Concrete is paramount to modern day construction. It is used in the foundation of almost every building that you come across, as well as a wide range of other applications. This is why making sure that it maintains its structural integrity is important.
Concrete cracks for a number of reasons. Before going into further detail, first you must understand that there are two types of cracks that occur in concrete. The first is a structural crack. This is caused by a faulty design, an issue caused during the construction process, overloading, or a poor foundation. These types of cracks lead to unsafe structures and should be repaired immediately.
The second type of cracks are nonstructural cracks. These are caused by issues with the materials used to make the concrete during the initial construction process. While they are not necessarily dangerous, they are unsightly.
What causes Cracks in Concrete
Too Much Water
Water is an important element in the process of forming concrete, as it acts as a binding agent for all of the dry ingredients. However, it often is the case that there is too much water added to the mixture because it makes it easier to lay your concrete. This practice undermines the strength by making it too porous, so repairs are required often.
If design and planning is not taken into serious account, then it can lead to serious issues in the concrete’s strength and integrity. One way is by overloading the concrete. Placing too much stress or weight on a section of concrete can lead to cracking and other issues that can weaken it. Another design flaw that might lead to cracks are electrical outlets and other items placed in the concrete. Because they are placed in the concrete, the concrete doesn’t seal properly which can allow moisture to penetrate and wreak havoc in the form of cracks.
If there are issues in construction, this can lead to weak concrete. One of the most common weaknesses caused by poor construction is a “honeycomb,” or a rock pocket. These happen when concrete doesn’t fill the spaces properly and can have very serious repercussions with regards to the structural integrity.
Corroded Reinforced Steel
Depending on what you are building, you might use steel rods known as rebar. This is important in construction, as it provides support for the concrete. Unfortunately, steel can rust or corrode relatively easily when exposed to elements such as air or water. If it starts to rust or corrode this can spread into the concrete and weaken it immensely.
How to Pick the Proper Concrete Filler
As with handling any type of repair job, you must first understand what the problem is as well as what potentially caused it. There are a few different factors below to take into account when you are choosing the proper filler to repair any damaged concrete.
Depending on the size of the crack you will have to choose the appropriate filler. For smaller cracks, these are likely quick fixes that can be fixed with a caulk, epoxy or sealant that will prevent further damages or crack spreading. Larger cracks require a bit more attention and materials. These will likely need a cement-like product to fill in any holes or cracks that you can see. Be sure to fill it as best as you can to prevent honeycombs or rock pockets, as these will lead to further degradation.
An important factor that contributes to concrete’s strength and durability is the amount of time that it takes for it to cure. Depending on the kind of concrete that you use for your project, it can take as short as a few days or as long as a few weeks to undergo the curing process. When you encounter cracks you need to make sure that the concrete has cured properly. There are some products and additives that will speed up this process so that you can make the necessary repairs sooner rather than later.
Ease of Use
When repairing concrete, you probably think that it is a simple task. In essence, it truly is, however it can be complicated. Try looking for simple to use products if you aren’t an expert in masonry and concrete working. These should require minimal effort on your behalf. Some products can require mixing, so if you don’t really know what you are doing it can cause further issues or just be a lot more time and effort than is necessary.
Like all materials, temperature is a major factor that can affect its performance. If you are repairing a crack in concrete that might be exposed to extreme heat or temperatures, be sure to purchase and use the proper filler that is rated for the conditions.
Best Crack Repair Kits
1.) RadonSeal Concrete Foundation Crack Repair Kit
This kit is a great and affordable solution when dealing with cracks that are caused by water or pests. The RadonSeal Repair Kit features an applicator that works via injection, making what could be a very expensive repair quick and easy. The only extra purchase that you might have to make is a caulking gun to help with applying the solution. This works well on settling cracks, cold point joints, and corner cracks. It works by expanding to fill the spaces within the crack. It is waterproof, which is a great feature to prevent further damage.
2.) Aqua-X 11 Clear, Penetrating Concrete Sealer
Aqua-X has an amazing product that is recommended and used by experts to seal and protect your concrete from the elements so that it will last longer. This fast drying application gives you top-notch protection for up to five years, all at an affordable price. By applying a single coat you can easily protect your concrete from mold, mildew, salt, and damage from freezing and thawing. This product is ideal for garage floors, driveways and patios, as well as basement and concrete retaining walls.
3.) Bluestar Flexible Concrete Hairline Crack Filler
If you have a hairline crack or fracture in your concrete, this is a simple and quick fixer for it. With a simple squeeze on application, you can make necessary repairs in a matter of minutes. It works well in either hot or cold weather and comes in two colors to suit your needs.
4.) DAP 37584 Liquid Cement Crack Filler
DAP’s crack filler is a great and fast drying product intended to repair hairline cracks. It is easily applied by squeezing it into the problem areas and dries very quickly in a shade of grey that blends into most concrete colors.
5.) Red Devil 0646 Masonry and Concrete Acrylic Sealant
This is a great sealant that is not limited to usage on concrete. You can use this product on surfaces and material such as stucco, mortar, stone, wood, and even aluminum. This product is great for filling in cracks in sidewalks and making repairs in walls and patio surfaces. It also dries pretty quickly and in a grey hue. You can even paint over it if necessary.
Different Types of Crack Fillers
As we mentioned before, it is important to understand what kind of damage is present in order to apply the correct filler to fix the problem. There are a number of products on the market that are made with a number of materials and also serve different purposes. We will outline a few options and what their exact use is below.
Concrete Crack Sealant
This is one of the most common fixes for damages and cracks that appear in all kinds of concrete applications. When this type of product is applied it fills in the pores of the concrete to increase its resistance to water. These products have practical uses that are found in both residential and commercial capacities because they are easy to find and relatively easy to use.
Concrete crack sealants come in two different varieties and it is important to understand their uses.
The first is a penetrating sealant that can be used on either damp or dry surfaces. This variety is typically made of acrylic or some kind of urethane. While these aren’t as effective as other products, they can last up to five years and are resistant to acid and abrasions.
Topical sealants are the other type. Their application is a bit simpler, as they are only intended to be used on visible surfaces and cracks that don’t penetrate very deep. They are best applied to dry surfaces in order to achieve the best results.
Concrete Repair Caulk
Concrete repair caulks are similar to the above mentioned sealants, but they are a bit more rigid and are composed of different materials. These are great for making repairs that are meant to surfaces waterproof and to keep bugs from entering through cracks that they might find. You can also use this in plumbing applications, as it takes one hour to cure before it can be exposed to water and moisture.
Quick Setting Cement
As the name suggests, this is a fast setting cement mixture. This is great for quick repairs in larger gaps, as well as cracks on steps, walkways and roads. Quick setting cement contains aluminum sulfate which makes the setting process occur in as fast as five minutes and is complete in half an hour. It is quite impressive, but keep in mind that it is only used for repairs and typically not for building applications.
This specialized cement is used to help prevent and fix leaks in wet settings. It can be used in underwater applications such as drainage systems, swimming pools, cisterns, and fountains. These aren’t the only uses for it, but it is a very fast setting type of cement that can work amazingly well despite wet conditions.
This is a special compound that is designed to fix cracks and fractures that are a bit too deep for other compounds or sealants to reach and fill. Patching compounds are typically cement based mortar that require a few tools to apply. You start by mixing the powder with water until a mortar or paste is formed, and then you use a putty knife to apply it and trim away any excess. These compounds are also typically quick setting, clocking in at about an hour.
While this product is applied in very thin layers, it can withstand an impressive amount of pressure that might make it actually stronger than the concrete that you are applying it to. It is made out of several different materials and is used for sidewalks, floors, driveways, and parking areas.
There are so many different factors at play when you are attempting to make repairs to concrete. Whether it is a simple hairline fracture or a divot in the sidewalk, you should do your homework on what kind of materials and products would be best for the job that you are going to tackle. Hopefully, with the above information and products we have given you more than enough information on what you might need to handle your task