Concrete recycling is the process of preparing rubble from demolished concrete structures for reuse. Recycling concrete is a straightforward, cost-effective, way to dispose of otherwise trash material. Recycling concrete consists of breaking, removing, and crushing concrete from another location and using it to create a new material. The process provides a solution for otherwise troublesome concrete removal and allows the material to continue its useful life in another capacity.
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In most cases, recycled concrete is used as a subbase material, but it is possible to combine the material as an additive to create new concrete. The most popular use is as a base for roads, parking lots, and driveways, but the material can also be used as backfill.
Recycling concrete offers both environmental and economic benefits. Recycling concrete from old projects can be expensive when relying on landfills and traditional disposal methods. With the rise of concrete recycling companies, contractors have been presented as a cost-effective alternative, often being able to dispose of the material for free to a concrete recycler. The environmental benefits of recycling concrete match the economic benefits. Concrete waste takes up a significant portion of landfills and many cannot accommodate the size and volume. Recycling concrete keeps this material out of landfills and saves the energy that would otherwise be used to create a new product.
Recycled concrete can be turned into Grade 1 Flex Base, Utility Rock, Rip Rap, and Fine Materials.
Select fill is similar to common fill but is a more even mixture of clay and sand. Select fill typically provides more predictable results due to the extra processing it undergoes before being sold to customers. Select fill is most often used when constructing building pads, but can also be used as backfill. While often cheaper than top soil, select fill is best used on construction sites or where heavy equipment is available.
Common fill is a cost-effective way to fill large holes, low spots, or to bring upgrades. The material is generally rocky but is cheaper than the alternative select fill. This product is mostly used in very large projects. The material typically has a high flay content, is dug straight from the ground, and loaded directly into a belly dump, end dump, or tandem dump truck. It is best used on construction sites or where heavy equipment is available to manipulate and break down the material.
Top Soil is the clay, silt, sand, and other material that is removed from the top 12” of earth. Top soil has the highest concentration of organic matter and is typically used to reshape the landscape in areas where plant growth. Top soil is excellent for improving gardens and lawns but is also used for surface grading near buildings.
Silica sand is exceedingly rare in central Texas and is the most expensive. The material is available in a very pretty white coloring but is mostly used in industrial applications due to its high cost. Silica sand is quartz that has been broken down through erosion. Silica sand is a primary ingredient in glass manufacturing, metal casting, metal production, chemical production, filtration, and has many other construction applications.
Manufactured sand is produced by reducing larger pieces of aggregate into sand-sized pieces. Manufactured sand is neutral in color, coming in a range from tan to gray, and is used in areas where natural sand is not available or when transportation is not cost-effective. Unlike washed sand, manufactured sand tends to come in irregular shapes as a result of the pulverizing process. While manufactured sand can be cost-effective, it is generally considered to be an inferior product when compared to washed sand.
Washed sand, otherwise known as washed concrete sand, is a light off-white color material which is screened and washed to remove any impurities. Used often as a building material, it is popular with golf courses, as a construction base, in pool construction, and is mixed with cement and aggregate for concrete work.
We sell manufactured sand, washed sand, and can source silica sand for customers in Waco, Bryan, and Austin, Texas. While the majority of our sand products are used in ready mix operations, they have many different applications.
Riprap is a large category of rocky material typically placed along shorelines, bridge foundations, steep slopes, and is an excellent choice for protecting landscapes and structures from erosion. Riprap ranges from 6 inches to over 2 feet in diameter and is known for being an excellent way to armor, stabilize, and protect the area it is applied.
River rock is a washed gravel known for its smooth, rounded texture and wide range of applications. The rocks will come in a mixture of sizes, but will typically be between 1” and 2” in diameter. River rock is multicolored and contains a mixture of gray, tan, white, and deep reds. The material is excellent for use in gardens, as a walkway, around patios, in residential construction, and as decoration. Due to the rounded nature of the rock, they tend to sit very loosely, providing an excellent drainage solution.
Pea gravel comes in sizes from ⅛” to ⅜” and in a wide range of colors from brown, to gray, to white, and even translucent. The material is best used for walking paths, patios, driveways, and playgrounds, but can also be used in gardens to suppress weed growth. Pea gravel is rounded and smooth, thanks to natural erosion, and lacks the jagged edges required to hold the material in place. As a result, projects using pea gravel often need some type of edging material to keep the aggregate locked in place. Pea gravel is not recommended for roadways or driveways and is best used in decorative applications or in low-impact areas.
Flex base is a coarse material most often used for driveways and temporary roadways. Also referred to as base and caliche, the material is excellent for use under concrete and asphalt pavement projects. Although primarily meant to be used temporarily, the material plays an important role in the longevity of our roads, operating as the foundation upon which our roads and driveways are built.
Road base is used as the foundation of a road or driveway. It is typically used on projects where asphalt is not cost-effective or prohibited. The material is a mixture of coarse and fine aggregate and packs down very hard in the first few weeks. Road base is a very cost-effective solution for rural driveways and parking lots.
Utility rock is a flexible material used in pipeline construction, embedment, backfill, parking lot construction, pathways, decorative landscapes, and driveways. The material is typically tan to gray in color and approximately 1” in diameter. The material has sharp edges and is excellent in areas requiring drainage.
57 rock is a crushed stone aggregate used in a variety of construction and landscaping applications. The material is very gravel-like and will have a uniform size throughout. The material is sourced from natural rock deposits and typically has jagged edges resulting from the crushing process. The number 57 refers to the size sieve used to process the stone after crushing, producing aggregate between 1” and 1.5”. The stone may consist of granite, limestone, or washed gravel depending on the source location. The material is typically used in concrete applications but is often also found in sidewalks, driveways, and on many roads. Because of the stone’s angular shape, it holds formation and provides excellent drainage for retaining walls, underground pipes, sewers and utility lines.
Crushed concrete is often cheaper, with the crusher yards being more mobile, so large projects can reduce shipping costs by bringing the plant closer to the Jobsite. As a consumer, crushed concrete is cheaper to buy and is more readily available throughout the year. Construction materials such as 1” rock, 57 rock, grade 3, pea gravel, etc. will likely end up being sold out during construction’s busy season (summer).
For large commercial projects you will likely need to make sure the material meets the job specifications. The quality of product can vary between batches and between producers. So asking around is always a good idea, or partnering with someone like Twisted Nail who already knows who to go to for questions regarding quality and safety.