Polymers in Cementitious Materials

By M. Miller

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The construction industry increasingly requires products that are cost effective and easy to use, to enable fast track application whilst achieving a high physical performance. Incorporating a polymer in a cementitious mix brings key advantages, particularly in terms of workability, abrasion and impact resistance, with the resulting physical and chemical properties dependent upon the nature of the polymer material and the quantity used in relation to the cement phase.

This Rapra Handbook is intended to provide an insight into the uses of polymers within the construction industry. It describes the conception of polymer-modified cementitious materials through to the array of polymer-based or polymer-modified material utilised in modern day construction.

It not only covers the use of polymers in direct combination with cement but polymer concrete, impregnation of polymers into the concrete substrate and other polymer-based products, (i.e., coatings and adhesives). Both natural and synthetic polymers are reviewed.

This book is aimed at all those who are working with cement, and also at anyone who needs more information about this most versatile of materials, offering insight into:


  • the common polymers used in cementitious materials
  • polymer concrete
  • polymer Portland cement concrete
  • reinforcement using synthetic fibres
  • adhesives and coatings

    About the author...
    After graduating with a 2.1 Honours Chemistry degree, Michelle Miller undertook a Ph.D. at University of Salford and the University of Keele, UK, researching cementitious chemistry. Michelle worked as Senior Chemist at Armorex Ltd (now known as Sika-armorex), and subsequently at Huntsman Advanced Materials as a Senior Development Chemist formulating epoxy and polyurethane products for the adhesive and tooling industries. Her particular area of expertise is in the design of tooling products for use within the wind and marine industries resulting in the formulation a number of commercially available products for these applications.

  • 1 History of Cementitious and Polymer Technology and their Unison
    1.1 Introduction
    1.2 The Introduction of Polymer into Cementitious Materials
    1.2.1 The Basic Advantages of Mixing Polymers with Cementitious Materials
    1.3 The History of Cement
    1.3.1 Basic Principles of the Cement Manufacture
    1.3.2 A Summary of the Hydration of Portland Cement
    1.4 History of Polymers
    1.4.1 The Introduction of Polymers into Cementitious Materials
    1.4.2 Brief Summary of the Physical Properties of Polymer Modified Cementitious Materials
    1.5 Concluding Statement

    2 Common Polymers used in the Formation of Concrete and Cementitious Products
    2.1 Introduction
    2.2 Summary of the Manufacture and Chemical Composition of a Number of Polymers Commonly used to Modify Concrete and Cementitious Materials
    2.2.1 Cellulose
    2.2.2 Natural Rubber (NR)
    2.2.3 Polyvinyl Acetates (PVA)
    2.2.4 Copolymers of Vinyl Acetate/Ethylene
    2.2.5 Acrylic Polymers
    2.2.6 Styrene-Butadiene Rubber
    2.2.7 Chloroprene
    2.2.8 Polyvinylidene Chloride
    2.2.9 Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (NBR)
    2.2.10 Epoxy Resins
    2.2.11 Polyurethanes

    3 Polymer Concrete
    3.1 Introduction
    3.2 Chemical Composition of Polymer Concrete
    3.2.1 Advantages of Thermosetting Resins
    3.2.2 Thermosetting Resins Typically Used in the Manufacture of Polymer Concrete
    3.3 Brief Introduction to Mixing and Application of Polymer Concrete
    3.3.1 Summary
    3.3.2 Mixing
    3.3.3 Aggregates
    3.3.4 Workability and Shrinkage Characteristics
    3.3.5 Voids
    3.3.6 Priming of the Substrate
    3.3.7 Mixing
    3.4 Application Techniques
    3.5 Decision Model
    3.6 Repairing Polymer Composites
    3.7 Physical Properties of Polymer Concrete
    3.7.1 Typical Strength Characteristics Observed for Polymer Concrete
    3.7.2 Bond Adhesion of Polymer Concrete to a Substrate and the Effect of Expansion and Contraction
    3.7.3 Permeability of the Polymer-Aggregate Matrix and Performance when Subjected to Varying Atmospheric and Environmental Conditions
    3.8 Common Uses of Polymer Concrete
    3.8.1 General Road and Bridge Repair
    3.8.2 Overlays and Coatings
    3.8.3 Resin Grouts and Mortars
    3.8.4 Sealants
    3.8.5 Castable Systems
    3.9 Polymer Impregnated Concrete
    3.9.1 Concrete Preparation and Impregnation Process
    3.9.2 Physical Properties
    3.9.3 Common Uses of Polymer Impregnated Concrete
    3.9.4 Disadvantages Associated with Polymer Impregnated Concrete

    4 Polymer Portland Cement Concrete
    4.1 Introduction
    4.2 Brief Summary of the Advantages of Incorporating Polymer into Cementitious Materials
    4.3 Physical Requirements of Latexes in Order to be Suitable as Cement Additives
    4.4 Polymer Emulsion
    4.4.1 Manufacture of Latex Emulsion
    4.5 Redispersible Polymer Powders
    4.5.1 Introduction
    4.5.2 Conception and Development
    4.5.3 Spray Drying Procedure
    4.5.4 Particle Size of Redispersible Polymer Powders
    4.5.5 Advantages of Adding a Redispersible Polymer Powder
    4.5.6 Rehydrating Redispersible Polymer Powders
    4.5.7 A Summary of the Various Redispersible Polymer Powders Commercially Available
    4.5.8 Typical Chemical Composition of Modern Day Redispersible Polymer Powders
    4.6 The Formation of the Polymer Modified Cementitious Matrix
    4.7 Introduction to the Benefits of Modifying Cementitious Materials with Polymer Dispersions
    4.7.1 Acrylics
    4.7.2 Styrene Acrylics
    4.7.3 Vinyl Acetate Ethylene Co-Polymers
    4.7.4 Styrene Butadiene Rubber Co-Polymer
    4.7.5 Epoxies
    4.8 A Summary of the Effect of Polymer Modifying Cementitious Materials
    4.8.1 Water Demand
    4.8.2 Bleed Water
    4.8.3 Workability
    4.8.4 Stability
    4.8.5 Voids
    4.8.6 Drying Characteristics
    4.8.7 Strength Characteristics
    4.8.8 Influence of Application Method upon the Strength Characteristics of Polymer Modified Cementiti

    Rapra Technology, 2005
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