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Why Guy: Why is so hard to find concrete?

Margie Aguilar asks, "There seems to be a shortage of concrete. Do you know why?" Walt Gray explains.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Today's 'Why Guy' question comes to us via Facebook and Margie Aguilar: “Hello, had a question for Mr. Why Guy? My husband has been in the construction business for over 30 years. There seems to be a shortage of concrete. Do you know why? He has never seen anything like it before. They can't find concrete anywhere. Suppliers are only allowing a certain amount at a time. Do you know why?"

Margie, I do know why and it's not a surprise. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the supply chain of materials coming to the US from China and India.

Production plants overseas have closed. As far back as February, 50,000 construction workers were laid off in Hong Kong due to a cement shortage caused by COVID-19. That was at least two weeks before the United States started to curtail activities.

Cement, by definition, is a glue-like substance used in concrete. Concrete and cement are often confused. Cement is good for general purposes. Concrete is the final product after the mixing of cement, aggregates (including sand), water and admixtures together, according to admixtures.com.

According to the website bestconstructionpractices.com, up to one-third of all materials that builders use in the United States come from China. Any slowdown in Chinese production can lead to shortages in the United States and a rise in costs.

I recently took a trip to a local Home Depot in West Sacramento, and I'm personally responsible for the U.S. being out of about 15 bags of cement.

I asked one of the staff there if he’d seen a shortage of cement at his store, and he said “thank God, no”.  For the do-it-yourselfer, who just needs a few bags for a small project, supply doesn't seem to be an issue.

Continue the conversation with Walt on Facebook. 

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