Understand the chemistry and behaviour of concrete, and familiarise yourself with as many of its resulting conditions as possible with this in-depth guide.
By understanding the chemistry and behaviour of concrete, and familiarising yourself with as many of its resulting conditions as possible, you can easily prevent problems during placement or often mitigate the resulting issues after the installation process.
Concrete does not come in a bag. While it is true that you can go buy it at a big box hardware store, concrete is much more than a bagged product. It is essential to obtain a basic understanding of concrete’s nature and behavioural characteristics to better understand the problems that arise on job-sites.
Concrete is a complex three-dimensional dynamic building product. According to ACI 116, “Concrete is a composite material that consists of a binding medium within which are embedded particles or fragments of aggregate, usually a combination of fine aggregate and coarse aggregate.” Portland-cement combined with water and (sometimes) admixtures is the most commonly used type of concrete. When all ingredients are combined, a one-way linear chemical reaction begins. This linear reaction can be sped up, slowed down, or stopped, but cannot be restarted. Each step in this linear process is important and requires time to react and behave properly.
The purpose of this guide is to provide a basic knowledge of concrete, its behaviour, how it functions from a scientific perspective, and to shed light on what can go wrong during concrete installation and how to prevent it. The examples provided in this guide are real conditions that occur when concrete is not installed as designed. Please note that, while every effort has been made to ensure the specific cause and effect is listed for each example provided, multiple conditions may apply to the following problems. It is best to recognize that there is rarely one cause for a problem. Typically, it is a combination of errors that lead to an issue. However, by better understanding the chemistry and behavior of concrete and addressing as many conditions as possible, you can prevent problems during placement or mitigate the resulting issues after the installation process.
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