Concrete is a popular flooring material for good reason–it’s incredibly durable and low-maintenance. However, it’s not immune to damage and occasionally does require concrete repair. Fairfax, VA homeowners may come to notice problems with their concrete flooring, such as cracking or uneven surfaces–and if this is the case, it’s important to determine the cause and take immediate corrective action. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common types of damage that occur in concrete flooring and how to manage each one. We’ll also touch on if damaged concrete can be repaired and why you should hire a professional contractor for the job.
Common Examples of Damaged Concrete Floors
It’s no secret that concrete is one of the most durable construction materials on the planet, potentially lasting several lifetimes if installed correctly. However, even Superman had his kryptonite—and even the toughest of substances is likely to have at least one weakness, whether that be chemical, vibrational, or something different. Concrete is susceptible to a few kinds of damage, including cracking, spalling, uneven surfaces, and chipping, to name a few. We will touch on each of these below.
One of the most prominent and unsightly ways concrete can become damaged is through cracking. This can be caused by an array of reasons spanning from deformation due to compression on the structure, corrosion of the steel reinforcement and framework, thermal shrinkage, hydraulic shrinkage, and concrete swelling due to chemical reactions from sulfates found in soil to aluminate found within the concrete itself.
Of course, conditions have to be “just right” (or “just wrong,” depending on how you look at it) in order for concrete to crack—and the quality of the installation definitely has an impact on how resilient your floors will be over time. However, some ways to prevent cracking from occurring include ensuring your contractor uses preventative, protective coatings to guard against water and chemicals like acids or sulfates, and mindfully mixing the concrete with longevity in mind. This includes weighing factors such as the temperature of the mixing water, the quality and size of the aggregates used, and consciously adding soluble additives that are likely to have the best results given the climate, the size of the floor, and other factors.
Spalling occurs when flakes of concrete break off from the larger whole, generally caused by rusting steel reinforcements embedded within the concrete. The internal steel framework will begin to rust if exposed to oxygen and moisture, a common problem in winter months, which is why properly laying your concrete floor is essential to preventing future damage. This makes the concrete around it weaker and more likely to experience further damage.
The most common cause for spalling is when water absorbs water and goes through temperature fluctuations such as freezing and thawing, creating hydraulic pressure that can test the tensile strength of the cement slab. One simple way contractors can protect against this is by updating their floats to reduce porous or uneven areas in the surface of the concrete as they lay it. Another important step in producing spalling-resistant concrete is to ensure it is properly cured before moving forward with any finishing touches.
Surface Becomes Uneven
Often caused by shifting earth beneath the foundation, or even an event as dramatic as an earthquake, uneven surfaces can pose problems from safety concerns to aesthetic problems, and it is likely that once the problem starts, it will only grow more pronounced—ultimately needing attention and repair. The best way to avoid this from happening is to take great care when laying the foundation that the ground is properly prepared ahead of time, and that the concrete itself is laid as even and securely as can be.
We would be remiss to mention different types of concrete damage without including the most popular culprit: chipped concrete surfaces. This can happen as a result of everyday life, such as moving equipment, furniture, or other fixtures into your home. While it might seem like a little chip isn’t the end of the world, it could be indicative of more chips to come—especially in contexts like garages, which routinely have cars and other tools moved across the flooring—and typically will need to be addressed by a professional concrete contractor.
Can Damaged Concrete Be Repaired?
Some homeowners mistakenly think that once their concrete floors begin to show wear and tear like cracks, impact marks from dropped heavy objects, or spalling, that they will have to start anew and replace the floor entirely.
However, there is good news for the thrifty renovator in that most forms of concrete damage can be repaired at a fraction of the cost of laying an entirely new floor! However, this process is not quite as straightforward for the average homeowner as it might seem, in that it actually requires a fair amount of professional experience working with concrete, understanding how it binds, and where things can go wrong in order to properly diagnose the problem in the first place. Once this fairly significant task is accomplished, contractors will need to:
· Observe and record the full extent of the damaged areas
· Triage areas that need the most repair and strategize materials, methods, and strategies
· Prepare the damaged area to receive updated treatment and repairs
· Apply the materials correctly, allowing time for the repair to properly cure
Concrete Repair Fairfax, VA with The Concrete, Etc
While it can be tempting to try to save a few bucks and repair your damaged concrete floors yourself, this can pan out for some folks that might have concrete experience—but there is also plenty of room to go wrong. Concrete is an awesome material to work with for its durable, fairly permanent nature—however this means that when you make a mistake, it requires quite a lot of work to rectify—and this generally requires calling in a professional. When it comes to getting your concrete floor repaired correctly, it’s advisable to at least consult with a professional concrete contractor in your region. Discuss their rates and processes, browse their portfolio and customer reviews, and find the best value solution for your home or business.