‘Materials’ Category

Before and After Concrete Pour

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Pictured here is a before and after pour picture of a steel-reinforced concrete staircase. The picture on the left clearly shows the inner resteel, or rebars, placed on risers in the formwork. The steel in designed to take the tension load in the stair case and also helps to prevent cracking. The bars are placed on risers so they are held in the proper position when pouring. Proper placement within the concrete is crucial to ensure they carry the tensile loads as the designer intended once the concrete has cured. After curing, the wooden forms are removed to be used again on another job. Finally, soil is placed around the structure to support the new steel-reinforced concrete staircase.

Flared Concrete Column

Photo Credit: Karl Jansen

This is a great example of a flared concrete column. As you can see, the top of the circular column which supports the above structure is flared in a square section. This allows for a wider (and less dense) distribution of loads from above being transferred to the column.

Roof Reinforcement Method

Photo Credit: Jessie Benaglio

In Cinque Terre, Italy, five little towns on the north west coast, has rocks laid in a pattern on the roofs. The rocks help hold the shingles on due from the strong winds that come from the Mediterranean Sea and the winds from the mountains.

Rolled Corrugated Pipe

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Seen above is the storage lot of a perforated, corrugated pipe manufacturer in Illinois. For scale purposed the human subject was asked to stand in the photograph. As can be deduced from the scale, the coils of pipe are hundreds of feet long. Pipe like this is used in drainage applications around building foundations, behind retaining walls, and generally anywhere water is present and needs to be directed for proper drainage. Perforated, corrugated pipe is a relatively cheap product, but if not used can result in very expensive water damage.

Course Aggregate Stockpile

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

This may look like a simple pile of gravel, but in reality it is a key ingredient in one of the most widely used building materials in the world; concrete. Concrete is a mixture of cement, water, and aggregate. Aggregate is a mixture of both sand and gravel, or fine and course aggregate respectively. Aggregate composition is very controlled in terms of the size and quantity of sand and gravel particles to be used. This gradation of aggregate particles ensures that a proper force transfer between particles and cement occurs to maintain strength of the overall concrete element in a structure.


Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Seen above is a material handler at a metal scrap metal yard. This material handler is in a special category of handlers that are called magcranes. This is due to the fact that it uses a magnet to lift up the metal. The magnet is the round brown colored disk hanging from the red boom. The operator has the ability to turn the magnet on and off, and thus pick up and drop off ferromagnetic metal loads.

Rivets and Carnegie Steel

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

This is a regular steel member utilizing rivet construction on a bridge built in 1886. The cool trait about this member, however, is the maker’s mark on the middle. If you look closely you can see the name CARNEGIE raised. Carnegie was the owner of a steel company called Carnegie Steel Company that eventually was sold to help form the conglomerate U.S. Steel.

Slate Roof

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Pictured here is a slate roof on a church in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Slate roofs are considered by many to be the foremost type of roof that a building can have. The reason is their extremely long lifetime, typically lasting numerous decades and sometimes even over a century! Many times the failure of a slate roof is actually due to corrosion of the nails that hold the slate pieces in place and not failure of the slate pieces themselves.

Wood I-Members

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

This is a stack of wood I-Joists used to span long distances between supports in a wood frame structure. Wood I-Joists are typically made of solid wood flanges, the two fat outer parts top and bottom, and an OSB (oriented strand board) web, the skinny center part. I-Joists like this are advantages because they carry load more efficiently than a comparable solid wood member, are lighter than a comparable solid wood member, and can be ordered in spans that would be prohibitively expensive to for solid wood members. This job is using wood I-Joists to prop up form work for a large concrete job, and is thus going to make full use of the dozens of I-Joists bundled here.