Continuing with our coverage on value-added products from cement, we explore a few more such products which are currently available, and their market potential.
Construction products depend on naturally occurring materials. But in the years to come, the availability of natural materials will become a major problem. However, ready-to-use mortars consume less of natural materials; these products have a very good scope in the years to come.
Generally there has been an age-old practice to make any cement-based product at site, may it be plaster mortar, repair mortar or adhesives for fixing tiles. These site-made products lack in quality because these are not designed for specific applications but are derived from available cement on the location. The recently available cement-based products in the market are far superior in quality and have a good shelf life. The use of proper construction chemicals, correctly graded sand and mixing techniques make them superior. A variety of the mortars available today can be produced from the same raw materials by altering the proportion of ingredients. Even customised products can be designed for large requirements.
The manufacturers carry out quality checks at the processing stage to ensure consistency in the product. Certification from the Bureau of Indian Standards is not possible for all the products at this stage. But in the years to come, it will become a necessity.
Wall putty: All of these value-added products have their origin in wall putty. This specific product based on white cement was an instant success when it was launched. It is a product which has cement as basic material with limestone powder and chemical additives. When the product was launched, there was a need for such a product from the organised sector. Wall putty is a finely powdered material available in different packs from 1 kg to 50 kg, used to prepare a smooth surface which is required before painting. Even today, it is one of the highest-selling products. Cement companies are making handsome profits out of it.
Tile grout, tile adhesives: These are another set of mortars which have been a bit slow in getting popular compared to wall putty, but are certainly making a mark in the market now. Earlier, cement mixed with water was used to fix tiles either on the wall or floor. With the advent of different grades of cement in the market which are for specific applications, using cement paste for tile-fixing is posing many problems. Even cement companies are cautioning against the use of 53-grade cement for fixing tiles. These tile-adhesive mortars are specially created formulations with cement and some chemicals and sand for fixing tiles, and give very satisfactory results. If the cost of tiles is very high, then it makes sense to use ready made mortars for tiles. There are grouts for filling the gaps between tiles available off the shelf.
Micro-concrete and non-shrink grouts: There is a specific need for repair materials. The properties expected from the product are very different from the parent material. Repair mortars are supposed to deliver extremely high strength in a short span of time, so that the repair job can be done fast and the damaged structure can be put to service quickly. These materials are also a mixture of sand, cement and properly selected chemicals. There is an extension of repair mortars, called ´non-shrinking grouts.´ These are materials used for anchoring the bolts of foundations or even for laying new foundations. Normally for a foundation, the material which does not shrink is used and normal concrete has a tendency to shrink.
Floor hardeners: Certain industries, which experience the rapid wear and tear of floors because of a specific usage, are going in for a special kind of floor. These are industrial units like auto mobile factories, warehouses, etc. where a suitable design of floor is required. For customised applications, floor hardeners are selected and the jobs are carried out by qualified contractors. The results have been found to be very satisfactory.
Gradually, we will see more and more of such products coming into the market with specific applications. However, their success will depend on education of the end user and the product price.