Widely used as a pavement base for pipe bedding, slope protection, and road construction, low-cost soil cement is the material of choice for contractors across the nation.
Soil cement is a simple, highly compacted mixture of soil, aggregate, cement, and water. It’s advantages of great strength and durability combine with low first cost to make it an outstanding pavement solution.
The material in soil cement can be almost any combination of sand, silt, clay, gravel, or crushed stone. Granular materials – including slag, lime rock, and waste materials like fly ash, foundry sands, and screenings from quarries and gravel pits – can be used. Even old granular-based roads can be reclaimed to make great soil cement.
Advantages of Low-cost Soil Cement
There are several economic and environmental benefits of using soil cement, including:
- Low first cost – The cost of soil cement compares favorably with that of granular-base pavement. When built for equal load carrying capacity, soil cement is typically less expensive. Economy is achieved through the use or reuse of in-place or nearby borrow material – eliminating costly hauling of expensive granular materials.
- Fast construction – Modern methods and equipment make soil cement processing simple and efficient. Mixed material is hauled to the paving site, compacted, finished to grade, and cured. There is no mellowing period, weather delays are rare, and reworking of completed section is unnecessary.
- Recycling of existing materials – Failing granular-base pavements – with or without old bituminous mats – can be salvaged, strengthened, and reclaimed as soil cement pavement.
- Stiffness – The stiffness of soil cement distributes loads over a wider area, reducing subgrade stresses and allowing the base to maintain its original grade for many years without costly resurfacing or repairs.
Soil Cement Construction
There are four steps to making low-cost soil cement: mixing, spreading, compacting, and curing. To achieve high quality, uniform soil cement mixtures, RWC Equipment Leasing recommends using a portable central mixing plant. Once a homogenous mixture is achieved, the soil cement can be loaded into trucks, hauled to the paving site, and spread on the prepared subgrade, and compacted. Curing – the final step of the construction process – prevents evaporation of water to ensure maximum strength development through cement hydration. A light coat of bituminous material is commonly used to prevent moisture loss.
Soil Cement Performance
Soil cement is a rigid material that distributed loads over broad areas. Its slab-like characteristics and beam strength are unmatched by granular bases. Hard, rigid soil cement resists cyclic cold, rain, and spring-thaw damage. Specimens take from older roads show that strength of soil cement increase with age – some specimens were four times as strong as test specimens made when the roads were first open.
Contractors praise the performance of low-cost soil cement for its long life and high strength. Soil cement is constructed quickly and easily – a quality appreciated by builders and users alike.
If you’re using low-cost soil cement for your next pavement project, consider the benefits of leasing or renting a high-volume, portable central mixing plant from RWC Equipment Leasing. For more information, call Bobby Carroll at (561) 400-3204.