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Can You Use Substitute Aggregates For A Project?

The use of aggregate is common across a wide range of construction, engineering, and renovation projects. You might wonder if it's possible to make substitutions between different types, though. For example, maybe you can't find your desired aggregate for sale. Here are some reasons you may or may not do this.

Load-Bearing Needs

Unless you've had the chance to discuss the substitution options with an engineer, it's almost always a bad idea to swap out aggregate materials. The reason is that seemingly similar aggregates can have very different characteristics.

This is especially the case when the materials have to support a load. If you're planning to use aggregate to amend the soil and provide a base for a heavy structure, for example, the materials could compress more or less than needed. That may throw all of your measurements off. Worse, if you level the area to make up the difference, you might get a greater amount of compression down the road.

Decorative Work

Presuming a feature is 100% decorative, you might be able to get away with purchasing whatever a supplier has for aggregate for sale. If you're mixing it into decorative concrete, though, be aware that it may change the appearance of the feature. For example, a coarser aggregate might not provide as smooth and refined of a look as a sandy one would. Similarly, there could be chipping and cracking issues if the selected aggregate isn't able to hold the entire structure together.

Historical Structures

It's unwise to use any materials that aren't approved for a historical project. First, you might end up with issues matching the original appearance. Second, there are may be structural problems when you try to apply something like concrete to a surface. Finally, local, state, or federal regulations governing the historical nature of the building might prohibit anything unapproved.

Why Are There Potential Problems?

Aggregates are designed to be mixed with other materials to produce a particular result. These range from the fairly simple, such as cement, to the highly complex, such as engineered soils for supporting heavy and large buildings.

Under the worst circumstances, the risks associated with getting the mixture wrong are potentially dramatic. Even under the best circumstances, a different aggregate might shorten the life of a structure or surface. Unless an engineer has thoroughly reviewed and approved the decision to make a substitution, it's usually best to not do it on the fly. Get the right aggregate for the job, even if it means paying more.

About Me

Making Your Remodel Easier

Years ago, my wife and I had our home remodeled and experienced a lot of difficulties. We didn't plan as well as we should have, and we ended up changing our minds quite a bit and causing a lot of delays and extra costs. We were also trying to live in the house during the remodel, which made life pretty stressful for us, and probably for our contractors, too. When we decided that we were going remodel again this year, I wanted things to be different. I took what I learned from all of the things that went wrong the last time, and set about doing things differently this time. The results were amazing. We're so much happier with this remodel. I decided to put what I learned about smooth home remodeling into a blog so that others could learn from our mistakes and successes.

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