Transform Damaged Concrete

Knowing how and when to address damaged concrete is key to formulating an effective plan for resolving the issue.

Fortunately, many forms of concrete damage can be addressed without resorting to a complete tear-out and replacement. There are concrete-alternative materials available on the market today, such as epoxy systems, that are proven to outperform traditional concrete in terms of strength, durability, useful life and cost-savings.

But before determining what types of concrete damage are candidates for repairs, restorations and resurfacing, it’s important to gain a better understanding of the most common types of concrete damage.

The four most common types of concrete damage on commercial surfaces include:

Cracks

Cracks are a very common, inevitable form of concrete surface damage. There are two main types of cracks: active and dormant. Active cracks will enlarge and extend over time and are more difficult to repair because of the movement. Left unattended, water can get into cracks and either make them worse or create new cracks.

You should take an active approach in fixing a crack if it seems to allow water to get underneath the pad, which will worsen the damage, or it has grown to become a safety hazard to customers or employees. The Americans with Disabilities Act outlines a trip hazard as “any vertical change greater than one-quarter inch.”

Dormant cracks will not grow unless they encounter impact or moisture. They may be a bit unpleasant to look at, but they’re typically not going to lead to any bigger problems so taking action is optional.

Spalling

Spalling, sometimes referred to as pitting, is the chipping and flaking that occurs on the concrete’s surface. While it’s unsightly, spalling in and of itself is not indicative of a larger problem, such as a failing sub-base, so it can typically just be resurfaced and sealed to address the issue.

Spalling can be caused by exposure to freeze-thaw cycles or improper mixing. Freeze-thaw occurs when water gets into the pores and then freezes and expands. Moisture can expand up to 9 percent of its previous volume when frozen, so when it thaws, moisture under the top layer of rigid concrete can create pressure that leads to spalling.

In cold-weather climates, de-icing chemicals, such as calcium chloride or rock salt, are also a main culprit of spalling, but if the concrete is mixed properly, poured correctly and sealed well, it will be less affected by chemical exposure.

The proper mix at the time of pouring, including an appropriate amount of air entrapment to allow for water expansion, can help minimize incidences of spalling.

Settlement

When voids form under a concrete pad, the concrete tends to crack, break and settle into the void if it’s not strong enough. The result is an uneven and unstable surface that likely requires quick action before it grows into even larger damage.

Voids typically form through some type of issue with the soil, such as it being loosely compacted at the time of pouring; there being a severe drying and shrinking of the soil; or the occurrence of an underground water leak from plumbing lines that causes a washout of a portion of the soil.

Lifting

Lifting can also be a possible consequence of freeze-thaw cycles. Frozen moisture under the surface can cause larger sections of a concrete slab to lift at the joints, allowing for even more water and debris to enter underneath and cause greater damage. Lifting is also commonly seen on sidewalks when nearby tree roots have grown over time and caused a pad to lift.

When you see these types of damages, it’s in your best interest to engage an expert to gain an understanding of all your options. In many cases, concrete damage can be addressed through simple, cost-effective solutions.

Cost-effective solution

Before jumping to the conclusion that your damaged concrete needs to be torn out and replaced, you may want to consider repair/restoration options. Many times, the concrete’s sub-base is still structurally sound underneath despite the issues that appear on the surface. However, if the slab shows signs of movement and the sub-base is unstable and destroyed, the concrete has lost its integrity and should be replaced.

Restoring concrete essentially involves maintaining the already settled and still viable sub-base and applying a custom-configured epoxy mortar system as the repair or new top layer. When compared to a total tear-out and replacement, concrete-alternative solutions often offer the following benefits:

  • Quicker turnaround
  • No heavy equipment or dumpsters
  • Less cost
  • Minimized disruption/noise

When selecting a contractor, look for one that is experienced, has a documented track record, and is extremely familiar with the materials they’re using.

At Simon Surfaces, we design and manufacture our own materials, and they’re used exclusively on Simon Surfaces projects. We know them inside and out.

Our self-manufactured, high-quality polymers are blended with an aggregate to create a system designed to safely and effectively repair/resurface damaged concrete. The unique epoxy-based concrete alternative is ideal for vehicle/forklift traffic, as well as heavy pedestrian traffic areas like sidewalks and curbs. It is 2-3 times stronger than standard concrete, allows surfaces to be custom-colored for branding or safety requirements, and is resistant to chemicals like gas, oil and salt.

When you need an opinion on how best to address your damaged concrete, or if you would like to learn more about our processes and our epoxy materials, check out Simon Surfaces!

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