Plain Cement Concrete or PCC: Advantages and Uses

Civil Engicon Team
By -
Update: August 30, 2023
Plain Cement Concrete (PCC), often referred to simply as "cement concrete," is a fundamental construction material that serves as the foundation for various structures and infrastructure projects. Composed of a precise mixture of cement, fine aggregates (usually sand), coarse aggregates (typically gravel or crushed stone), and water, PCC is used extensively in construction due to its versatility, durability, and strength. 

Plain Cement Concrete or PCC: Advantages and Uses

Plain Cement Concrete (PCC), commonly known as cement concrete, is a fundamental construction material composed of a precise mixture of cement, fine aggregates (usually sand), coarse aggregates (typically gravel or crushed stone), and water. It is used extensively in construction for creating sturdy foundations, base layers, and durable surfaces. PCC provides a solid and even platform for various structures, roads, pavements, and more.
PCC is mixed in specific ratios to achieve the desired strength and durability. After the mixing process, the concrete is poured into designated areas and compacted to eliminate air voids. Proper curing is essential to allow the concrete to gain strength gradually and enhance its longevity.

Plain Cement Concrete or PCC: Advantages and Uses

How To Prepare Good Quality Plain Cement Concrete (PCC)?

Plain Cement Concrete is formulated by thoroughly blending cement, fine aggregates, coarse aggregates, and water in appropriate proportions. The mixture ratios are carefully chosen based on the specific requirements of the construction project. The goal is to achieve a homogeneous blend that will provide optimal strength and stability once it sets and hardens.

Plain Cement Concrete Ratio

The ratio for Plain Cement Concrete (PCC) refers to the proportion of different ingredients used to create the concrete mix. The basic components of PCC include cement, fine aggregates (sand), coarse aggregates (gravel or crushed stone), and water. The choice of ratios depends on the specific requirements of the construction project, including factors like the intended use, load-bearing capacity, and environmental conditions.

A common way to express the ratio for PCC is by specifying the proportion of cement, fine aggregates, and coarse aggregates in terms of volume or weight. The ratio is often written as a combination of these components, such as 1:2:4, 1:3:6, or 1:4:8, where:

  1. The first number represents the volume or weight of cement.
  2. The second number represents the volume or weight of fine aggregates (sand).
  3. The third number represents the volume or weight of coarse aggregates (gravel or crushed stone).
For example:
  • A ratio of 1:2:4 means that for every part of cement, there are 2 parts of sand and 4 parts of coarse aggregates.
  • A ratio of 1:3:6 means that for every part of cement, there are 3 parts of sand and 6 parts of coarse aggregates.
These ratios determine the overall strength, workability, and durability of the concrete. Depending on the specific project requirements and design considerations, engineers and construction professionals select appropriate ratios to achieve the desired properties in the final concrete mix.

Uses of Plain Cement Concrete (PCC)

The versatility of PCC makes it a vital construction material that plays a foundational role in a wide range of projects, from small residential structures to large infrastructure developments. Its ability to provide strength, stability, and durability makes it an essential choice for various construction applications.

Foundation and Sub-Base

PCC is commonly used as a foundation layer or sub-base for buildings, pavements, roads, and bridges. It provides a stable and even surface for further construction and prevents differential settlement.


In residential, commercial, and industrial settings, PCC is used to create floor surfaces that are strong and durable. It serves as a utilitarian base for various flooring finishes like tiles, carpets, epoxy coatings, and more.

Pavements and Roads

PCC is used to construct rigid pavements and roadways. It can withstand heavy loads and provides a durable surface that resists wear and tear caused by vehicular traffic.

Sidewalks and Walkways

PCC is commonly used for constructing sidewalks, walkways, and pedestrian pathways. Its durability and smooth surface make it suitable for areas with pedestrian traffic.


PCC is a popular choice for constructing driveways due to its ability to handle vehicle loads and resist the effects of oil spills and other chemicals.

Culverts and Drainage Structures

PCC is used to build culverts, stormwater drainage channels, and other drainage structures due to its ability to withstand the corrosive effects of water and other fluids.

Retaining Walls

PCC is used to construct retaining walls that provide stability and prevent soil erosion in hilly and sloped areas.

Foundations for Small Structures

PCC is often used to create the foundation for small structures like utility sheds, boundary walls, and outdoor structures.

Base for Masonry Work

PCC is used as a base for masonry work such as brick or stone walls. It provides a level and strong foundation for the masonry to be built upon.

Filling Voids and Trenches

PCC is employed to fill voids, trenches, and excavated areas. It can be used to level the ground before other construction work takes place.

Protection of Underground Utilities

PCC is used to encase and protect underground utility lines such as water pipes, sewer lines, and electrical conduits.

Industrial Flooring

In industrial settings, PCC is used to create heavy-duty flooring that can withstand the impact of machinery, heavy equipment, and foot traffic.

Erosion Control

PCC is used in erosion control measures such as gabion baskets or revetments to stabilize shorelines and riverbanks.

Pre-Cast Elements

PCC can be cast into pre-formed shapes and sizes, such as pre-cast concrete blocks or panels, for various construction applications.

Temporary Structures

PCC can be used to create temporary structures like construction ramps, temporary access paths, and staging areas.

Sound Barriers

PCC can be used to construct sound barriers along highways and roads to reduce noise pollution.

Advantages of PCC (Plain Cement Concrete)

Plain Cement Concrete offers a host of advantages that contribute to its widespread use in construction projects. Its strength, durability, cost-effectiveness, and adaptability make it an essential component in building solid and reliable structures across various scales and applications.

Strength and Load Distribution

PCC provides a solid and strong foundation that evenly distributes loads from structures, preventing concentrated stress points and reducing the risk of settlement.
Its compressive strength enhances the structural stability of buildings, pavements, and other constructions.

Durability and Longevity

Well-mixed and properly cured PCC exhibits excellent resistance to weathering, erosion, and chemical attacks, ensuring the longevity of structures. It can withstand a wide range of environmental conditions without significant deterioration.


PCC is a cost-efficient construction material, requiring relatively simple ingredients like cement, aggregates, and water which are readily available.
Its affordability makes it a popular choice for creating stable bases and foundations.

Ease of Construction

The preparation, mixing, and placing of PCC are relatively straightforward, making it suitable for various construction projects, including those with limited resources or technology.

Versatility and Adaptability

PCC is versatile and can be used for a wide range of applications, from residential buildings to heavy industrial pavements and infrastructure projects.
It can be customized to meet specific project requirements by adjusting the mix proportions.

Compatibility with Reinforcement

PCC provides an effective protective cover for reinforcement steel in structures, shielding it from corrosion caused by environmental factors like moisture and chemicals.

Smooth Surface Finish

PCC surfaces can be finished to achieve the desired texture, making it suitable for areas that require a smoother appearance, such as floors and pavements.

Minimal Shrinkage

Properly designed and cured PCC exhibits minimal shrinkage during the curing process, reducing the risk of cracks forming in the material.

Fire Resistance

PCC has inherent fire-resistant properties, which can contribute to the safety of structures, especially in areas where fire protection is crucial.

Environmental Benefits

PCC uses locally available natural materials, reducing the need for transportation and minimizing the carbon footprint associated with construction. Its durability reduces the need for frequent repairs or replacements, which can save resources and energy in the long run.

Smooth Base for Further Layers

PCC provides a smooth and level base for the application of additional construction layers, such as flooring or pavement surfaces.

Regulation Compliance

Many construction regulations and codes require the use of PCC as a base or foundation material due to its stability and load distribution properties.

Disadvantages of PCC (Plain Cement Concrete)

PCC remains a crucial construction material due to its widespread use, affordability, and ability to provide sturdy foundations for various structures. However, careful design, construction practices, and ongoing maintenance are essential to address these potential drawbacks and ensure the longevity and performance of PCC-based structures.

Low Tensile Strength

PCC has low tensile strength compared to its compressive strength. It is susceptible to cracking under tensile stresses, which can occur due to factors like temperature fluctuations and structural movement. To mitigate this, reinforcement is often added in the form of steel bars (rebar) to enhance its tensile capacity.


PCC is prone to cracking due to shrinkage as it cures and dries. These cracks can allow moisture to penetrate the concrete, leading to further deterioration over time. Proper curing practices and the use of additives can help minimize cracking.


PCC is relatively brittle, making it susceptible to impact damage and sudden loads. It may not perform well under dynamic forces and can fracture more easily compared to other construction materials like steel or reinforced concrete.

Limited Flexibility

Its lack of flexibility can be problematic in scenarios where the underlying soil settles or shifts. Cracking can occur when the ground beneath the PCC moves, leading to structural integrity issues.

Inadequate Performance in Extreme Conditions

PCC's performance can be compromised in extreme weather conditions, such as freezing temperatures or high heat. Freeze-thaw cycles can cause cracks and deterioration, while high temperatures can lead to thermal expansion and potential distress.

Heavy Weight

PCC is significantly heavier than some alternative construction materials like wood or lightweight aggregates. This can add to the overall dead load of a structure and might require more substantial foundations and support systems.

Labor and Time-Intensive Installation

The installation process for PCC involves multiple stages, including mixing, placing, compacting, and curing. This process can be labor-intensive and time-consuming, especially for large-scale projects.

Environmental Impact

The production of cement, a key ingredient in PCC, is associated with high carbon dioxide emissions. Cement production contributes to environmental concerns such as air pollution and resource depletion.

Limited Aesthetics

PCC surfaces can be plain and utilitarian, lacking the decorative options available with other materials like decorative tiles, stone, or hardwood. While finishing techniques can enhance appearance, PCC may not provide the desired aesthetic appeal for certain projects.

Maintenance Requirements

Over time, PCC surfaces can experience wear, chipping, and surface degradation, especially in high-traffic areas. Maintenance, repair, and resurfacing might be necessary to extend the lifespan of PCC surfaces.

Difficulty in Repair and Alteration

Once PCC is set and hardened, making alterations or repairs can be challenging and may involve breaking up and replacing sections of the concrete. This process can be time-consuming and disruptive.

Risk of Alkali-Aggregate Reaction

Some types of aggregates used in PCC can react with the alkali content in cement, leading to a chemical reaction that causes expansion and cracking over time. This phenomenon, known as alkali-aggregate reaction, can affect the durability of the concrete.

Post a Comment


Post a Comment (0)