As we intend to build our homes, a lot of question pops in our minds regarding the materials used for construction (especially Cement). As cement is one of the most important building material that gives longevity to the construction, any misguidance or influence can cost us huge or affect the construction quality itself.
So, we try to address some of the questions that pops out in your mind about cement when you think about house construction. Some of those questions are:
- Which type of cement to opt?
- Can same type be used for all cement applications?
- Which cement brand to go for?
- Availability of cement selected throughout construction period?
We attempt to answer the above questions one by one to empower you to choose the right brand of cement and enjoy your home construction.
1. Which Type of Cement to Opt?
There are various categories of cement used in building works for various purposes. Thus, it is important to understand properties of each type of cement and their uses. There are commonly three types of cement used in general construction purposes i.e. Ordinary Portland Cement (43 Grade & 53 Grade), Portland Pozzolana Cement and Portland Slag Cement.
Uses and applications
OPC 53 Grade cement is recommended in all RCC structures like footing, column, beam and slabs, where ever initial and ultimate strength is the major structural requirement.
PPC and PSC cements are useful for general construction works and strongly recommended for Masonry, Plaster, Tiling works as initial strength not being a prime factor of performance in this application.
2. Can Same Type of Cement Be used for All Applications?
No, Same Type of Cement should not be used. Different types of cements have to be used in construction.
Different types of Cement have different properties which can be best exploited to both save you money and improve the quality of construction.
As discussed earlier, the recommended type of cement for all RCC works is OPC 53 Grade as they have high initial and ultimate strength, which is a major prerequisite for structural requirement (i.e., in RCC Members).
For non-structural/masonry applications like Masonry, Plaster, Tiling works etc., Use PPC or PSC, whichever is economical. These cements have slower rate of heat of hydration (thereby prone to less cracks & reduced shrinkage), have better workability and can be finished better (due to presence of flyash in PPC & GGBFS in PSC).
3. Which Brand of Cement to Go for?
The most important thing in selecting a brand is its price. Go for a cement brand which offers the required grade (like OPC 53, PPC etc.,) and at the best price in your locality.
The Indian cement industry is dominated by a few companies. The top 20 cement companies account for almost 70% of the total cement production of the country. A total of 188 large cement plants together account for 97 per cent of the total installed capacity in the country, with 365 small plants account for the rest. Of these large cement plants, 77 are located in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
In 2016, the Competition Commission of India asked 11 cement companies and their lobby group Cement Manufacturers Association (CMA) to pay a fine of Rs 6,714 crore for alleged cartelization. It also held the lobby group of these manufacturers guilty of facilitating price collusion; similar fine was also imposed in 2012 too.
The huge number of good brands available in the market often confuse customers on which brand to use. Some brands like Ultratech, ACC, Ambuja and Jaypee Associates have multiple manufacturing units and are popular in many states thus commanding a premium.
Probability of a good cement brand performance is high. But the question is at how much premium can they charge for it?
Various other cement brands (Chettinad, bharthi, Vasavdatta, MahaCement, Penna, Dalmia etc.) are available in the markets and majority of this local/regional cement brands are also produced at most modern plants and are of equally good quality.
So, Local/regional brands will find hard to cartel/collude. Thus their price for equivalent quality would be competitive. The availability of cement should be of a less concern (being local the supply chain would be shorter).
Understanding cement as a construction material and availability of local/regional brands can save considerable construction cost.
4. Availability of Cement Selected through out the construction period
Availability of a selected cement throughout the construction period shouldn’t be a factor for going with a specific brand. It should be the least of your concerns while planning for house construction.
Home construction is done at stages
- RCC – Footing, Plinth, Columns, Beam & Slab (generally requires 180 – 200 bags for 1000 sq.ft- OPC)
- Brick Masonry
*(Activities 2, 3 & 4 together requires 200 – 220 bags for 1000 sq.ft. house construction – PPC)
The construction stages are usually spread over a period of 6 months. The total cement required for a House construction of 1000 sqft would be roughly around 400 bags.
As Cement has limited shelf life and looses strength over time, cement should be best consumed within a month or at most within two months of its production. The rate at which cement loses its strength depends on the storage conditions.
Due to the above limiting factors, Cement for house construction should be brought in lots of 100 bags.
As different stages of construction requires different types of cement, Understanding the types of cement, its substitutes and availability of local brands should empower you to choose the right cement required for your work thus avoiding any concerns on the availability of cement.
All these set of recommendations shall serve as a guidelines to select the “Right Cement” for various applications in a house construction empowering you to save money and obtain better quality construction while neutralizing the premiums big cement brands command.