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Specifying low w/c

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I just got through doing a speech on the fallacies of specifying a low water-cement ratio. I realized afterward that I had never asked an engineer WHY he specified a low w/c. Like most materials people, I assumed it was a combination of "if a low w/c is good, then a lower w/c is better" and a desire to obtain better durability (which can often be obtained through better methods than an extremely low w/c).

So I'm asking the question: "Why specify a w/c below 0.40 if it is not needed for strength purposes?"

About the only other reason I can come up with is to increase the rigidity/reduce creep of a structure, but that also might be better accomplished through other means than a low w/c.

Jay Shilstone

James M. Shilstone, Jr., FACI                 jay2003.shilstone(--nospam--at)
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