Concrete is a composite material composed of fine and coarse aggregate bonded together with a fluid cement (cement paste) that hardens (cures) over time. In the past lime based cement binders were often used, such as lime putty, but sometimes with other hydraulic cements, such as a calcium aluminate cement or with portaland cement to form portaland cement concrete. Many other non-cementitious types of concrete exist with other methods of binding aggregate together, including ashphalt concrete with a bitumen binder, which is frequently used for road surfaces, and polymer concrete that use polymers as a binder.
When aggregate is mixed with dry Portland cement and water, the mixture forms a fluid slurry that is easily poured and molded into shape. The cement reacts with the water and other ingredients to form a hard matrix that binds the materials together into a durable stone-like material that has many uses Often, additives (such as pozzolans or superplasticizers) are included in the mixture to improve the physical properties of the wet mix or the finished material. Most concrete is poured with reinforcing materials embedded to provide tensile strength, yielding reinforcement concrete.
Because concrete cures (which is not the same as drying) how concrete is handled after it is poured is just as important as before. Concrete is one of the most frequently used building materials. Its usage worldwide, ton for ton, is twice that of steel, wood, plastics, and aluminum combined. Globally, the ready-mix concrete industry, the largest segment of the concrete market.