What is Polymer Concrete? Uses, properties, pros/cons, and ingredients of Polymer Concrete

Articles > What is Polymer Concrete? Uses, properties, pros/cons, and ingredients of Polymer Concrete

What is Polymer Concrete?

The polymer concrete was introduced in 1950 and became common by the end of the 1970s. It is a type of concrete, in which polymers are used as a binding material instead of cement. The lime-type cement is replaced in this type of concrete. The polymer resin is used with or without the Portland cement. If the polymer concrete is made only with the polymer resins, it is known as Polymer Cement Concrete, if the polymer resin is mixed with ordinary cement, then the mixture is known as Polymer Modified Concrete. The use of the polymers in concrete has been supervised by Committee-548 of the “Concrete Institute of USA”, since 1971. Most commonly used polymers used in concrete are Furan Resins, Acrylics and Styrene-Acrylics, Vinyl Acetate-Ethylene (VAE), Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA), Styrene-Butadiene Resin (SBR), Methyl Methacrylate MMA, Styrene and Polyester Styrene, Methanol Resin, Epoxy Resins, Poly Urethane Resins (PUR), Urea Formaldehyde Resin and so forth.

Composition of Polymer Concrete:

Polymer concrete is prepared from thermosetting resin and thermoplastic polymers. The use of the thermosetting resin is more adequate, as it is highly thermal resistant and a wide variety of chemicals. The polymer concrete is composed of polymer resin and aggregates. The polymer resin acts as the binder, while the aggregate acts as the compressive stress material. The aggregate of concrete is composed of quartz, silica, granite pebbles, limestone gravels, and other material of high compressive strength. A successful aggregate must be of good quality material, clean gravels, dust, and debris free, and dry. These criteria must be fulfilled on all accounts, failing which will put a negative impact on the binding ability of the concrete.

Different types of Polymer/Polymer Resins use in Concrete:

  1. Furan Resins
  2. Acrylics and Styrene-Acrylics
  3. Vinyl Acetate-Ethylene (VAE)
  4. Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA)
  5. Styrene-Butadiene Resin (SBR)
  6. Methyl Methacrylate MMA
  7. Styrene and Polyester Styrene
  8. Methanol
  9. Epoxy Resins
  10. Poly-Urethane Resins (PUR)
  11. Urea Formaldehyde Resin and so forth.

Preparation of Polymer Concrete:

Polymeric resin is added with the aggregate to prepare the mixture of the concrete. In order to fill the pores and cracks, the micro-fillers are also employed with the polymeric resin/concrete. The most commonly used polymers are methacrylate, polyester resin, vinyl ester resin, epoxy resin, and furan resin. Among these resins, the unsaturated polyester resin is the most common polymer resin used in concrete. The reason behind the abundant use of unsaturated polyester resin is its easy availability, low cost, and good mechanical property, and compressive strength.

Properties of Polymer Concrete:

The properties of the concrete are dependent upon the properties of aggregate, mixture, purity and cleanliness, and quality of the polymeric resin, but here we are discussing only the properties of polymeric resins, and their impact on the cost, durability, and strength.

  1. Using a polymer as a binder instead of cement is more expensive.
  2. If compared with the unreinforced Portland concrete, it has greater tensile strength, because of the strong adhesive property.
  3. The compressive strength of the polymer concrete is either similar to or greater than that of the Portland concrete.
  4. The polymer concrete is much faster curing.
  5. The curing of the concrete is automatic, it does not need care, like the pouring of water, preventing from rain, dust, and heat, etc.
  6. It has good adhesive properties, even to the surface of the reinforced structure.
  7. It is also much durable in the conditions of rapid freeze and thaw cycles.
  8. Polymer Concrete is very low permeable to water and absorptive solutions.
  9. Polymer Concrete is resistant to chemicals. It can survive chemical attacks, like that of sulfate, carbonates, oils, acid, and alkali, etc.
  10. Resistant to corrosion.
  11. Lighter in weight and less dense than the ordinary cement concrete, thus reducing the dead weight of the concrete structure.
  12. It can be vibrated to fill the pores, voids, and cracks in the structure.
  13. The polymer concrete allows the use of “form releasing agents” like Non-Silicone.
  14. It is a dielectric/ electric insulator.
  15. Polymer concrete can be applied in very thin cross-sections.
  16. Polymer concrete does not allow the intrusion of CO2, saving the concrete from carbonation.

Disadvantages of Polymer Concrete:

  1. The cost of polymer concrete is very high as compared to that of conventional concrete.
  2. The work of polymer needs high skill and precise work while mixing.
  3. The possibility of improper proportioning of two-component material higher, thus the proper mix design is needed to get even mixing of the concrete material.
  4. Working with chemicals and resins used in polymer concrete is risky, therefore, the use of mask, hand gloves, and other skin protective tools are strictly needed.

Use Cases of Polymer Concrete:

The use of polymer concrete is successful in both the new construction and the repair work. The polymer has a great adhesive property, that is why it can be used in the repair work of both the polymer concrete structure and the ordinary cement concrete structure. Moreover, due to the low permeability and corrosion resistance, it can be used in swimming pools, water tanks, sewer structures, drainage channels, and other underwater structures. The polymer concrete is also used in electrolytic cells for base metal recovery. It is especially suitable for the construction and repairing of manholes due to their invincibility before toxic and corrosive sewer gases and bacteria, which are commonly found in sewerage systems. Unlike traditional concrete structures, the PVC pipes do not need any coating and welding, because the polymer concrete, itself, acts as the welding material. The bonded wearing course for asphalt pavement can also be carried out by means of polymer concrete, for obtaining high durability and strength. Due to the lack of technical skills, and high cost, the polymer concrete could, historically, not be widely adopted. However, recent progress has led to significant reductions in cost, meaning that the use of polymer concrete is gradually becoming more widespread.

Polymer concrete is used in specialized construction projects where there is a need to resistant several types of corrosion and is supported to have durability i.e. to last-long. It can be used similarly to ordinary concrete. Polymer concrete is used in the followings works,

  1. Repair to corrosion damaged concrete
  2. Prestressed concrete
  3. Nuclear power plants
  4. Electrical or industrial construction
  5. Marine works
  6. Prefabricated structural components like acid tanks, manholes, drains, highway median barriers, and so forth.
  7. Waterproofing of structures
  8. Sewage works and desalination plants

Specifications of Polymer Concrete:



Compressive Strength

Urea Formaldehyde Polymer Concrete

2260 kg/m3

37 MPa (5,400 psi)

Polyester concrete


2050 kg/m3

95 MPa (13,800 psi)


Summary of the Article:

Polymer concrete was introduced in the late 1950s and became well known in the 1970s for its use in repair, thin overlays and floors, and precast components. Because of its properties like high compressive strength, fast curing, high specific strength, and resistance to chemical attacks polymer concrete has found application in very specialized domains. Simultaneously these materials have been used in machine construction also where the vibration damping property of polymer concrete has been exploited. This review deals with the efforts of various researchers in the selection of ingredients, processing parameters, curing conditions, and their effects on the mechanical properties of the resulting material.

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