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The Important Role of Aggregate in Construction


Every construction project begins with a foundation. Whether you’re constructing a parking lot, driveway or sidewalk, the foundation of the infrastructure requires high-quality aggregate. Aggregates are a raw material used extensively in the construction of streets, concrete, tiles, bridges, and beyond. When you walk around the streets of your city or town, look at the roads and you’ll see the aggregates that connect the paths leading from the street to the sidewalk and then to the buildings.

The importance of this material doesn’t receive enough recognition when it comes to construction projects. Yet, it is a major driver in the local economy as it’s always in demand. To understand the significant role of aggregate in construction, we need to first explore how and why the material is a factor in large volumes of concrete, which create the infrastructure of new streets and roads.

The Features of Aggregate — Size, Shape, and Gradation

In cement, aggregate occupies the majority of volume in concrete. When you mix in aggregates, it is what pastes together the cement. It is also what changes the look and feel of the surface. The aesthetic of aggregates affects the concretes’ countertop. Moreover, the size and gradation of aggregate are important. Size can range from small fine sand to large fist-sized rocks. Generally, aggregates are blended with finer aggregates to fill in the empty spaces, which locks in the pieces. The shape of aggregate also influences its impact on concrete when it comes to workability. Angular particles are tighter and have a greater friction compared to rounded particles, which can reduce workability. Additionally, angular particles require more cement paste to coat. As far as gradation goes, coarse aggregates are roughly ten times larger than fine aggregates. There are generally three types of aggregate gradations:


  • Gap Graded. This type of aggregate has coarse aggregate particles that are similar in size but vary in size from the fine aggregate. It pieces together the large aggregate and the fine aggregate.


  • Poorly Graded. Poorly graded aggregate consists of variations in size, which packs together the particles and leaves large spaces in concrete.



  • Well-Graded. Well-graded aggregate has even spans of sizes, ranging from fine to coarse. These aggregates can be complex when it comes to proportion. Especially since the goal is always to maximize volume while preserving the aesthetic, workability, and strength.

The Volume of Aggregate in Construction

With many expansions in roads and streets, the need for aggregate has increased. In the last 20 years, the consumption of aggregates has dramatically increased. Today it requires an estimated 38,000 tons of aggregates to create a mile of a lane for an interstate highway. When it comes to the construction of homes, a home today requires roughly 400 tons of aggregate. Moreover, a hospital or school of a decent size would require approximately 15,000 tons of aggregates.

The Bottomline: Why Does Aggregate Matter?

Now that we’ve explored aggregates unique features and its use in construction, you may be wondering but why does this all matter? In order to maintain a healthy standard of construction, which matters to our infrastructure, we must appreciate the mineral resources that are available to us. These resources will certainly be needed for future generations. As the need for aggregate grows, companies like Constructors continue to do their part in being a resourceful and responsible provider of services for major construction projects such as paving roads for new retail centers, school, and churches. Constructors will help ensure your project is safe and built to last. Connect with us today to learn more.

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