Concrete is so expensive because its production is energy-intensive and polluting.
It takes a lot of energy to make concrete (about 1.5 tons of CO 2 per ton), it produces a lot of waste, and it often requires the use of high heat-generating ingredients.
These issues can be partially resolved by using alternative ingredients that are less energy-intensive and environmentally harmful. In this article,
I will discuss some of the reasons why concrete is so expensive and what factors can affect those costs.
8 Reasons Why Concrete Is So Expensive
1. The Price of Water.
Water is probably the main ingredient in concrete, accounting for around ten percent of its volume.
This does not account for the water used in construction-related activities such as moving aggregate materials.
Concrete plants need to have a supply of clean, potable water on site that they can use to mix concrete.
Unfortunately, obtaining an adequate supply of clean water can be prohibitively expensive.
For example, in some places, there is a severe water shortage, and those places will only grant water delivery rights to concrete plants if they can ensure that they will never exceed their rationed allotment.
This means committing to an expensive infrastructure investment.
2. The Price of Aggregate Materials
This includes both sand and gravel. These materials are rocks that have been crushed into pieces small enough to make concrete.
These materials account for three-quarters of the cost of making cement, so they are an important consideration.
Aggregate prices vary greatly depending on where you live and supply and demand conditions in your area.
In some regions, there is a lot of excess aggregate production capacity, while in other areas, aggregate suppliers are struggling to keep up with demand.
3. Energy Costs
Concrete has a lot of different ingredients, all of which need to be mixed at very high speeds and carefully controlled temperatures.
This requires a significant amount of energy which can lead to higher concrete prices depending on where your concrete plant is located.
For example, in areas with a lot of coal-fired power plants, the cost of electricity is relatively low.
In contrast, in other areas, a lot of electrical power comes from hydroelectric sources, which can be much more expensive.
4. The Price of Labor.
The amount of labor that goes into the work is another factor that contributes to concrete’s overall price tag.
Mixing up batches of concrete requires a lot of physical exertion, and depending on where you live, the wages required to pay employees can vary quite a bit.
If you consider building a DIY project, be aware that there are several types of concrete finishing techniques. You’ll need to know which kind is best for your project before taking on the job yourself.
Additionally, if using professional labor isn’t an option for you, be aware that using substandard methods can lead to long-term issues with your project.
5. Type of Concrete.
It’s important to choose the type of concrete that works best for your project. If you are building something higher than ground level where saltwater is a problem, consider using a product called Salt-Tolerant Concrete.
Salt-Tolerant concrete is more expensive than regular concrete, but it’s also stronger and will not be weakened by the salt in saltwater over time.
If you’re planning on using colored or stamped concrete, understand that the process of making that unique material will add to your costs as well.
Concrete is a commodity, and like all commodities, it fluctuates with the market.
For example, if you’re building your home in an area where there’s a heavy demand for concrete, costs will be higher than they would be in another area of the country where concrete is abundant and cheap.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t get a great price on concrete in an area where demand is high, it’s just something to be aware of.
Weather can also drastically affect the price of concrete and other construction materials.
If you live in a wet climate, your concrete may require more expensive additives to ensure it dries properly and doesn’t crack over time. In areas where snow or rain is common, additional reinforcement may be required, and again, these costs will add up quickly.
8. Additional Costs Associated with the Product.
There are some additional costs associated with concrete that you may not have been aware of before, such as form liners and plastic coating to protect newly poured slabs from damage during transport and installation.
There are also rebar metal bars that are placed inside the concrete while it is still wet, so they will bond together when the concrete hardens.
There are several different types of rebar and form liners, all with their own price tags, so be sure you understand exactly what’s required for your project before finalizing your quote.
Why Concrete Is Expensive
As a reminder of why concrete is so expensive, here are eight reasons.
- The price of water
- The price of aggregate
- The price of cement
- The price of labor
- Type of concrete
- Additional costs associated with the product.
Before you place your order for concrete, I advise you to make sure you have a good idea of what the total cost will be. If you are on a tight budget, it’s helpful to get several quotes before making your decision.