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The Different Types of Concrete Admixtures and Their Applications

Concrete is something many see so often that they may not realise the intricacies that go into laying it out.

In construction, having control over your building materials is essential, both in terms of efficiently using time and getting the desired results.

Admixtures are an essential component of any concrete-based project. They help alter the characteristics of your concrete mixture to a version best suited to your working method and desired results. By altering the concrete properties, your concreting task will become easier, saving you time, energy, and money.

Illawarra Industrial Supplies specialises in providing a wide range of concrete admixtures and is here to guide you in finding the best admixture for your project.

What are Concrete Admixtures?

Admixtures are natural or manufactured chemicals that are added as an ingredient into the concrete mixture to alter the batch. Essentially, any material you add that isn’t water, cement, aggregates, or fibre reinforcement.

The purpose is to alter the concrete to better suit the project at hand. Admixtures affect the way the concrete behaves to better suit the user and their job purposes.

Admixtures have many functions and uses. Depending on what you add, you can speed up or delay the setting of the concrete, increase the durability of the final product, or reduce the chances of cracking.

They can also have shrinkage-reducing, corrosion-inhibiting, and water-proofing effects on your concrete mix.

Using the right concrete admixture can greatly improve both the construction process and the final results of your project. All the different types come with different advantages.

If you’re unsure what type of concrete admixture is best for your needs, our expert team is happy to offer advice.

worker looking at quality of concrete

Types of Concrete Admixtures

Water-Reducing Admixtures

Also known as plasticisers, this type of admixture lives up to its name by removing trapped water from the concrete and improving hydration to increase slump and workability. This water reduction will increase the overall strength of your concrete and lead to lower permeability.


Superplasticisers (sometimes called SPs or high-range water reducers) are used to create high-strength, high-performance concrete. The impact of superplasticisers is an increase in the overall workability of your concrete by changing the water-cement ratio.

Ideal for increasing strength development in your concrete, superplasticizers are added to create high-performance concrete which is used in high-rise buildings, bridges, dams, and other structures that need extra strength.

Accelerating Admixtures

Accelerator admixtures are added to speed up the setting process. They’re most used in cold weather to help avoid delays, which can add to costs and waste labour time. By accelerating the setting time, they help ensure your ability to meet deadlines and make a difference in keeping your project moving forward.

For the opposite effect, you should use retarders to slow down the setting or hardening process.

Retarding Admixtures

Retarding admixtures are the opposite of accelerating admixtures as they are designed to slow down the setting time of concrete.

These are commonly used in hot weather to prevent the concrete from setting before placing and finishing is complete.

They are also used for more complex projects where concrete needs to remain at a certain consistency while further work is completed. Usually, a retarding admixture will delay the setting time by 1–3 hours. However, you should check the instructions as each brand is different.

Air-Entraining Admixtures

Air entrainment admixtures will incorporate air bubbles within the concrete mixture. The purpose of this is to improve the freeze-thaw resistance of the concrete.

Air-entraining admixture is useful for buildings and infrastructure that are frequently exposed to harsh weather conditions, helping the final product survive in extreme temperatures.

It’s important to note that it can result in a weakening of the overall strength of the concrete.

Waterproofing Admixtures

Waterproofing admixtures are key to making concrete waterproof. Moisture can be incredibly damaging to concrete, leading to cracking and serious structural damage.

Once added, the admixture will fill the microspaces found throughout the concrete, thereby creating a stronger barrier against water content.

Waterproofing admixtures are used in a wide range of projects including home foundations, basements, swimming pools, and other water-retaining structures.

concrete slab with crane work

Benefits of Using Concrete Admixtures

Improved workability and ease of placement: Admixtures can improve the usability of your concrete mix, making the job of placement easier for your team.

Enhanced strength and durability: People use concrete because it’s seen as a long-lasting, durable material. Admixtures can improve the strength of your concrete by adapting it to suit the surrounding environment.

Better resistance to environmental factors: Whether it’s high moisture or extreme temperatures, admixtures can provide your concrete with better resistance to the conditions.

Cost savings and efficiency in construction projects: Admixtures provide contractors with more control, helping to prevent mistakes and create more durable products. This equals both short and long-term savings.

How to Choose the Right Admixture for Your Project

Using the right concrete admixture can greatly improve the workability of your concrete mixes and lead to a better final product. Admixtures can help save time, improve the durability and effectiveness of your structure, and help enhance desirable elements of your concrete to suit the environment.

The key to finding and choosing the right admixture is to consider the specific outcomes needed for your project. Think about your infrastructure requirements and the environmental conditions your structure will need to withstand.

Even if this information doesn’t make the right admixture readily apparent, it’s still valuable. Giving your supplier or expert as many details as you can about your project is a huge help to them in finding the right admixture for you.

workers gathered to pour concrete

Choose Illawarra Industrial Supplies for Your Concrete Admixtures Needs

Our expert team knows how to help you find the best concrete admixture for your requirements to ensure the best results for your project. For coatings, construction, landscaping, and waterproofing products, Illawarra Industrial Supplies is the name to remember.

As one of the largest independent suppliers in the Illawarra, South Coast, Far South Coast, and Highland areas, we stock the top brands and have over 130 years of combined experience.

We pride ourselves on our quality products, customer service, and expert advice on effectively using anything we sell. Our team not only supplies a wide range of trusted, high-quality products, we’ve got the know-how to help you use them.

Whatever project you’re about to tackle or the problems you need to solve, Illawarra Industrial Supplies can help with choosing the best concrete admixture to help with the construction process and improve the durability of your infrastructure.

To purchase construction supplies or for more advice or recommendations on your next project, contact us today!

  • Australasian Corrosion Association
  • Association for Materials Protection and Performance
  • Illawarra Innovative Industry Network
  • NACE International
  • The Society of Protective Coatings