How to Prevent Cracking in Concrete

Protect walkways and slabs from premature cracks with a combination of these tips and a professional, ready mix concrete delivery.
Monday, 16 January 2017 17:11

Concrete is essential for maintaining a functional driveway, outdoor living space, or walkway. Not only is a solid walking surface important for the functionality of your home, cracked or damaged concrete can also impact the curb appeal (and overall value) of a house as well. 

Residents of the North East know how cold it gets during the winter – what we don’t consider is how tough the freezing climate is on concrete. Today, we’ll review the reasons concrete cracks prematurely, and how a professional ready mix concrete delivery can alleviate unexpected problems.

 

The Most Common Reasons (and Solutions) For Premature Cracking

Despite being one of the most durable man-made materials, concrete is prone to cracking over time. 

Often, cracks are caused by one of three reasons:

1. Shifting Earth:

Concrete acts as a man-made shell, allowing us to enjoy our homes and towns without struggling to cross uneven, weathered ground. Unfortunately, the earth’s surface is constantly shifting, which forces concrete to be put under pressure; when the earth shifts enough to create a significant amount of stress on the ground above, cracks begin to appear at the first point of weakness in the concrete. 

How to fix it: As the ground moves, it creates pressure on concrete surfaces. By adding your own “stress joints” into the concrete, you’re able to reduce the amount of stress each slab is exposed to. 

2. Shrinking: 

Concrete is constantly shrinking, even if it is at a sluggish rate of 1/8 inch per every 20 feet of laid concrete. As it contracts, the shrinkage begins to create stress in the surface of the material, causing cracks.  

How to fix it: Unfortunately, it’s difficult to stop concrete from cracking because of its natural shrinking processes. To fix the issue, concrete professionals reduce the amount of “aggregate” included in their ready mix concrete delivery.

3. Freeze-Thaw Cycles: 

It’s no secret that the winters in Jefferson County are cold and often bring temperatures that drop below freezing. Not only does the cold weather make it that much harder to roll out of bed in the morning, it also makes it significantly more difficult for concrete to last its intended lifespan. During the winter, concrete goes through what is called the “freeze-thaw” cycle – a progression that causes thousands of cracks and potholes throughout Missouri each year. 

How to fix it: Concrete is a porous material that can hold small amounts of water on its surface. Because water occupies more space when it freezes, any moisture remaining in the surface of a concrete slab will expand, creating cracks. To reduce damage from the freeze-thaw cycle, ready mixed concrete can be prepared with an active “sealing” agent that makes it difficult for water to enter (and freeze) the surface.

Concrete is an essential part of any home, whether it’s used as a slab, a walkway, or driveway. To prevent your new concrete from cracking, speak with local concrete professionals that are familiar with the common foundational challenges in the North West.  

If you’re ready to lay durable ready-mix concrete at your Missouri home or work place, contact us today.  

 

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