Ready-mixed concrete is one of the most robust and durable construction materials, making it a favorite amongst contractors and construction professionals. It is a versatile material suitable for multiple projects like roads, driveways, patios, sidewalks etc.
When poured & maintained correctly, the concrete’s strength and finished look can last for several years. However, for the same, you need to follow specific strategies to achieve the optimal strength and, more importantly, to prevent the concrete from cracking.
Cracks significantly impact and deteriorate the quality of your concrete and reduce its durability. They are visually unpleasing and susceptible to water intrusion, which can cause contraction and destabilise the constructed structure.
Fortunately, the problem of cracking can be easily avoided by following a few simple tips and tricks. In this post, we will look at effective strategies to prevent cracks on your Ready mix concrete slab and expand its durability.
Firstly, let us look at some of the most common causes behind cracking in the concrete-
Common Causes That Lead To Cracks In The Concrete
- Expansion & shrinking
- Improper pouring
- Heavy load or pressure on the concrete slab.
- Loss of water
- Inappropriate cover during concrete healing.
- Corrosion of the steel bars used for reinforcements.
- Improper quality of the concrete mix.
Below, we have mentioned some exceptional strategies to prevent concrete cracking and maintain its optimal strength.
Powerful Practices To Prevent Your Concrete Surface From Cracking
Maintain Proper Water- Cement Ratio
One of the main reasons behind concrete cracking is ‘shrinking’, caused by excessive water in the concrete mix. When excess water from the cement evaporates, it leads to shrinking, which ultimately creates cracks in the concrete. The key to preventing this is maintaining a proper water-cement ratio.
As the name suggests, the water-cement ratio is the ratio of water weight to the weight of the cement used.
Higher quantities of water compared to cement mix can impair the strength of your concrete mix. Therefore, your W/c ratio must not exceed 0.5; the lesser your water content, the stronger your concrete.
Use High-Quality Concrete
Another thing to consider before pouring concrete is its quality and inherent strength. If the concrete is prepared from low-quality materials, its strength and durability will not be up-to-the-mark.
Maximising aggregate size, gradation, and content may have little influence on concrete shrinkage if the aggregate is of poor quality.
When a large aggregate with weak properties is mixed with a mid-size aggregate with good properties, the concrete may shrink more, eventually increasing the chances of cracking.
Hence, it is imperative to hire a renowned concrete supplier who provides a high-quality mix prepared with aggregates of adequate quality.
Follow An Adequate Finishing Process
Once you have selected a ready-mixed concrete, it is now time to begin the pouring process. One of the significant reasons for cracking is – improper finishing. Therefore, it is essential to apply appropriate finishing strategies to the poured mix.
Ideally, flat floating and trowelling are the best choice for finishing the concrete surface. It is recommended not to finish the concrete when there is bleed water on the surface – it can cause the water to return to the concrete instead of evaporating, causing cracks.
Allow Proper Curing
The next step after concrete finishing is ‘curing’. Generally, the curing process takes up to 28 days, but the initial few days are crucial in ensuring that the concrete surface is strong, durable, and crack-free.
For ensuring a crack-free surface, it is recommended to allow the moisture to evaporate slowly. Therefore, it is advisable to keep the surface moisturised, which will make the evaporation slow and produce stronger concrete.
Keep an eye on the forecast for possible cold fronts throughout the curing period. Cover the fresh concrete with an insulating blanket or polyethene sheeting at least four millimetres thick if the temperature is projected to drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Create Control Joints
Even when you allow the concrete to cure precisely as per the aforementioned instructions, large surfaces like patios and sidewalks are still prone to shrinkage and cracking.
Primarily, this cracking is due to shrinkage caused by temperature changes and soil movements.
Control joints can prevent shrinkage by cutting down the slab to about a quarter and strengthening the weakened parts, preventing them from cracking. For a 4-inch deep slab, you should create slab joints at 8 to 12 ft distance.
Concrete is a naturally strong construction material, but you can also increase its strength and durability by adding reinforcements. These reinforcements are added to the base in a grid pattern before laying down the concrete slab.
For comparatively smaller projects, you can use wire mesh before the pouring to prevent cracking. Your concrete supplier will be able to suggest which reinforcements are best suitable for your concrete mix.
The Ending Note
Using ready mixed concrete is a good idea regardless of the project size. By eliminating the concrete cracking by following the techniques mentioned above, you will strengthen your concrete even more.
For more information on concrete strengthening or your requirements for Ready mix concrete in Essex, London, Kent and other parts of the UK, contact the experts of Ready-Mix specialists today.