Dicaperl Microspheres: A Cost-Efficient Lightweight Concrete Aggregate

Find Dicaperl at World of Concrete 2020

lightweight Concrete Aggregate

This week, we’re at the World of Concrete convention in Las Vegas. It’s an exciting event for us at Dicaperl because we get to meet and educate more than 60,000 professionals around the world representing all areas of the construction industry. We’re here exhibiting perlite microspheres as a lightweight concrete aggregate solution for use in cement and stucco. In honor of this convention, we’re taking a comprehensive look at how and why perlite is an advantageous option.

Perlite for Cementitious Composites

Perlite is a mineral formed by molten rock, also known as volcanic glass. There are many reasons it is a top choice for cementitious composites:

  • Reduces weight and shrinkage of the product
  • Improves sandability
  • Improves rheology
  • Not hollow
  • Adsorbs water on the surface, but water will not penetrate the sphere
  • Inertness and non-toxicity
  • Fire resistance
  • Gloss and sheen control
  • Available in various sizes and bulk densities
  • Does not rot or decay

Dicaperl’s Perlite Microsphere Specifications

  • Bulk density: 0.85 to 0.15g/cm3
  • Fire protection: Up to four hours is achievable with the minimum weight and thickness
  • Weight: A typical 110 L sack weighs 32 lbs
  • Particle size: 500 to 44μm
  • Crush strength: 500 to 2000 psi; 3 to 14N/mm2

Recent Studies on Perlite as a Lightweight Concrete Aggregate

The Pennsylvania State University Architectural Engineering Department recently tested a variety of concrete aggregate options. They were comparing the compressive strength and alkali-silica reactivity of lightweight aggregates used in mortar. Dicaperl’s perlite microspheres were used in testing. Here are some of their findings:

  • Perlite microspheres greatly reduce the overall weight of the product.
  • It is one of the lowest weight options on the market. (The lightest option is expanded vermiculite, another one of our mineral offerings.)
  • Amounts of perlite aggregate greater than 30% may have negative effects relating to mechanical strength. Using it as part of an aggregate mixture, like sand, can greatly improve these results.
  • Perlite is recommended for applications that do not have structural or load-bearing uses.
  • It is especially useful for thermal insulation due to its porous microstructure.
  • The alkali-silica reaction for perlite stayed relatively steady over time while the normal-weight reactive sand levels increased significantly.

Perlite Microsphere Lightweight Concrete Aggregate Applications


Perlite can be used in cement as a replacement for sand. Like sand, perlite HP 2035 keeps the products from cracking, but is much lighter and whiter than the sand counterpart.


Stucco with 20% volume of HP 2035 helps the workability as well as coverage and reduces cost for a stucco manufacturer.


For lightweight concrete, perlite microspheres are usuful for linings, lightweight floor fills, pool bases, underground pipe and ducting, tank insulation, and more. The addition provides thermal insulation and noise reduction. It even provides monolithic insulation, is permanent, rot-proof, and vermin-proof.

Building Panels

Lightweight building panels created with perlite help reduce noise transfer through walls, improve fire protection, and reduce strain on structures.

Note: Because of its insulating properties, perlite cementitious composites are not recommended over radiant heating panels.


Perlite cement-based plaster can be used on new or remodel work, as a basecoat for stucco finishes, and as a substrate for ceramic tile or masonry veneer. Perlite plaster aggregate mixed with gypsum provides an ideal base coat plaster for interior walls and ceilings and for membrane fireproofing to the underside of floor and roof assemblies or structural steel members.

Compared to sand plaster, it weighs up to 60% less and offers four times as much thermal transfer insulation.

Joint Compound

Joint compounds produced with perlite are lightweight and easy to work with. Perlite also improves the bonding properties and provides greater uniformity. It improves the overall paintability as well as in the adhesion of the joint compound to wallboard surfaces.

We offer Silane, Siloxane, and Cyclo-siloxane coatings which improve the uniformity between the painted surface of a joint compound and the painted surface of the paper cover sheets of the wallboard.

Dicalite Management Group’s Perlite Microspheres

Dicaperl’s industry-leading perlite microspheres are available in a range of densities, degrees of whiteness, and strengths to suit most formulating requirements. Densities range from 4 lbs. per cubic foot up to about 15 lbs. per cubic foot. Proprietary coating microspheres end in product codes 10, 15, and 20.

This special subset of perlite fillers requires advanced manufacturing and classification techniques to produce. Dicaperl is one of the only perlite manufacturers in North America producing perlite microspheres for a variety of industries and applications, from construction and building materials to specialty pharmaceutical and healthcare products.

Searching for a different mineral solution? Use our product finder database to find safety data sheets and more information about all our mineral offers. You can even search by application and mineral.

Find Us at World of Concrete 2020

Stop by United Mineral and Chemical Corp’s booth #S13513 to learn even more about perlite microspheres. We’re exhibiting lightweight cement and stucco products.

Request Your Free Sample Today.

There are many things to consider when choosing the right lightweight concrete aggregate for your application. That’s why we’d like to send you a sample of our perlite microspheres. Test them out and see the difference perlite can make. Call us today at 866-728-3303.

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Our blog offers insight and information about new and exciting uses for perlite, diatomaceous earth, and vermiculite deriving from years of research and application. From passive fire resistance to mineral depth filtration, by subscribing to our mailing list, you will receive the latest information surrounding the Dicalite, Dicaperl, and Specialty Vermiculite brands and products.

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