Homesteading puts us in a constant state of learning new skills, especially in the early years. One thing you’ll want to become comfortable with as soon as possible is working with concrete, because there plenty of ways we can use concrete in homesteading.
Concrete Is the Ultimate Building Material
Composed of Portland cement, crushed rock and water, concrete is both simple and highly functional. If you want a home that will:
- Stand the test of time
- Be easy to heat in winter and cool in the summer
- Resist strong winds, even those from tornadoes or hurricanes
- Be unappealing to insects, rodents and other pests
- Offer a quiet retreat from noise
- Be fireproof
- Be recyclable in the future and can be made from recycled materials today
- Allow you to have full artistic reign
… then concrete is the material for you. Concrete homes, otherwise known as ICF or insulated concrete form homes, offer all of the advantages above and more.
And the last bullet point is one we simply can’t gloss over. If you think of a concrete home and imagine a dull grey monolith to call “home,” you couldn’t be more wrong. Concrete can be colored and stamped to appear like other building materials altogether, giving the appearance of, for example, a brick or stone home. You can also embed materials like tiles and glass to give your home an eclectic look.
Aside from building your home out of this material, there are plenty of other ways to use concrete around the homestead.
Keep Burrowing Critters on the Right Side of Your Fences
Does any of this sound familiar?
- A fenced garden that burrowing pests still feast on
- A chicken coop that is raided by digging varmints
- A dog who digs his way out of the kennel on a routine basis
We build fences for a variety of reasons, and animals, domestic or otherwise, always test those barriers. Fortunately, there is a simple and permanent solution to prevent digging.
Dig a trench about 1 foot deep and just a couple inches wide as close to your current fence line as possible. Fill it with concrete, and while the mixture is still wet, place simple metal stakes in it every few feet to help you tie the fence to it, preventing any gaps between the concrete and the fence that might invite a digger to still weasel in or out.
Take Advantage of Concrete’s Fireproof Properties
Virtually all homesteaders use fire to cook, heat their homes or burn debris. It’s essential to have a safe place to control a fire so that it does not get out of hand and destroy your property. Concrete is fire resistant, and thanks to its malleability, also completely customizable.
You can build:
- An outdoor “pizza” oven
- A firepit, either raised, flat or sunken
- A rocket mass heater
- A fireplace and chimney
- Safe storage for flammable materials
Every Building Needs a Concrete Slab
If you need just one good reason to become a concrete pro, it’s the simple fact that virtually every building needs a durable foundation. Barns, sheds, garages … you name it, it needs a concrete slab foundation to provide a solid basis of support.
And best of all, concrete prices remain affordable, even more so if you use recycled concrete, which uses chopped concrete as the aggregate for new concrete rather than gravel. It’s easy to use, strong and cheap … the trifecta of a perfect building material.