Where traffic roads are concerned, there has long been a raging debate between the proponents of concrete and asphalt roads. Both undoubtedly have their benefits, whether it be the more sightly and environmentally friendly concrete or the more durable and flexible asphalt. One thing which undoubtedly holds concrete back, however, is its proneness to cracking. And this can happen anywhere there is concrete paving. If you have laid any concrete around your home or commercial property, then you will no doubt be aware that this is a risk, even if you’re lucky enough not to have experienced it yet.
Before getting on to why concrete cracks (and what you can do about it), it is worth making one all-important point. As paving experts, Parking Lot Pros advise that the way to avoid excessive cracking is to make sure the right concrete is installed, to begin with. Cutting corners when installing any type of concrete paving is a sure-fire way to see cracks (or worse – large potholes and other damage) sooner rather than later. Good concrete properly installed and well maintained, on the other hand, will serve you well for many years.
Why Does Concrete Crack?
So, with that out of the way, it’s time to answer the burning question – why does concrete actually crack over time? The short answer is negligence or trade dishonesty. The longer answer is, in fact, three-fold. Here follow the main reasons why concrete cracks, as well as brief advice on what to do about it:
Too Much Water in the Mix
Concrete, as many of us know, is a mix of crushed rock or sand (known as aggregate) churned with cement and water into a sludgy mix ready to apply. It then sets in time. If the water-to-cement ratio is high then you can expect cracks to come along before too long. Concrete does not require much water to achieve its optimal strength, but water does make the concrete easier to pour and install. Accordingly, some tradesmen might look to make the job a little easier by compromising concrete’s long-term strength. This is precisely what you need to look out for. As the water evaporates, the concrete shrinks. If there is a lot of water to evaporate, it will shrink more, and it is this that causes cracking.
The only remedy here is to be prepared and to be forearmed with knowledge about how much water should be in the concrete that is being used.
Another thing that can significantly increase the likelihood of concrete cracking is rapid drying. The chemical reaction involved in the setting of concrete requires water, and it requires time. If the water evaporates too quickly, the concrete does not have the time to set to its optimal strength. It will then be weaker and eventually crack.
Solving the problem again requires action before, not after, the fact. Again, be forearmed with knowledge of the concrete, this time what its optimal curing time is.
Incorrect Concrete Strength
Concrete is not a single substance and can in fact be made from a truly vast array of different aggregates, cement, and proportions thereof. All these factors determine its eventual strength. Quite simply, if you use concrete that is too weak for the job, then you can expect cracks.
Luckily, concrete formulas are set things. Find out the right formula for the job and ensure that this is what is being used.
In summary, concrete can last for many years without cracking and is a versatile and durable material – but it has to be the right concrete for the job.