How Concrete has Changed Over the Years

Old meets modern with this striking custom concrete facade, created by Versatile Concrete for the Crown & Thieves Winery in West Kelowna.

Old meets modern with this striking custom concrete facade, created by Versatile Concrete for the Crown & Thieves Winery in West Kelowna.

We love concrete for its versatility! We can use it for functional pieces like sturdy concrete counters and concrete tables, but also for beautiful, unique concrete art features. But how did concrete get to where it is today?

700 BC

Early concrete-like substances have been discovered in Syria and Jordan dating back to the 4th century B.C. The Nabatean traders who were using concrete discovered how to use hydraulic lime — lime-based concrete that was set underwater. 

The Pyramids

Ancient Egyptians made bricks from straw and mud; those materials are not particularly similar to concrete. But they did use the minerals gypsum and lime to create mortar used in the construction of the Great Pyramid. 

A Secret Ingredient

A big step forward in durability, Romans began mixing volcanic ash into their concrete blends; the secret to their structures’ longevity. The Pantheon - built around 126 A.D. - is recorded as the largest “non-reinforced concrete dome in the world,” according to the Guardian. That’s some tough stuff!


Concrete, more similar to how we know it today, was first mixed in 1824 in England by Joseph Aspdin. Later his formula was strengthened by his son, with a higher limestone content. Then, in 1849, reinforced concrete was innovated by Joseph Monier, increasing the tensile strength and durability of the material. 

The Most Used Building Material

According to the Canadian Concrete Expo, concrete is “the most used building material”. High-strength, durable concrete made its way across the pond and into industrial use in North America. The early 1900s saw concrete streets, the first high-rise and colour mixes for concrete. In 1976, concrete helped put Canada on the map when the CN Tower was erected in Toronto from steel and concrete, becoming the tallest free-standing structure — a title held for 32 years. 

Custom Concrete Outside the Box

Famous architects Frank Lloyd Wright (who designed the Guggenheim museum) and Oscar Niemeyer pushed the boundaries of concrete as a material that can take on a multitude of shapes and forms. 

Today, we at Versatile Concrete use a proprietary custom concrete blend to precast this incredibly multifaceted material into decor concrete, mason supply, indoor concrete, outdoor concrete, and more. The sky’s the limit and we’re always looking for the next challenge in custom concrete.

Work with custom concrete artisans who are ready to bring your vision to life. Versatile Concrete has two decades of experience handcrafting precast concrete using custom designs.Contact us to get started.

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