heavyweight. They range from finely mined sand to crushed stone and are popular for commercial, domestic and industrial use. Aggregates are some of the most mined materials in the world, popular because of their strong and durable properties. 

With over 400 million tonnes of material used by the UK construction industry every year, and with aggregates making up over 50% of that figure, it’s clear to see that aggregates are an extremely popular and important material. Common uses for aggregates include:

  • Being mixed to make concrete
  • Drainage purposes
  • Building materials
  • Residential and commercial driveways
  • Roads (especially common when making asphalt)
  • Railways

Aggregates for construction 

Aggregates are the main materials used in construction, including gravel, crushed stone, sand and recycled concrete to name a few. This broad category covers coarse to medium grained aggregates that are used for building purposes. 

Construction aggregates are mainly used as a mix, working to strengthen the properties of both cement and concrete. Aggregates improve the compact qualities, strength and elasticity of these mixes, making them easier to work with. Concrete is known for its durability, weather resistance and resistance to temperature changes, lasting upwards of 100 years if properly maintained. 

Without the use of aggregates, concrete would lose 60% to 80% of its composition. Concrete isn’t even considered concrete without the inclusion of aggregates like gravel and stone, which make up most of its thermal, strength and elastic properties. Instead, it’s referred to as mortar, used to bind building blocks together by filling the gaps between them and hardening after application. 

Aggregates for residential use

Similar to construction, aggregates are commonly used for the erection of houses, apartments and other residential buildings. They are cheap to acquire, easy to work with, and don’t require a lot of maintenance. Aggregates are also used to protect pipes, a key feature in residential construction, and for decorative purposes. 

Gravel is the main aggregate used to lay driveways and can withstand the weight of both people and cars. Its strength and low maintenance are some of the reasons why gravel is so popular when building a driveway. Decorative or loose gravel is also common in residential areas and can be used to create a pathway, brighten up your garden, or even line the edge of a pond. 

If you’re completing a home construction project, small amounts of aggregates are available to purchase from an aggregate supplier, so you aren’t paying out for bulk items. Get in touch with SCB Oxford Ltd to discuss your project and enquire about the aggregates we offer. Supply your construction site with the necessary materials, regardless of size with SCB.

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