An Introduction To Aggregates

The likelihood is, unless you work in the building or construction industry, you may be unfamiliar with aggregates. However, if you peep your head outside the front door, almost everything you see involves aggregates.This includes streets, roads and pavements; the aggregates working as a glue which bind structural foundations together. In most cases, aggregates are made up from large quantities of concrete, but it may surprise you that various forms of aggregates compromise dozens of day to day items.

Many household items such as cleaning products, medicine, and fertilizers are formed from an aggregate-type substance.Taking this into consideration, ‘aggregate’ is a pretty broad term. So what is this versatile material and what else is it used for?

What is an aggregate?

60% to 75% of concrete’s volume is formed of aggregate. It is an amalgamation of rocks, ranging from gravel to sand, forming a majority portion of the final concrete product. It’s crucial to the mixture, and the properties of aggregate have a big impact on the final specs of concrete.

The shape and size:

To make the necessary concrete blend, it’s required that you make sure the aggregates are clean and do not contain any toxic chemicals or clay. In addition to this, size and shape are also important. Quality concretes contain a range of sizes which will determine the amount of cement and water that is needed in the process. This also determines the workability and the end product’s durability. A jagged aggregate with a rigid edge makes up a mixture that needs less fluid to get the desired outcome. Although the variance in the types of aggregate seems insignificant, the attributes of an aggregate really impact the quality and properties of aggregate.

Types of aggregate:


This type of aggregate is the most feasible option for high grade concrete, this is due to the fact it comes in many colours and varieties. It can also be used for decorative purposes for a driveway or garden. Granite itself is composed of quartz and mica crystals which determine the colour of the rock.


Limestone aggregates are made through the breaking down of sedimentary rock. This type is most commonly used for road construction.

Gravel aggregates

Gravel aggregates are sourced through a process of straining rock and smashing up pieces of stone. Gravel doesn’t possess as much strength as granite, but it’s cheaper to purchase in most cases. Another positive factor of gravel is that is has decreased radioactive content. This type of aggregate is often used for making foundations and concretes, making the reinforced materials suited to road construction.

Secondary aggregates

These are created as a lower cost alternative to limestone and granite – around half the price, however, they are significantly less strong. Secondary aggregates do possess a wide range of uses including road construction, reinforcing weak soils and as a large scale filler. Sand is also classified as a secondary form of aggregate and provides bulk and solidity to materials like concrete. It’s also often used for decorative purposes.

Here at BNH, we supply a range of aggregates and materials for the groundworks and civil engineering sector. These are available for delivery in large or smaller loose loads and in 1 tonne dumpy bags to suit your requirements. To find out more about the services that we offer, get in touch with us today.

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