Type 1L cement is everywhere – here’s what you need to know about it

Learn why it’s so popular, how it’s made and what product is best suited to densify it.

 

The materials we use to build are constantly changing with evolving technologies, availability of source ingredients, regulatory activities, architectural trends, and other factors. The construction industry is still learning about a relative newcomer to the world of commercial and residential concrete and how it affects concrete densification and polishing.  

The use of type 1L cement, also known as Portland limestone cement, has skyrocketed in the last few years, according to Bruce Ferrell, Concrete Flooring Specialist for PROSOCO. Why is it becoming so common? The answer has to do with the process of cement production and its impact on the environment.

Exposed Design Group is a commercial contracting company in Dallas, Texas, which started in 2009.

“Type 1L cement was introduced as a way to capture CO2 emissions,” Ferrell says. “Some sources state that anywhere from 7 to 8% of the CO2 generated in the world is during the production of cement. Type 1L was conceived as a way to limit the amount of CO2 generated because cement is basically limestone put in a kiln and cooked. It’s cooked until it turns into little boulders called clinkers, and then they grind it. When that comes out of the bottom of the grinder, it’s called cement.”

The process of cooking and grinding up the limestone to produce cement is not energy-efficient. As a way to reduce the emissions created during this process, the concept of type 1L cement was born. Type 1L cement is mixed with uncooked, or raw, limestone as a substitute for cooked limestone.

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Sawtooth Caulking applies Consolideck products to newly placed concrete.

Essentially, the more uncooked limestone in the mix, the fewer CO2 emissions generated during production. In the case of type 1L cement, up to 15% of Portland cement can be substituted with raw limestone.

Many cement producers are switching production to type 1L cement, and once a cement plant starts producing this type of cement, it’s not likely they’ll go back to making traditional cement types such as type 1 or type 2. The reason for this is that producers store cement in large silos that can only contain one type of cement, and the purchase of additional storage silos can be prohibitively expensive.

As more and more producers have altered their operations to produce type 1L, ready-mix concrete producers are following suit – which is one reason why type 1L has become so common in a relatively short amount of time in the building materials world.

photo by Chuttersnap, Unsplash
According to the Portland Cement Association, around 60% of cement in the market today is now type 1L. photo by Chuttersnap, Unsplash

According to the Portland Cement Association, around 60% of cement in the market today is now type 1L, and Ferrell says it’s getting harder and harder to find type 1 and type 2 cements. That trend is not likely to reverse anytime soon. Today’s type 1L currently can contain anywhere from 5 to 15% raw limestone, but the eventual goal is to bump that percentage up to 30%.

No matter the exact percentage of raw limestone in Type 1L, concrete containing this type of cement reacts differently than Type 1 and Type 2 cements, which requires adjustments when it comes to the placement of concrete as well as the application of chemicals.

LS application

How can I tell how much raw limestone is in my cement?

To the naked eye, of course it’s impossible to tell what percentage of uncooked limestone is in your type 1L cement. The only way to know for sure is to ask for a batch sheet from the ready-mix plant to see the exact percentage of raw limestone in your mix. Another factor causing inconsistency in type 1L cement mixes is that across the country, there are three distinct types of limestones quarried from three different deposits. As a result, the cement arriving on any given job site could contain distinct chemistries and reactions to products used to densify and polish concrete.

Blended Densifier offers better performance than other densifiers when used on type 1L cement mixes.

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What’s the best product to densify type 1L cement?

As new technologies, environmental trends and materials develop, extensive testing is essential to understand the best products to effectively do the job needed and minimize the risk of damage. While the industry is still working to understand the implications of type 1L cement in concrete placement, polishing and care, PROSOCO has applied its world-famous testing and research capabilities to understand the new material and how to best densify it. Building material chemists at PROSOCO have determined that Blended Densifier is the ideal option to densify type 1L cement.

LS-densifier-application
Typically, a densifier sprays on with a weed sprayer and is then spread out with a microfiber mop to even out coverage.

That’s good news for owners and contractors, because Blended Densifier is one of the most economical densifier options on the market today, and it works on steel-troweled as well as burnished concrete floors. It’s a blend of silicates that goes on easily with a simple one-step application. It requires no scrubbing or flushing, it cures quickly, and it’s VOC-compliant.

It’s also verified to meet a number of green certifications and credentials, including LEED, SCS Indoor Advantage Gold, and the Living Building Challenge Red List.

You can learn more about Blended Densifier here, and if you have any questions, you can always ask your PROSOCO rep or call our Customer Care team at 800-255-4255. We’re real people who answer the phone M-F, 8a-5p Central Time.

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