Why Concrete Is the Right Choice for Your Patio’s Material

concrete patio stones

Property owners have plenty of choices when it comes to selecting a material for their patio. We’re here to unpack why concrete is the ideal patio material so you can make the most out of your property investment.

Let’s dive in.

Reason #1: Style Versatility

Patio materials like wood limit a homeowner’s ability to consider different styling options. Concrete patios offer a higher level of style versatility that allows you to acquire a final product that blends seamlessly with your overall space. If you were to select a patio material like wood, you’d find that it’s more difficult to be unique with your styling.

Choosing an adaptable material like concrete is going to make it easier for your patio to accommodate your backyard’s limitations through options like curves.

grunge wall

Color is a vital component of concrete patio designs. Methods like staining allow homeowners to install a wide variety of patio color options. Similar to color, pattern selections are going to play a central role in defining your patio. The refinement of coloring techniques and stamping tools has made patio varieties like poured-in-place concrete more dynamic than ever.1

The numerous styling options that concrete patios offer allow you to avoid owning a one-dimensional patio space. Instead, your patio will be uniquely yours.

You might be thinking that these concrete patio style perks come with a steep price tag. The positive news is that concrete is one of the more affordable options for a patio’s material. Next, we’re going to explain why this is the case.

Reason #2: Affordability

Two women sitting on sofa on outdoor backyard

Paving stones and wood are two common patio materials that are far more expensive than concrete patios. A typical wooden deck costs $33 per square foot, while concrete patios usually average $15 per square foot.2

While complementing your concrete patio’s design with additions like patterns comes at a cost, incorporating styling options on concrete patios is far more affordable than other materials like stone.

If you’re striving to create a patio space that resembles more expensive materials like stones at a fraction of the cost, concrete stenciling, stamping, engraving, and texturing are excellent options.

When looking to reduce the initial cost of installing a patio, concrete is a solid option.

Reason #3: Easy to Maintain

The solid surfaces of concrete patios require far less maintenance than alternative materials like masonry units. When your patio consists of materials like individual masonry units, additional maintenance practices like dealing with weeds are bound to crop up.

If you’re wondering how weeds can enter a patio, materials like paving stones contain sand-filled joints between units that can foster invasive plant growth.2 The aforementioned solid surfaces of concrete patios serve to prevent weeds from entering the picture.

Materials like wood will force you to stain and reseal to avoid cracking and splitting, which can be a real bummer. On the other hand, concrete patios allow you to perform maintenance yourself without special tools or equipment.

General concrete patio maintenance practices include:3

  • Surface rinsing with a garden hose
  • Using liquid dish soap and a push broom
  • Rising again to wash the soap away
  • One annual sealing

If you place value on environmental consciousness, keep reading!

Reason #4: Environmental Friendliness

Green building is becoming increasingly essential as time goes on. It’s vital that we sustainably construct buildings and homes so future generations can benefit.

Concrete is one of the world’s most environmentally friendly materials, thanks to its sustainability. Limestone, one of the earth’s most abundant minerals, is the primary raw material for the cement in concrete. Other materials manufacturers use to create concrete are silica fume, sly ash, and additional recyclable materials.4

The sustainability that concrete patios provide translates into long-lasting results. You can trust that your concrete patio will stand its ground against heat, rust, and rotting. It’s not uncommon for a concrete patio to last double or even triple the amount of time of other patio materials.

If you’re wondering how concrete patios withstand natural elements like heat, reflectivity is a primary factor.4 Light-colored concrete is going to attract less heat and reflect higher levels of solar radiation.

Hiring a company to address your concrete patio needs will simplify the entire building process. We understand that you’re looking for a patio contractor that can turn your vision into a reality. Let’s talk about how Cross Construction Services can help you accomplish that goal.

Why You Should Choose Cross Construction Services

Our 30-plus years serving Houston, Texas, and the surrounding Houston area help you accomplish your concrete patio goals by using our straightforward and economical knowledgeable approach.

Concrete patios aren’t limited to fully outdoor spaces. If you’re looking for patio room contractors, you’ve come to the right place. We build screened-in patios so you can enjoy the outdoors with additional protection from natural elements.

Durable and easy to maintain, concrete patios are a reliable and affordable choice. Contact Cross Construction Services today at 713-254-1703 to start building your ideal concrete patio.


  1. https://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete-patio/benefits.html
  2. https://www.portaggregates.com/choose-concrete-patio-surface/
  3. https://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete-patio/maintenance.htm
  4. https://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete/greenbuildinginformation/

10 Cutting-Edge Concrete Construction Techniques for Your Next Project

If you’re just starting a new construction project or reading this article, you’ll probably be using concrete at some point soon. Thankfully, concrete construction has come a long way from pouring cement into wooden forms: From self-healing formulations to entirely 3D-printed constructions, you may be surprised to discover just how far concrete has come!

While there’s nothing wrong with keeping things simple, your project may benefit from adopting one of the following methods and techniques. Not only are many of these methods extremely cost- and time-effective, but they’re also surprisingly easy to implement—so much so that they might be substantially easier and less expensive to use for your project than traditional concrete construction methods.

As you’ll see shortly, some of these cutting-edge techniques don’t even involve concrete directly; in some cases, the improvements are all in the design process. Read on to find out more!

1. Augmented Reality

Augmented reality marketing concept for architecture

Augmented reality has not only become beneficial for concrete construction, but it’s also now widely used throughout the construction industry as a whole. With augmented reality, prototyping and planning have become leaner, less expensive, and more flexible than ever before.

What exactly is augmented reality, and how can it benefit you and your project—let alone one specifically involving concrete?

Augmented reality is similar to virtual reality, but instead it “augments” your field of vision with virtual structures—namely, your construction project. This process is usually performed using a smartphone or some other “smart device,” where software simulates how your structure will look by placing it into your camera view. This way, you can “view” your project through your camera lens without any need for physical prototyping.

While augmented reality may seem fairly high tech, there’s a good chance you’ve done most of the work already: If you’ve been planning your project “on paper,” you’ve likely used computer-assisted design (CAD) software to do so. With many augmented reality programs working in tandem with most major CAD software distributions, you can automatically convert your existing project plans into an immersive, or at least semi-immersive, augmented reality experience using a smart device.

2. 3D Printing and Modeling

As with augmented reality, 3D printing and modeling allow you to convert your designs into tangible prototypes—and, in some cases, build your entire structure or modular components directly using concrete 3D printing.

While building-scale 3D printing is still in development, conventional 3D printing can still help you design, prototype, and build many components of your project. In its most accessible form, resin-based 3D printing can be used to print scaled-down prototypes of your designs, which may grant a helpful perspective beyond simply imagining the design or viewing it through software.

Now, if you have access to concrete 3D printing technology, then certainly take advantage of it: Construction companies have achieved overwhelmingly positive results by simply 3D printing their concrete structures rather than dealing with form molds, setting times, and other drawbacks usually associated with conventional concrete construction.

Plus, with many concrete 3D-printed structures showing similar—if not superior—performance to factory-formed structures, 3D printing is set to become more commonplace in construction soon.

3. Pre-Cast Foundations

corner of brick wall with clouds behind

We know what you might be thinking and, unfortunately, it’s not quite practical to form a concrete foundation in a factory and then transport it somewhere—at least, not all at once that is.

Here, a “pre-cast” foundation is built using some number of pre-cast modules. These modules can range in size from cinderblocks to larger, modular components. The latter has now become a favored concrete construction method. In any case, using modular components to build your foundation offers far greater flexibility than traditional poured-concrete construction methods.

The benefits aren’t just limited to flexibility in design: By using the right techniques and materials, precast foundations are far less prone to structural errors and easier to repair or insulate. Of course, assembling pre-cast modules is somewhat more involved than simply pouring the foundation—but at least you won’t have to deal with building forms and pouring messy cement!

4. Pre-Cast Flat-Panel Modules

Foundations aren’t the only major structures that can benefit from pre-cast modules: Floors, walls, and other large sections can, too. With many of these components now made in controlled factory settings, it’s now possible to achieve the flexibility of modular construction with the strength of concrete—all without the mess of pouring concrete at the job site.

Also known as “cross-wall construction,” using pre-cast flat-panel modules is quickly becoming a popular construction choice for concrete buildings. Manufacturing panels in a controlled setting not only lends new flexibility to concrete construction but makes it much easier for construction teams to adhere to specifications while significantly shortening project times.

5. 3D Volumetric Construction

3D volumetric construction combines the speed and flexibility of modular construction with the design capabilities of 3D printing and other forms of additive manufacturing. The result is completely pre-fabricated, 3D concrete modules, such as individual units in a concrete apartment building. Where pre-cast foundations and flat-panel modules still require major assembly at the job site, 3D volumetric construction reduces major onsite assembly to—quite literally—stacking blocks together.

Of course, like pre-cast foundations and flat panels, 3D volumetric construction requires off-site facilities for producing the modules. While utilizing such facilities may come with additional overhead, the increased flexibility, control over design, and adherence to specifications are often worth any additional investment.

6. Self-Healing Concrete

Self-healing concrete is finally starting to take shape in the construction world. While concrete has been around since ancient Rome, even the most modern formulations are still prone to cracking and degrading over time. As a result, regular concrete repair remains a crucial part of concrete maintenance—but maybe not for much longer!

By mixing beneficial colonies of bacteria directly into the concrete, self-healing concrete becomes capable of automatically filling cracks, gaps, and other damage as they form. While this technology is still relatively new, it’s already delivering promising results and could potentially reduce—if not eliminate—many routine concrete repair tasks in the near future.

7. Raised-Access Flooring

Concrete has also become a preferred material for raised-access flooring, where concrete panels are suspended above the ground using specially-made hardware. With this extra space, it’s possible to run HVAC, electrical wiring, and other utilities below the floor—or, in other words, completely out of sight. Plus, with concrete as the primary material, raised-access flooring is both durable and inexpensive.

In addition to providing extra space for utilities, raised-access flooring can also help improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the utilities themselves. For example, raised-access flooring allows underfloor air distribution, an efficient and low-energy alternative to many conventional HVAC systems.

8. Insulating Concrete Formwork (ICF)

Insulating concrete formwork (ICF) uses hollow polystyrene “bricks” to rapidly construct forms for foundations, walls, and other concrete structures. After stacking, the bricks are filled with pre-mixed concrete, resulting in a thick wall with an insulative exterior.

Speed and flexibility are the primary benefits of using ICF in a construction project. Since the polystyrene forms are small and lightweight, they’re quick and easy to stack into almost any arrangement with only a few people. In most cases, a small team of builders can assemble and pour entire foundations or exterior walls in a single day!

While concrete already has good insulative properties, the extra insulation provided by the polystyrene forms makes for a “one-step” construction solution. Since the form itself becomes part of the structure, rather than being removed after setting, construction teams no longer have to spend valuable time building and setting up temporary forms. Plus, drywall and exterior siding can be directly affixed to the polystyrene.

9. Thin-Joint Masonry

Men hands while constructing beams of building

A modern approach to traditional masonry techniques, thin-joint masonry utilizes small, thin layers of mortar to secure concrete blocks and bricks. Where traditional methods of mortaring would use thick layers, setting times could quickly become an issue—especially where large amounts were required. With thin-joint masonry, setting times are massively reduced, with the side effect of cost- and time-savings from using less mortar.

The results of thin-joint masonry also lend to a more modern aesthetic, where blocks or bricks will have only a fine seam between them.

10. Kinetic Footfall Energy Capture

While it’s still an emerging technology, kinetic footfall energy capture is already showing promise as a viable form of alternative energy for buildings with high foot traffic. By embedding kinetic sensors into concrete floors, kinetic footfall energy captures and stores the energy from footsteps. This captured energy, combined with that from other passive energy sources, can help supplement the building’s energy needs.

Finding the Right Construction Team

No matter the type of concrete construction you use, hiring the right construction team is one of the best ways to guarantee great results. For more information on our concrete construction services, call our team at 713-254-1703.

Historic Building Materials and Methods

While many of today’s building materials and methods may seem new, their origins are often older than we think: From Roman concrete to ancient Egyptian plywood, human history is rich with fascinating examples of innovative building materials and construction techniques, many of which continue to inspire modern advancements in materials science and engineering.

Curiously, despite being markedly simpler than most modern building materials, many historic building materials are extremely durable—sometimes more so than their modern counterparts. In many cases, historic buildings have withstood the test of time to last centuries to millennia.

Before we can consider the materials themselves, however, we’ll first need to understand why— and where—certain materials came to be.

Building Local: Regional Influences on Construction Techniques

old wooden construction with fence

Despite their ancient origins, many modern building materials—at least as we know them—are still a far cry from anything our ancestors knew. Before the 20th century, most people were limited to what was either on hand or available nearby. This limitation partially influenced many of the regional building styles and preferences still employed today, such as the timber construction common throughout heavily forested North America.

While European settlers were not strangers to using timber for construction, North American colonies gave them unprecedented access to swarths of old-growth timber—certainly more than they ever had in Western Europe. As a result, timber was the most viable building material not only for homes and buildings but also for furniture, ships, and other things.

Other parts of the world yield their specific regional building materials, and a quick look at the surrounding landscape is often enough to see why a certain region might prefer a certain material: In towns along the dry, rocky coast of the Mediterranean, for example, the vast majority of buildings use the surrounding stone and clay as building materials rather than the few trees suitable for lumber.

Early humans were even more limited, especially in the thousands of years predating the construction of permanent shelters. In most regions throughout the world, early humans were largely nomadic and took shelter either in natural features such as caves or, in later years, portable shelters usually made from animal hide and branches.

Though modern society no longer faces these limitations, their influence remains: Even in North America, for example, more homes are built from wood than anywhere else in the world.

Building Materials and Methods Throughout Time

gray concrete stairs

Building materials have undergone dramatic evolutions throughout human history: Where our earliest ancestors were once limited to natural materials such as tree branches and animal hides, their descendants would go on to make gradual improvements over successive generations.

However, these improvements often came slowly, with many materials being used the same way for several generations, if not longer. Most of the building materials we know today—at least in the forms we know them—weren’t available until the 19th and 20th centuries!

As a result, many of the building materials and methods we’ll explore are much “closer to nature” than those we’re used to today. However, the materials themselves—along with the building methods that made them practical—are more fascinating than many might think.

Wood: Sticks to Lumber

Plentiful, easy to work with, and extremely durable, wood has been used for shelter, tools, and fuel since the dawn of man—and it continues to get plenty of use to this day.

Despite its prevalence throughout human history, however, wood has undergone some of the greatest evolution of any other building material. Where our earliest ancestors might have used tree branches and sticks to fashion simple shelters, we now benefit from a wide variety of wood-based construction materials, including milled lumber, plywood, and countless methods for joinery and carpentry.

Some of the earliest permanent—or, more accurately, semi-permanent—wood shelters were those constructed throughout forested regions around the dawn of civilization. While once largely nomadic, humans started to build these permanent settlements with the onset of agriculture and trade, often using wood as a primary construction material.

Many of these early wood structures resembled the tipis and log cabins we continue to associate with natural or traditional building materials. Viking longhouses, for example, utilized timber framing filled with a mixture of mud and moss for insulation—though they certainly weren’t the first.

Timber framing is largely responsible for the spread of wood construction throughout the world, providing structures with then-newfound levels of versatility and strength. Some of the earliest timber frame structures date to the Neolithic era, with most examples utilizing some sort of insulative “filling” between the frames, such as mud.

With the right carpentry, timber also presented several other advantages. Many traditional Japanese buildings, for example, utilized timber framing connected with complex joinery. By factoring in the grain of the wood and its changes between the seasons, Japanese carpenters were able to build frames that automatically adjusted with seasonal changes. Combined with natural earthquake resistance, many traditional Japanese wood structures have been standing for centuries.

Earth: Mud and Cob

In regions where wood wasn’t widely available, mud, clay, and cob—a durable mixture of clay and straw—were the most viable alternatives. However, these materials weren’t just alternatives to wood; in many respects, they were superior.

Where timber-framed structures were often difficult to insulate and ran the risk of catching fire, mud- and clay-based buildings were naturally insulative and fire-resistant. Plus, the material was much easier to get; those in clay-rich regions had all the material they needed—literally!—under their feet.

These benefits made clay and mud some of the most popular building materials in both the ancient world and recent history. One of the most striking examples is the city of Shibam Hadramawt in Yemen, where multi-story mudbrick “skyscrapers” have stood for centuries.

Stone and Masonry

In addition to wood and mud, stones were another important construction material. However, stone was more than just a building material for early humans: For a long time, it was also an essential tool.

Before the development of metal-tipped tools and weapons, sharpened stones were used for various tasks. Flint, for example, became ideal for knives and arrows due to the naturally razor-sharp shards it formed when chipped. Similarly, larger stones could be chipped and sharpened to prepare axes and other sharp objects.

These stone tools were largely responsible for allowing humans to build structures out of wood and mud. With axes, for example, it was possible to fell trees and cut them to size. These capabilities only increased with the advent of metal tools, which also helped make stones themselves into a suitable building material.

Stone structures are among the most historically impressive in the world—and some of the longest-lasting. From the limestone Acropolis of Ancient Greece to the towering Great Pyramids of Giza, stone is responsible for some of history’s most significant structures.


Pantheon's large circular dome unique in Roman architecture

Combining the flexibility of mud and clay with the strength and durability of stone, concrete may seem like a relatively new invention—even though its origins are rooted over two thousand years ago.

The Ancient Romans were among the most notable early users of concrete. Discovering that the addition of volcanic ash helped concrete set underwater, the Romans used concrete for a wide variety of construction projects: From aqueducts to Rome’s Colosseum, concrete was largely responsible for many of Ancient Rome’s most significant buildings.

Among the most impressive Roman concrete structures is the Pantheon. Complete in 128 CE, the Pantheon remains the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world—even after almost two thousand years! This impressive longevity has made Roman concrete the inspiration for many modern blends of concrete, with the particular formula for Roman concrete having been largely lost to history.

Today, concrete continues to benefit structures with its durability, strength, and flexibility. Where structures previously required intricate construction techniques to achieve dramatic and novel shapes, concrete can be cast and molded into nearly any form. As a result, concrete remains as popular as it was in Ancient Rome, with the vast majority of new construction using it for everything from foundations to superstructures.

Building Materials Today: Which Is Best?

While many historic building materials and methods are certainly impressive, we’ve come a long way since the times of our ancestors. However, while many modern materials are vastly different from their historic predecessors, concrete has remained one of the most cost-effective construction materials throughout its multi-millennia lifespan

While you might not be building the next Pantheon, concrete can still provide your driveways and patios with the same durability. For more information on our concrete construction services, contact our team at 713-254-1703.

The Future of Construction

From changing demand to technology, to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the construction industry is changing. Companies are facing longer project completion and even cancellation of projects, and there’s the concern over the health of employees and subcontractors.

According to PwC’s COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey released in June 2020, 81% of Chief Financial Operators were considering cost reductions, and 56% were planning to defer/cancel investments.1 The current crisis has struck the engineering and construction industry harder than other economic downturns.

Here is a look at what the future of construction might look like amid current trends, the pandemic, and the economic crisis.

Cleaner Jobsites

Asian male and female engineers wearing mask protect with helmet

Worker health and safety have become even more important. Companies are implementing policies such as staggered shifts to practice social distancing, routine disinfection of jobsites (including tools and machinery), and even employee temperature checks. Many employers are requiring the use of masks and gloves. Others have even been producing their own sanitizing soap.

Cleanliness is and will continue to be a top priority. Construction companies are following the guidelines of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and recommendations for construction work by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These health and safety measures are necessary for compliance purposes and to ensure employees feel safe returning to work.

In particular are standards regarding:

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE), including respirators, masks, and face coverings
  • Handwashing procedures/installation of hand sanitizing stations
  • Workplace cleaning, disinfection, and sanitizing
  • Hazard communication
  • Social distancing
  • Jobsite pre-access health questionnaires
  • Temperature checks

Remote Communication

Social distancing doesn’t only mean staying six feet apart. Many contractors are permitting telework, using video conferencing platforms for virtual meetings focused on construction management and project updates.

In the past, picking materials often required travel, especially on the part of the customer. Identifying and verifying materials can now be accomplished virtually. Virtual Design Construction (VDC) simplifies the pre-construction material selection process and helps reduce the amount of waste. Also, potential issues can be found in advance to save time and cost.

While physical project completion must be done in-person, many personnel can work remotely in construction jobs, including:

  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Project managers
  • Safety managers
  • Account managers
  • Directors
  • Analysts
  • Dispatchers3
  • And more

Employee Recruitment

Recruitment strategies vary depending on the market and project type. Some employees may hire within select local markets to find talent that fully understands the needs of contractors in the region. Interviews have traditionally taken place in-person, but virtual interviews may become more commonplace to minimize contact. The hiring process could increasingly involve orientations and briefings on company safety guidelines, crisis response plans, and various response protocols within the workplace or on the jobsite.

Longer Project Times

Major safety measures, donning/sanitizing PPE, and staggered work shifts are expected to prolong project completion times. Some construction companies may allow only one trade on a site at a time. New guidelines may drastically alter construction schedules, and it may not be possible to fast-track a project. Contractors will need to consider these time constraints, as will subcontractors, architects, owners, and other members of the project team and supply chain.

Demand for New Project Types

The coronavirus outbreak is changing the demand for different types of construction projects. For example, it’s less likely contractors will see as much retail, entertainment, and hospitality construction. However, healthcare construction and manufacturing projects are more likely to be in demand.

It is also uncertain how a decrease in travel will impact road and bridge construction, amid declines in states’ Department of Transportation revenue and possible shifts in Congressional funding toward COVID-19 support for struggling businesses and unemployed individuals.

Rising Material Costs

Project suspensions, increased delivery times, and other factors are driving up material costs. Some reasons for rising costs include damage to stored materials during suspension periods, uncertainty as to the availability of contractors for restarting projects, and costs incurred for a supplier holding materials during a suspension period. Various other costs may apply beyond the initial contract.

A rise in demand for eco-friendly materials may impact costs as well. Examples include using salvaged or reclaimed wood instead of cutting down new trees, environmentally sustainable materials for flooring, low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paints, recycled drywall, and recycled glass or paper composite materials for countertops. Demand vs. cost in this area may impact construction in the months and years to come.


Construction Worker Planning Contractor Developer

Technologies proving beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic and for the future of construction include:

  • Offsite Construction: With modular construction, homes and other structures don’t need to be built from scratch. Pre-fabricated materials and 3D printing are making modular construction practical and affordable.
  • Augmented Reality (AR): No longer just for gaming and consumer gadgets, AR is being used in construction. Imagine project updates and safety warnings, temperature, and pressure data delivered via a worker’s helmet or goggles.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Machine learning can help analyze millions of scenarios to make predictions, improve scheduling, and streamline the entire process. Artificial intelligence can also identify high-risk worker behaviors and analyze photos of at-risk materials.
  • Digital Connectivity: Construction managers can receive important information without having to travel, thereby making decisions faster. Employees also receive faster responses. Digital forms can be used to communicate information.
  • Building Analytics: The Internet of Things (IoT) has prevailed everywhere and suits the construction industry, as sensors can be installed to manage everything from heating and cooling to security, to energy usage. Various building systems can be tested, installed, and implemented with the available data.
  • Drones: Remotely controlled drones have become mainstream and make it possible to safely inspect and analyze parts of the jobsite without sending people into the field. This helps reduce hazards and the number of individuals on the jobsite.

Contact Cross Construction Services

Drone inspection. Operator inspecting construction building turbine power plant

A leader in construction management in the Houston area, Cross Construction Services handles all aspects of the process, including planning and design, construction, and project delivery. We coordinate all construction activities with the appropriate entities, including owners and architects/engineers. Our expertise is executed in conjunction with the latest COVID-19 guidelines and knowledge of trends shaping the future of the industry.

For help with residential and commercial concrete driveway construction and pavement services, a free estimate, and to get started, call us today at 713-254-1703.


  1. https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/issues/crisis-solutions/covid-19/global-cfo-pulse.html
  2. https://www.simplyhired.com/search?q=remote+construction+manager&pn=3&job=h0iK8nhjusbB7f7mzWWYdcuweHwQJxhQACb5dVkI-pG1SI1x4wosWA

Construction Materials and Methods: The Fundamentals

Concrete Building

Property owners and contractors have more construction materials to choose from than ever before. Instead of being limited to construction materials from a certain part of the world (such as wood in North America), global shipping has allowed anyone to build with nearly any material from around the globe. This flexibility has only improved with the development of man-made materials, such as concrete and engineered wood.

However, some materials used in construction are better-suited for certain applications than others—but just what are the most common construction and building materials, and which ones are best-suited for which projects? Read on to find out.

Why Choosing the Right Material Is Important

Choosing the right material is, arguably, the most important part of any construction project. Just as you wouldn’t use wood to build a 50-story skyscraper, you probably wouldn’t use steel plating to pave your driveway.

In most cases, however, a construction project could be built equally well using different materials. For example, while you’re not going to pave your driveway with steel, you’ll probably be choosing between concrete and asphalt—two common paving materials.

The material you choose will ultimately impact almost every factor of the project, mainly budget, durability/longevity, aesthetics, and, above all, practicality. The goal should be to strike a reasonable balance between these factors to get the best value for your money.

For example, you may have the choice to build a house using either wood framing or cinder blocks. Both are good building materials in their own right, but using wood would be preferable in places where, say, lumber is inexpensive and there aren’t many termites. Similarly, cement and cinder blocks would be preferable in places with high humidity and frequent termite infestations (read: many parts of Texas!).

Which materials are best for which projects? The answers may surprise you. Some materials have special properties that make them suited for projects they aren’t always used for.

Common Construction materials

While anything can technically be construction material, the ones we’ve compiled for this section are the most common. In addition to discussing the material itself, we’ll also discuss some of its associated building methods and applications.


Wood is one of the oldest and most abundant construction materials in the world, with over 93 percent of new homes in the United States being built from wood every year. In areas like the United States and North America, wood is the preferred construction material due to its high availability and resultingly low cost.

Wood also has benefits beyond just availability and price: Wood is also incredibly durable, capable of withstanding high compression forces and, with the right construction, high winds and earthquakes. Many contractors and carpenters also prefer wood due to its pliability and ease to work with.

While the exact properties of wood vary with the type (e.g., pine, oak, etc.) and the cut used, most wood used for construction in the United States is either pine or oak, the former being the most prevalent. In addition to framing buildings, wood is also used for most interior work, as well as roofing, decks, siding, fencing, and decorative elements. Needless to say, wood is an extremely versatile building material!

Manufactured Wood

Wood Home Construction

Sometimes known as “engineered wood,” manufactured wood is a broad category of wood-based products that serve as alternatives to natural wood. Some common examples include plywood and particleboard. By using recycled wood materials, manufactured wood is typically less expensive per unit of area than natural wood.

Manufactured wood presents benefits beyond cost-savings, however; since engineers have full control over its “design,” many manufactured wood products have higher strength and rot-resistance than natural wood. Combined with cost-savings, these benefits have made manufactured wood another preferred material in most home construction projects.

Some manufactured wood products also use veneers to replicate natural wood while maintaining the strength and durability of an engineered product. Such products have become preferred over natural wood but can sometimes cost more as a result.


Steel is the preferred construction material for many commercial and large-scale construction projects, making up most of America’s skyscrapers, bridges, and other superstructures. Without steel, skyscrapers would have never been possible—or, at least, they wouldn’t have been easy!

While its exact properties depend mostly on carbon and metal content, steel is usually known for having both high compression and tensile strength. These properties make it ideal for large structures or those expected to hold a lot of weight; as a result, it’s the preferred construction material for many commercial projects.

However, steel often finds its way into many residential projects as well. While it’s uncommon to build a private residence out of steel alone, many utilize steel supports and beams to stabilize major load-bearing parts of the house. Steel is even more widely used in the design of many modern homes, where it (literally) supports open concepts and other “daring” architectural feats.

Except for stainless steel, steel can – and does – rust. However, placed internally to a structure and/or treated with certain paints and coatings, steel can last for decades and withstand most elements and natural forces (e.g. hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.).


No matter what material you build a house or building out of, there’s one material you’ll always use: drywall. Since its development as an alternative to plaster-on-wood walls in the early 20th century, drywall has quickly become the preferred wall-finishing solution for most construction projects. Whether it’s a ranch house or a high rise, most buildings built in the last century—and into the foreseeable future—utilize drywall.

A major benefit of drywall is its fire-resistance, a property owed to gypsum. Since many new homes are wood- and timber-framed, drywall’s fire-resistance has become an essential safeguard against housefires.

Other benefits of using drywall include easy priming, painting, and finishing, as well as easy cutting, fitting, and fastening. Compared to conventional wall-finishing methods such as plaster, drywall is incredibly easy and versatile to use.

Bricks and Stone

Bricks, stone, and other forms of masonry are probably the oldest and most reliable construction materials in the world. Used correctly, masonry can withstand fire, water, structural damage, and age—a trait proudly displayed by still-standing Roman aqueducts and other surviving examples of ancient architecture.

While you may not be building an aqueduct (or even a pyramid), masonry is still used for many construction projects. However, due to some of the labor and costs involved, many new buildings have begun to use cheaper, easier-to-work-with materials such as wood and metal. As a result, many new masonry projects have become limited to patios, walkways, driveways, and landscaping projects.

However, basic masonry still finds use in some concrete homes, which we’ll cover in the section further below. Many new homes are also finished with brick facades which, while not load-bearing, provide a beautiful old-world aesthetic to any new building project.


Glass is everywhere in modern construction; where it was once solely for individual windows, glass is now used for walls, railings, and even floors and ceilings. Thanks to modern engineering, glass can take on nearly any shape and size while maintaining high strength and durability.

Some modern glass also has insulative properties, making it suitable for large windows in cold climates. These properties have allowed large buildings and homes with all-glass facades in cold climates to maintain an acceptable level of energy efficiency.


While concrete may seem like a modern material, its roots extend back to the ancient Romans. Just like with their masonry structures, most original buildings made from Roman concrete have been standing for over a thousand years!

Today, concrete is used for an extremely wide variety of construction projects: Many homes are built from concrete blocks, foundations are poured and laid with concrete, and many homeowners are embracing concrete driveways as a preferred alternative to asphalt and gravel. In any application, concrete is inexpensive, offers high flexibility in shape and form, and shares similar durability to stone and other types masonry.

Beautiful Home Front

Concrete properties also make it possible to embed objects inside of it, such as steel rods for reinforcement. This ability has made concrete (particularly reinforced concrete) a viable construction material for large projects such as skyscrapers and bridges.

The Most Versatile Construction Material?

While every construction material has its unique applications, few materials match the versatility and cost-effectiveness of concrete. With concrete, it’s possible to build a house, pave a driveway, and landscape using the same material. Plus, with its ability to take on most forms and finishes, concrete looks good in the process.

If you’re interested in learning more about concrete construction and how you can incorporate it into your property, call our concrete driveway construction team at 713-254-1703.

The Top 8 Popular Materials Used for Backyard Patios

Whether you are renovating or installing a new backyard patio, there are several different types of materials you could use. You need to decide which materials will help you achieve the desired results. Some of the more popular materials include:

1. Concrete

Concrete is the top choice of material for backyard patios. It is versatile and can be used for just about any size patio you desire. It is also a great choice if you are installing an in-ground or above-ground pool.

There are several different designs available with concrete due to its flexibility, such as:

  • Traditional: This design is your standard concrete patio that is gray in color and smooth. You can have it poured as a single piece or in multiple sections for larger patios. This design also works well if you are using brick or stone for walkways and accents around the patio.
  • Modern: This design utilizes various industrial materials like steel bars for added support and other modern elements for a high-quality patio.
  • Rustic: This design features using earth tones and rustic architectural elements to give a ranch-like, country feel.
  • Old World: This concrete patio design has that worn look, using various stone finishes and warm colors to give it a dated look and feel.
  • Tropical: If you want a beach-themed patio design, this tropical design is for you. The design incorporates turquoise hues and sandy themes to give it a beach and ocean-side feel.

Concrete patios are some of the easiest to maintain. You simply wet them down, brush off any dirt and debris, and rinse them. Concrete is sealed after it is installed, and this sealant lasts several years before it has to be reapplied.

Patio Chairs

2. Bricks

Bricks are another popular choice for patios. Bricks work well for ground-level designs. However, installing a brick patio does take a little more effort and detailed work to ensure each brick is properly spaced and level. You must also ensure the underlying ground has been compacted and prepared correctly to avoid individual bricks from sinking into the ground later.

Another key consideration with bricks is they will require more maintenance than concrete. The infill around the bricks often has to be refreshed annually to keep weeds from growing in between the bricks.

3. Gravel

Gravel is a good choice when you want a nice outdoor space to relax and unwind. Gravel does offer some flexibility since you can use it in multiple spaces in your backyard to enhance landscaping.

You will need to make sure any grass is removed and there is a barrier placed onto the ground to prevent grass and weeds from growing. You also need to make sure there is a deep layer of gravel, as well as a barrier around the patio to prevent the gravel from overflowing into the yard when it rains.

4. Wood

If you want an elevated backyard patio, then wood could be the right choice. There are different types of wood to choose from, ranging from light- to dark-colored woods. You could even opt for bamboo, which is a very eco-friendly wood.

You will need to make sure that wood support posts are properly secured into the ground with concrete. You do not want the support posts touching any dirt, as moisture in the dirt could cause wood rot to occur much faster.

Another concern with wood is you will need to paint or seal the patio annually to get the maximum life out of the wood. Unlike concrete patios that can last a lifetime, wood patios will need to be replaced a few times.

5. Vinyl

Vinyl has become a popular alternative to wood. It is easy to maintain and comes in a variety of colors, including wood grains. Vinyl support posts are also available, so you don’t have to worry about your supports rotting—although you will need to pour concrete around each post and into the base of each post for a secure patio that can withstand windy conditions.

6. Tile Overlays

Another option that is great if you rent or lease your home and have a pre-existing concrete patio, is to use tile overlays to give your patio a new look and feel. Patio tiles lock together and sit on top of the concrete. When your lease is up and you move out, you can remove the tiles and take them with you.

7. Pavers

Pavers come in a variety of sizes and shapes. You can find pavers made of slate, flagstone, concrete, clay, etc. Just like brick patios, pavers have to be individually laid, spaced, and leveled. The underlying ground also must be compacted and prepared correctly to avoid sinking pavers.

The infill around the pavers will need regular maintenance to avoid problems with moss and weeds. Additionally, you will need to make sure the pavers are thick enough to avoid cracking and breaking.

8. Granite/Concrete Mix

The use of granite mixed in with concrete is growing in popularity. Granite is broken up and ground into varying sizes before it is mixed in with the concrete. Adding granite to the concrete mix makes it possible to add some color to the patio while still achieving a sturdy, durable, and long-lasting backyard patio.

Choosing the Right Backyard Patio Material for You

Man Pulling Out Concrete

To help you decide which patio material is best, there are several key considerations and questions you need to answer:

  • What is your budget? Several of these patio materials can quickly add up in costs. Concrete is one of the lowest-costing materials you can choose that is easy on bare feet, but gravel tends to be the least expensive.
  • How durable is the material? Durability has to do with how long the patio will last. If you want a long-lasting patio, then concrete would be the perfect choice.
  • How much maintenance is needed? Another important question is the amount of maintenance you must do or hire someone to do. Maintenance is an additional cost you need to remember to include. Concrete has an incredibly low maintenance cost.
  • What design or style of patio do you want? The overall design and style can influence what material or materials you end up selecting. Concrete is a versatile material with a variety of styles, designs, and themes.
  • Do you want a backyard covered patio? If you also want a covered patio, you must consider how the cover will be installed. There are covers that are an extension of your home. You could opt for a pergola or another style of stand-alone cover as well.
  • How labor-intensive is the installation? Some patio materials are very labor-intensive—like bricks and pavers. On the other hand, concrete is less labor-intensive—once the ground is prepared—since it is poured.
  • Are there any benefits of one material over another? For example, concrete offers several benefits as it is available in different styles and designs, is inexpensive, is durable, lasts a long time, and is easy to maintain.

DIY or Hire a Contractor?

Home Patio with Jacuzzi

Once you decide on the type of backyard patio design, style, and material you want to use, your last consideration is whether you want to renovate or install the patio as a DIY project or hire a contractor. While certain aspects of the patio project could certainly be DIY, for others you will want to hire a contractor.

Most patio materials require a certain amount of prep work like removing the grass, compacting the ground, ensuring it slopes away from the home, and so on. Another benefit of hiring a contractor is that you’ll know the work will be completed based on current building codes.

You also won’t have to worry about having a home inspection and the patio certified later. Not to mention, your contactor also will help obtain any necessary building permits. Most importantly, you know your patio project will actually be completed and not be one of those DIY projects that gets started but never finished.

To learn more about our backyard patio designs and styles, backyard covered patios, patio concrete restoration services, and other residential concrete and construction services, please feel free to contact Cross Construction Services in Houston at 713-254-1703 today!

How Building Materials Change Over Time

Concrete isn’t a new building material, but it has certainly gotten stronger and more versatile over time. A variety of other building materials has been around since ancient times, while concrete-like materials used as early as 6500 BC have been found in Syria and Jordan.1 Concrete was used frequently by the Roman Empire, but it wasn’t anything like the aggregates of stone, sand, and water used to make Portland Cement you’ll find in a modern concrete driveway.

Building materials have drastically changed over time. Some have evolved from types used for thousands of years, while others are newer and promise to reshape the future of construction.

Early Materials

In Neolithic times, bone, grasses, hide, and animal fibers were used. Natural building materials were dominant. It was common to use mammoth ribs, tree bark, logs, clay, and lime plaster to shape and assemble using simple tools. The first structures were likely similar to huts and tents. In ancient times, as tools and techniques advanced, available materials ranged from what could be found in nature to materials that seem more familiar today.

dolmen della chianca in bisceglie town apulia, Italy

  • Stone: Even when a lack of metal tools limited the types of available materials, builders could erect stone structures. Dry stone walls don’t even have mortar to bind the stones together. Still, stones can be used to construct buildings, bridges, and sculptures. Early examples can be found in Scotland and Ireland.
  • Mud: Mud bricks, first used in the late Neolithic period, were improved by the ancient Egyptians around 3000 BC. Mud was mixed with straw to form an adobe-like material heated into bricks. This process evolved into the use of mortar, which was used over the casing stones of the Great Pyramid of Giza, allowing stonemasons to carve and set them to tight tolerances.
  • Wood: One of the first building materials, wood remains popular and is a renewable resource. Prehistoric shelters and fortifications often consisted of wood, and wooden logs likely served as the first bridges. Today, lumber is used to frame homes and other structures, and various types of wood are used for interior/exterior building materials and furnishings.
  • Bronze: During the Bronze Age, bronze and copper were used to make more durable tools. Bronze could be shaped; it could also be recast if damaged. This eventually led to the use of iron, which is similar in hardness. Steel was created by adding carbon to iron—a process that was in place after 300 BC.

Evolution of Building Materials

Abandoned Wooden House

Building materials have not only evolved with trends, but also with demands for durability, size, and control over interior environments. The energy available to support construction has also influenced the kinds of building materials used.

Timber and brick have been used throughout many time periods. In Ancient Rome, timber roofs were used, and ancient Chinese temples were built with wooden timber frames, long before sealcoating was used to protect concrete surfaces. Traditional timber framing became less popular during the Industrial Revolution, as steel could be mass-produced, but wood has regained popularity as an eco-friendlier material with more options for custom machining, integration, styling, and fireproofing.

Mud bricks were used throughout ancient times. Lime mortar was used in Ancient Greece, and stone bricks were used in China (parts of the Great Wall consist of stone bricks). Brick was popular during the Renaissance and increased in production during the eighteenth century. The production process changed little over time. Although now mass-produced rather than handmade, brick remains a popular architectural material today.

Other building materials that have evolved over time include:

  • Glass: Used in everything from windows and home furnishings to the walls of skyscrapers, glass has been manufactured since the seventeenth century. Early forms of glass were available in ancient Egypt, Rome, and during the Middle Ages. Once it could be mass-produced, glass became more commonly used in structures and not just as a luxury.
  • Insulation: Asbestos was the first form of insulation and was used well into the 20th century. The first modern advance in insulation happened in the 1930s with the accidental invention of fiberglass insulation. It was popular in the 1940s, while cellulose was common from the 1950s to the 1970s. Polyurethane spray foam became popular in home construction in the 1980s while, today, there are many different types of insulation to choose from.
  • Flooring: In early history, stone was the dominant building material. It is still used today, as is wood. Older homes often have linoleum or vinyl flooring, although this is widely considered outdated. Vinyl produced decades ago may contain asbestos and dioxins, which are unhealthy. Hardwood flooring is commonplace; bamboo is often used as an alternative to vinyl and is extremely durable and sustainable.

Industrial Revolution

Skyscraper Construction

During the Industrial Revolution, new technologies emerged that led to construction advancements. The development of machinery and tools for cutting, grinding, boring, and other processes allowed for more building flexibility. Steam engines, explosives, and transportation options like canals and railways expanded building potential as well.

Once steel could be mass-produced, I-beams and reinforced concrete were possible. This also led to the widespread use of plumbing to provide ordinary homes with fresh water and a systematic means to collect sewage (modern pipes are usually made of corrosion-resistant plastic composites). The creation and refining of building codes have led to improvements in material quality and fire safety.

In the 20th century, heavy equipment, elevators, cranes, and prefabrication expanded construction capabilities and the way various materials could be used. Eventually, computer-aided design allowed for more precise material development, production, and selection. In the late 20th century, sustainability became a higher priority in the construction industry, with resource conservation, environmental protection, and reduced energy consumption being top goals.

Future of Building Materials

We’re now in an age of computer-enabled smart appliances, lighting, security, and more, but modern building materials are also shaping the home construction industry. Numerous types of materials are in development that will continue to revolutionize construction.

One of these is solar panels. Increased efficiency and reduced costs have made solar panels more popular. By May 2019, more than two million solar systems had been installed in the United States, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.2 They save on energy costs and come with perks such as federal and local tax incentives and the option to sell power back to the grid.

House Rooftop with Solar Panel

Numerous advanced materials are now raising the potential for changes unlike anything seen in the past. These futuristic developments include:

  • Self-healing concrete: Bacteria in the mixture produce calcite when exposed to water, which can essentially heal cracks, reducing maintenance and greenhouse gases associated with repair and replacement processes.
  • Light-generating concrete: Tiny glass balls embedded in the material reflect light to potentially create signage, underground lighting, and warning signs. It is non-flammable and may have artistic uses as well.
  • 3D Graphene: A carbon that is 3D-printed and 200 times stronger than steel, despite being just 5% as dense, it has potential uses in vehicles and supertall skyscrapers.
  • Laminated timber: This is a water-resistant, high-strength prefabricated timber that is strong enough for building skyscrapers, while significantly reducing carbon emissions.
  • Modular bamboo: Fast-growing and low-cost, modular bamboo can be made into different shapes. It is earthquake-resistant and can be reinforced with steel bars.
  • Transparent aluminum: This is a corrosion-resistant ceramic alloy that can resist radiation and oxidation, with potential uses for windows and marine and space vehicle domes.
  • Translucent wood: Stripped of its color, this wood offers good insulating properties and strength. It may be a viable replacement for window glass and could be used as solar panel cells.
  • Wool brick: Stronger than conventional brick, this material is fused with wool and seaweed polymer, reducing greenhouse gases. It also resists cold-air intrusion.

Concrete Molding

These materials and others promise to make buildings stronger, safer, and more efficient than ever before. Building materials continue to not only evolve but take new forms. Yet one thing’s for sure: Concrete isn’t going out of style. Concrete driveways, patios, and sidewalks must be maintained, and Cross Construction Services is here to help.

Let Us Install and Repair Your Concrete Driveway

Our concrete professionals can install, maintain, and replace your concrete driveway or patio, as well as provide complete design/build services. If you have a concrete driveway in Houston, we install 3,000 psi concrete, apply polyurethane sealants or polymer-based cement resurfacers, and fix stained, cracked, or crumbled concrete. We provide service to residential and commercial customers via six locations in the Houston area. To learn more or receive a free estimate, call 713-254-1703.


  1. https://www.nachi.org/history-of-concrete.htm#ixzz31V47Zuuj
  2. https://www.seia.org/news/united-states-surpasses-2-million-solar-installations

The Different Uses of Concrete in Construction

Concrete is the world’s most versatile building material, its earliest forms finding use since the time of Romans. While most people easily associate concrete with home foundations and sidewalks, some people are often surprised to find concrete used in places they wouldn’t expect.

Why is concrete used in so many different projects? The answer to this question lies in concrete’s versatility and many benefits for construction applications.

Benefits of Using Concrete

Man Walking on Concrete

Concrete offers several unique advantages over other building materials—even bricks and other types of masonry.

Low Cost

Compared to many other materials used for load-bearing construction (such as steel), concrete and concrete-based cement are both inexpensive and economical. This benefit is due not only to the lower cost of materials but also the lower cost of labor involved; pouring and forming concrete, while still a skill best left to professionals, is typically far less labor-intensive than welding steel.

Highly Customizable

Since concrete starts as a liquid, it can take the form of almost any mold or container. As a result, concrete is easy to mold into almost any shape, making it the perfect application for intricate facades or custom designs. This capability also lowers costs even further, where reproducing the same shapes through other materials (such as stone) would be costly and labor-intensive.

Low Maintenance

Once it’s set, concrete requires little to no maintenance over its lifetime, nor does it require any protective coating or finishing. Typically, concrete only ever needs maintenance in areas worn down over time, such as the corners of concrete steps. Even then, concrete can still keep its form for many decades—if not centuries!

Fire Resistance and Durability

Both wood and metal are easily damaged by fire; wood burns and metal can weaken under heat, both of which can lead to structural failure. By contrast, concrete is almost completely fire- and heat-proof, being capable of withstanding temperatures over 1600 degrees Fahrenheit.

Concrete stands up to the other elements, too: Where wood and metal easily corrode when exposed to water, concrete does not. As a result, concrete has become a favorite material for many marine applications, also having the benefit of being resistant to high winds.

Uses of Concrete in Construction

Concrete Building

Thanks to its many benefits, concrete has become a favorite material for many construction projects. Here are just a few of the construction applications that can benefit from the durability and low cost of concrete:

Driveways and Patios

Concrete is quickly becoming a favorite material for home patios and driveways.

For patios, concrete offers the benefit of a single, smooth surface requiring little labor, whereas a backyard patio built with traditional masonry would otherwise require extensive masonry and leveling. Plus, concrete patios can still achieve the custom-masonry look through the clever use of stone veneers.

Concrete also offers unique advantages for driveways. Most driveways through the United States are paved with either asphalt or gravel, but these materials are slowly falling out of favor; asphalt driveways need replacement about every decade or so, while gravel driveways need annual (if not semi-annual) releveling.

Concrete driveways, on the other hand, offer long-term durability and increased wear resistance compared to asphalt and gravel.


While the white picket fence might remain the favorite of suburban America, urban areas tend to prefer sturdier materials. As a result, concrete has become a popular fencing material for many larger projects, especially for projects already using concrete in other areas.

Fencing also benefits from concrete’s design flexibility, especially where large-scale, urban fencing projects might include sculptures or other geometric features.


Concrete is the most common material for home foundations in the United States, and for good reason: Its durability, water resistance, and load-bearing capabilities make it the ideal solution for (literally) supporting any house.

However, concrete is also used for larger foundations, such as those of skyscrapers and other massive structures. In these cases, concrete is usually reinforced with steel wire to improve longevity and flexibility under stress.

Sidewalks and Streets

Think of the last sidewalk you walked on: There’s a good chance it was made out of concrete. While concrete has long been the favorite material for paving city sidewalks, many cities are starting to use concrete to pave roads as well.

Concrete benefits roads just as it does driveways; where asphalt roads need relatively frequent replacement and are less environmentally friendly, concrete roads offer both longer lifespans and increased durability. These benefits are compounded in warmer climates, where consistent temperatures help minimize wear caused by season changes.

Parking Lots

Parking lots receive a lot of wear over their lifespan, especially when compared to other paving applications; where roads and driveways benefit from cars (usually) going in just one direction, parking lots have the added stress of frequent turns, changing speeds, constant braking, and pedestrian traffic.

As a result, parking lots might stand to benefit the most from concrete than other paving applications, especially if frequent asphalt replacement temporarily displaces business.


Concrete’s easy forming, high durability, and low cost have also made it a favorite building material for low- to mid-rise construction projects. Where many mixed-material buildings require specialized construction and extended labor, concrete buildings are built quickly and easily. Plus, concrete buildings are far more resistant to fire and other damage than buildings made from mixed materials.


Dams require a combination of high strength and water resistance over large areas—these requirements make concrete perfect for the job, especially considering concrete’s comparatively lower cost.

Concrete is the preferred material for the vast majority of dams and hydroelectric facilities throughout the world (perhaps except for beaver dams). One famous example is the Hoover Dam, which used 3,250,000 cubic yards of concrete—enough to pave a two-lane highway from New York to San Francisco!


While bridge surfaces need to remain flexible, their support structures—such as pillars—need to remain sturdy and rigid. As a result, bridges both large and small utilize concrete for numerous support applications, including support pillars, surrounding structures, and foundations.


While not the most glamorous example, modern sewer systems are among the most common applications of concrete. Where older sewers often required complex, labor-intensive masonry, modern sewers benefit from the flexibility and durability of concrete.

Concrete also allows sewer systems to be built modularly, allowing for increased construction and design flexibility.


Docks and other marine applications utilize concrete for its durability and corrosion resistance. Concrete is also frequently used as an underwater anchoring material for moorings, oil rigs, and other non-concrete marine structures.

Ancient Rome

Contractors Paving Concrete

While maybe not the most practical example, the Ancient Romans used concrete extensively in their buildings; in fact, the Ancient Romans are often credited for inventing concrete, with “Roman concrete” still being studied for its incredible durability. One of the most famous concrete structures in Ancient Rome is the Pantheon, which has a 2,000-year-old unsupported concrete dome that still stands as both the largest and oldest today.

Finding a Concrete Contractor

Concrete may not be as labor-intensive as other materials, but it still requires a professional team to pour and shape properly. Improperly set, concrete is easily prone to cracking and crumbling, which can quickly lead to structural failure and expensive damages.

Thankfully, we’re here to help! To learn more about how concrete can benefit your project, call Cross Construction Services at 713-254-1703.

Why We Use Cement in Concrete

The terms concrete and cement are often interchanged to mean the same thing—like concrete driveways. However, concrete and cement are not the same things. They are completely different materials and serve different purposes.

What Is Cement?

Cement is an ingredient used in making concrete. Cement is a mixture of clay and limestone. Both are heated to very high temperatures and then ground into a fine powder. The heating process is essential to activate the chemical binding action and hydration processes found in cement.

If you were simply to grind up hardened clay and limestone, you would not get the same results. While you would have a fine powder, it would not have the same results as you get by heating these materials to very high temperatures.

  • Fun Fact: To activate the chemical properties of cement, clay and limestone must be heated to at least 2,642 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cement Powder

What Is Concrete?

Concrete is a mixture of different materials that consists of mixing aggregates together with water. Aggregates can consist of using sand, gravel, ground brick powder, stones, pebbles, and cement. The aggregates used will determine how strong the concrete is and what it can be used for.

For instance, if you were to mix sand, gravel, and ground brick powder together, you would get a cement mixture that could be used to make paving tiles, but they would not be as strong as a concrete mixture that included cement. This is because cement has the special chemical binding and hydration processes ground brick powder does not.

What Else Is Cement Used for Besides Concrete?

You might be surprised to learn that cement is not just for mixing together with aggregates to make concrete. Cement can be mixed with other aggregates to make other materials too.

For instance, plaster powder, which is also called cement plaster, is made from a mixture of cement and sand. Water is then added to make plaster paste, which can be used for a variety of purposes.

Another example is mortar, commonly used in between bricks to secure them in place and hold them together. Mortar powder is made by combining lime, cement, and sand. When it is mixed with water, you get wet mortar you can spread to secure bricks together.

How Was Cement Invented?

Cement was an invention discovered by Joseph Aspdin, a bricklayer from the U.K. He had been experimenting with different materials to try to develop an “artificial” stone that was as strong as the Portland stone. Then, sometime in the 1820s, he heated clay and limestone together and then crushed it into a powder.

He used this powder and mixed it with various aggregates, essentially also discovering the modern mortar and plaster that we still use today. He also discovered that, with the right mixture of water, sand, gravel, and cement, he had a concrete material that would continue to strengthen as it hardened and aged.

The cement he invented came to be known as Portland cement. Some people assume this is a brand name or business name. However, it is just one type of cement that just so happens to be one of the most widely used, even today.

How Many Types of Cement Are There?

There are multiple types of cement and various cement categories used, depending on the manufacturer. Some of the different types of cement include:

  • Portland Cement
  • Pozzolana Portland Cement
  • Quick Drying Cement
  • Quick Hardening Cement
  • White Cement
  • Expansive Cement
  • Colored Cement

What makes each cement mixture different is the type of materials used in its composition. Additionally, over the years, gypsum powder has become commonly used in cement. Gypsum helps regulate the hardening and curing time for cement by slowing it down.

This is ideal when large amounts of concrete are made for large construction projects. The gypsum helps to keep the concrete wet and workable for much longer. Without the gypsum, the chemical binding and hydration processes start immediately. With the gypsum, the chemical processes are slowed down.

Why Is Water Mixed into Cement?

Men Shoveling Concrete

Mixing water into cement is necessary to start the chemical binding and hydration processes. The cement powder dissolves, and the chemical reactions start, which releases silicon and calcium ions. These ions spread throughout the wet cement and form a film around other materials. As the cement dries, the chemical reactions continue.

Essentially, the film creates an added binding layer, which strengthens as it hardens. The process doesn’t stop right away, either. While at the surface level it might look like the cement has hardened in a matter of days, at the chemical level it is continuing to harden for months to years, depending on what materials the cement is mixed with, the ratio of cement, and other such factors.

Why Is Cement Important in Construction?

Cement is a vital component that is used to make concrete. Without it, concrete would not be as strong. Concrete driveways would not last as long as they do without cement.

Buildings would not be able to use concrete supports and columns with metal rebar if it wasn’t for cement. Instead, the entire support and column structures would need to be made from steel.

Mixing cement into concrete also helps make the material easier to work with and use. It can be spread, smoothed, and even shaped like concrete blocks. Thanks to the continued chemical binding and hydration processes in cement, the concrete continues to also strengthen with time.

What Are Some of the Advantages of Using Concrete?

When you are considering different types of construction materials to use for driveways, parking lots, and buildings, concrete offers many advantages, which can make it the perfect solution.

Men Building Concrete Roads

  1. Concrete can be poured and shaped. You can use it to make patio pavers, flowerpots, support columns, and so on, just by pouring it into a mold with the desired shape.
  2. Concrete can be stamped and imprinted with designs. You can stamp or imprint different images and text into wet concrete that will set and become permanent once the concrete cures.
  3. Concrete is an affordable material. The costs of concrete are much lower than other types of materials like steel or asphalt.
  4. Concrete is eco-friendly. Concrete is made from natural materials readily found all around us.
  5. Concrete is recyclable. Concrete can be recycled and reused an endless number of times.
  6. Concrete is water-resistant. Once the concrete sets and cures, it resists water. This makes it perfect for underwater applications like swimming pools, dams, waterways, bridges, etc.
  7. Concrete requires little to no maintenance. Once the concrete is set and cured, there is not much else to do. You will want to get the concrete sealed when it is used for outdoor applications like a residential concrete driveway. Other than hosing it off to keep it clean and resealing it periodically, not much else needs to be done.
  8. Concrete is resistant to high temperatures. One reason concrete is used in building construction is its ability to withstand high temperatures much better than steel or wood, which is an important fire safety consideration.

Hopefully, now you can see why cement is used in concrete and why it makes such a great choice for commercial and residential concrete driveways, parking lots, and building construction.

For all your concrete residential and commercial needs in the Great Houston Area, including concrete driveways, swimming pools, sidewalks, foundations, building construction, and more, please feel free to contact Cross Construction Services at 713-254-1703 today!

We are a full-service operation and offer custom design and build services, construction management services, patio room design, pergola construction, and more! No project is too big or too small.

The Most Common Building Materials Used in Construction

Cross Construction Services specializes in the design-build process and using concrete for driveways, patios, pergolas, and parking lots. Concrete is just one of many different materials used in construction. Many residential and commercial clients benefit from concrete driveway construction, but there are other materials, including wood, metal, and brick, with their own unique benefits. Here is a look at the most common building materials and what makes each appealing.


Home Construction

Wood offers the benefits of being natural and sustainable. When trees or fibrous plants are cut and used for construction, they can be regrown. Wood is still one of the most desirable modern building materials, though it’s been used for thousands of years.

In fact, wood can be used for just about any type of structure, in most climates. It is also:

  • Flexible even under heavy loads
  • Strong, even with bending and vertical compression
  • Available with different qualities, depending on tree species

Wood has even been used as logs in unprocessed form, cut to length and notched or latched to keep them in position. With tools and mass production, lumber can be tailored to practically any type of job.


Steel Alloy

Steel is an alloy, mainly composed of iron, that is strong and flexible. If properly refined and treated, it can resist corrosion and last for a very long time. Metal suits a diverse range of construction applications. It may be used for external surfaces or as supporting structural elements for skyscrapers.

There are different types of metal used. Aluminum alloys are less dense and more resistant to corrosion. Tin is an alternative that can save on costs. Titanium, more expensive than steel, can accommodate structural applications. Gold, silver, and chrome are more commonly used to produce decorative elements found in custom construction projects. However, they lack the hardness and strength required for structural use.


Man Creating Brick Wall

Bricks have been used since the 1700s. Compared to wood, they are more flame-retardant, which is why bricks were often preferred for construction in the 1800s and 1900s. They’re also relatively inexpensive to produce, which also contributed to the popularity of brick construction in cities.

Different materials can be used to produce brick. Clay bricks are manufactured by molding soft mud or extruding clay through a die and using a wire-cutting process to cut them to size. In the late 20th century, clay bricks were replaced by cinder blocks made of concrete. Sandcrete block is lower in cost, although not as strong and durable, but it is more often used in developing countries.


Glass Skyscraper

Glass has been around for thousands of years and was used for making vessels and other objects in Mesopotamia. In Europe, glass windows have been manufactured since as early as the 14th century. In general, glass is brittle and not suited to provide structural support.

However, it is often used to create decorative windows with various design features. Glass is ideal for letting in natural light and keeping out the elements. In larger installations, glass can be the primary material for an exterior wall or façade. Sometimes it encompasses the entire facade of a building. Glass can be integrated into large roof structures as well.


Cemented Ground

Plastic is highly adaptable and, thus, varies in hardness, resiliency, and heat tolerance. Lightweight and uniform in composition, plastics can be used in various applications, from panels or sheets to cables, coverings, and pipes, to films and fibers. Plastic decking is used to replace lumber but can be manufactured with very similar aesthetics while being more resistant to the elements.

Whether made from raw or recycled materials, plastic can be molded or extruded into various forms. There’s a high degree of variability in what plastic is. It can be produced from synthetic or semi-synthetic organic products. Common types of plastic include polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and polystyrene (PS). The ability to recycle plastic from other forms, including discarded waste, make it a desirable material for sustainable construction.

Cement Composites

Residential Home

Precast building components can be produced by using a hydrated cement paste that binds to wood or other natural fibers. Materials in organic wood compounds such as carbohydrates or glycosides can impede setting but there are various ways to measure the hydration characteristics of a cement-aggregate mix. Assessment of mechanical properties and microstructural elements is necessary before using the mix in any project.

Cement hydration is the most important property of a cement mixture. Studies have shown that considering the time and temperature of the hydration reaction best helps to gauge viability. Cement composites may not be best for home driveway construction, but below we’ll discuss a material that we know is.


Residential Concrete Driveway

Made of cement used as a binder and an aggregate, concrete is a hard stone-like material that can be strengthened with steel rods or bars. The concrete-setting process has been refined and often involves using a vibrator to eliminate air bubbles that can weaken the material. Concrete is preferred for its:

  • Durability: Concrete can last for many decades and is resistant to erosion, weathering, and abuse. It also requires little maintenance, while repairs are often few and far between. Also, it tolerates year-round temperature swings.
  • Safety: Concrete does not burn, attract mold or mildew, rot, or emit volatile organic compounds. It doesn’t introduce airborne pollutants, while high structural integrity and protection against severe weather and earthquakes are desirable properties.
  • Economy: Concrete contributes to energy efficiency when used as a building material. Its thermal mass enables it to capture thermal energy, while reflectivity contributes to efficiency too. Therefore, a residential concrete driveway isn’t the only application this building material option can be used for.
  • Sustainability: Producing little waste, concrete can be made in any quantity needed and is recyclable. Portland limestone cement, a common form of concrete, can reduce CO2 emissions. Concrete can also contribute to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Call Cross Construction Services for Long-Lasting Driveway Installation

Finished Residential Concrete Driveway

A leader in custom construction services in Houston, our company has six local offices, so you can easily find home driveway construction contractors near you. We specialize in both design and construction, allowing timely cost-saving service and ensuring a single point of contact. An established contractor, we provide concrete driveway installation, repair, and leveling services. Contact us today to help make your vision a reality, starting with a free, no-obligation estimate.