Concrete trivia: 9 fun facts!

Illustration showing a person looking at a stylised diagram that has 9 items in a list.

You never know when a fun fact may come in handy, whether it’s trivia night, impressing your in-laws, or even saving some money on your next plumbing, demolition, or landscaping job.

So, we’ve put together some fun facts to help you expand your knowledge of concrete.

Let’s hope this blog doesn’t soothe you off to sleep like Daddy Pig’s book on concrete!

We hope you enjoy these (mostly) practical and fascinating facts about concrete!


9 fun facts about concrete

1. Concrete is ancient

The Pantheon in Rome.

Ever considered where concrete came from? Archaeology and early recordings suggest that traders in Syria and Jordan used concrete to create housing structures, floors, and water reservoirs.

Now fast-forward to Ancient Egypt in 3000 BC. People began mixing straw and mud to stick dried bricks together, as well as gypsum and lime mortars in the pyramids.

From 600 BC, Ancient Romans began using concrete in most of their constructions – many of which still stand today. In fact, the Pantheon remains the largest unsupported concrete structure ever built.

2. Concrete is super strong

Ever wondered where the saying “have a cup of concrete and harden up” comes from? Just how hard is concrete, really?

Concrete is incredibly strong, with a compression strength between 3,000 and 7,000 psi, reaching up to 20,000 psi. And it gets even stronger over time, reaching 90% of its full strength after curing for around 4 weeks, then continuing to harden for decades through chemical reactions, as it:

  • Absorbs CO2
  • Converts calcium hydroxide into calcium carbonate
  • Reacts with bacteria

3. Concrete is heavy

Two large, grey elephants stand next to each other on the sand.

An average tipper truck can carry roughly 6 cubic metres of recycled concrete aggregates. With an average weight of 1.4 tonnes per cubic metre, a full body truck can haul roughly 8.4 tonnes of concrete aggregate.

🐘🐘 That’s roughly equal to two male African elephants that weigh an average of 4.05 tonnes each!

🐘🐘🐘🐘🐘 Or if you have a Semi Trailer with a 21T capacity, you can carry more than 5 elephants’ worth of recycled concrete!

4. Concrete is the most common construction material

If you combine every tonne of steel, wood, plastics, and aluminium used in construction around the world, you still wouldn’t exceed the total weight of concrete used. In fact, twice as much concrete (in tonnes) is used, making it the second most popular substance used worldwide (after water).

5. Tall buildings contain a lot of concrete

Grayscale photo shows a number of tall buildings, including Trump International Hotel and Tower.

At the time it was built, The Empire State building was the tallest structure in the world, containing 47, 500m3 of concrete.

Currently, the Trump International Hotel and Tower holds the title of the tallest concrete structure, at 423m high. To create the building’s below-ground foundations, concreters worked nonstop for nearly 24 hours on the “big pour”, trucking in 3,800m3 of concrete over 600 trips.

6. Wivenhoe Dam contains 140,000 m3 concrete

By the time Brisbane’s Wivenhoe Dam was completed in 1984, workers had used around 140,000 m3 in the spillway section. All up, giving the 7020 km2 dam a full supply capacity of 1,165,238 megalitres and flood mitigation of 1,967,000 megalitres.

7. Queen’s Wharf Brisbane uses off-site concrete construction

Brisbane River on a sunny day as a CityCat drives past

Onsite construction for Queen’s Wharf Brisbane started in March 2020, but prior to that, construction began offsite from mid-2019. This included prefabricated concrete deck modules for the Neville Bonner Bridge that were transported along the Brisbane River using a barge. This offsite construction measure helped to minimise the impact on local businesses and road networks.

Since the start of the project, workers have already installed more than 59,000 m3 of concrete. Just to create the concrete pad for the Tower 3 footings, 58+ trucks poured 400m3 of concrete over an 8-hour period.

8. Recycled concrete has unique properties

While recycled concrete aggregates are often an ideal substitute for quarry aggregates, they’re not exactly the same. In fact, recycled product has been shown to have higher absorption rates.

Another big difference is that concrete is lighter than quarry stone. If you’re planning to swap your quarry stone product for recycled concrete aggregates, this will help you save money! Because the same volume of concrete aggregate is roughly 15-30% lighter than quarry stone, you can pay even less for your truckload – and accomplish the same outcome.

9. Concrete recycling saves money and the environment

Truck tipping concrete waste onto a pile of rubble in the Moreton Bay Recycling yard.

Recycled concrete aggregates are cheaper per tonne than virgin quarry product. But it can also be cheaper to recycle your concrete at a facility like ours, rather than taking it to landfill, due to lower dumping fees. And of course, ensuring your concrete waste is recycled and reused has a positive impact on the environment, too!

Want to learn more? Check out our previous blog on recycled concrete facts and statistics.

More where that came from…

Did you know that Moreton Bay Recycling is just a short 5-minute trip off the Bruce Highway at Narangba in Brisbane’s north? If not, it’s time you popped in for a visit! We’d love to show you around.

Or feel free to give us a call on (07) 3293 4949 if you have any questions about dropping your concrete waste with us or using our recycled products in your next job. Bonus points if you share your own fun facts with us!

Time for one last fun fact: Did you know that the Latin origin of the word concrete is ‘concretus’? This word means ‘to grow together’, and it perfectly sums up our relationship with our customers!

I hope to see you soon,

– Hilary Dold, General Manager

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