How to Spot and Fix Common Concrete Problems

How to Spot and Fix Common Concrete ProblemsConcrete is a fantastic material for building in Tulsa. Whether you’re a homeowner looking to create a broad, smooth driveway or whether you’re a small business owner looking for a retaining wall or concrete flooring in your commercial property—the possibilities for meeting your needs with concrete are impressive, as long as the concrete is installed and maintained properly.

Of course, as with any material, concrete can show wear and tear. And if it’s not properly mixed, laid and cared for, you may notice some issues with it. At R&M Concrete, we consult with many Tulsa area homeowners and small business owners to pinpoint concrete problems and provide concrete solutions that give you beautiful, lasting property features.

To help ensure you get the best performance out of concrete surfaces and how they might affect your property, here are 6 common concrete problems and how to address them.

What Can Go Wrong with Concrete?

There are several common concrete problems you may find yourself facing. Here’s a list of what you might come across and why.

1. Cracking

One of the most likely issues to arise with concrete is having cracks appear in the surface. Cracks can happen for several reasons, such as:

  • Contraction due to temperature shifts
  • Settling at the subgrade level
  • Heavy loads from large trucks
  • Improperly laid concrete

There are several types of cracks you might see on concrete surfaces:

  • Shrinkage cracks—resulting when concrete contracts as it cures.
    • With shrinkage, the concrete is structurally sound, but it can be unsightly.
    • Minor shrinkage cracks can allow water to leak in, which can make cracks worse over time.
    • The fix: Prevent water from seeping in and making the cracks worse by applying concrete filler or a penetrating concrete sealer.
  • Crazing—a network of fine, surface-level cracks, resulting when the surface dries unevenly or the concrete isn’t properly finished.
    • Though this issue may be unattractive, it doesn’t extend beneath the surface, so your concrete will remain sound.
    • The fix: Contact the concrete installer so they can make adjustments to the surface finish.
  • Settlement cracks—caused by a shifting foundation.
    • These occur if the site wasn’t properly prepared before laying the concrete slab.
    • The fix: Have a concrete company or foundation contractor inspect the slab to assess the issue and offer recommendations.
  • Frost heave—occurs when moisture in soil freezes, causing anything above it, such as a concrete slab, to push upwards.
    • This problem occurs when concrete isn’t properly laid.
    • The fix: Have repairs made as soon as possible, because this issue can seriously damage your foundation.

2. Surface Scaling

Also known as spalling, scaling occurs when your concrete surface degrades by between 1.5–5.0 millimeters during the first year after it was installed. Scaling can happen for many reasons, making it difficult to prevent.

The fix: Your concrete should be treated before the scaling grows worse. A trowel-grade light coat of concrete can be used to level out the surface. Then, the surface should be properly sealed to reduce the likelihood of more scaling.

3. Discoloration

Wear and tear, weathering, exposure to various elements in the environment, and even curing time can cause concrete to become discolored. Though it’s not a structural problem, discolored concrete can look less attractive than you might like.

The fix: Try a concrete cleaner to see if it removes the discoloration, a possibility if you catch the issue early. If the cleaner doesn’t work, you can always choose to add color. Concrete stains come in many shades, and they provide a smooth, attractive look.

4. Blisters

Concrete blisters are essentially what they sound like—small bumps on the surface of your concrete. They result when air gets trapped beneath the concrete sealant, which usually happens when the concrete is initially being laid.

The fix: Blisters don’t indicate or result in structural damage, so they don’t need to be repaired. A good concrete contractor will likely notice blisters as they lay your concrete, and they can alter their concrete mix slightly to prevent more from appearing.

5. Curling

When the top and bottom slabs of a concrete surface differ in moisture content and temperature, the edges of the top layer may rise or curl up. This occurs during the laying and curing of the concrete.

The fix: Since this issue occurs when the concrete is drying, your concrete contractor should notice it and address it. If it is not addressed at that time, then your concrete may crack significantly later on, and will likely need to be redone.

Enjoy Concrete Solutions that Look Beautiful for Years to Come

You don’t have to settle for lackluster, discolored, cracked concrete—not when you know where to turn to enjoy the attractive, long-lasting concrete performance your property deserves. R&M Concrete provides Tulsa area homeowners with fast, reliable, reasonable concrete solutions so you can get the most out of your home. Check out our residential concrete services, and contact us for a free estimate on the project of your dreams.