Two Types of Concrete: Concrete that HAS cracks, and concrete that WILL crack

Concrete is an economically efficient and long-lasting building material.  It can be a homeowners dream solution for a sidewalk, driveway or patio.  However, at some point in time any concrete project is likely to crack.  Let’s take a look at some of the causes that contribute to this “Building Material Gone Wild.”

The life span of perfectly intact concrete ranges from that of a gnat to a domesticated dog.  Why such a range in this material’s ability to stay intact?  Several factors like poorly compacted base layer, insufficient base materials, inattention to freeze cycles, shrinkage issues, and overloading of surfaces all lead to concrete cracking.

How does a professional handle the intricacies associated with concrete?  First, environmental factors need to be assessed, which include knowledge of yearly temperature ranges, types of native soil, water flow on the property, and trees roots systems.  Without these initial and basic assessments your concrete project is doomed to fail.

If the aforementioned factors are not addressed, settlement cracks will occur.  Settlement cracks occur when soil has not been compacted well enough, or ineffective and insufficient base layers are used.  Furthermore, water erosion and horizontal tree root intrusion will wreak havoc on a concrete slab.

One of the most obvious factors in concrete cracking is overloading the slab with too much weight.  Before concrete work commences at your property, be sure to discuss the kinds of loads your concrete driveway, walkway, or patio will be holding with your professional hardscaper.  Furthermore, be sure to discuss what kind of chemicals or materials are detrimental to your concrete project (i.e. salt in the winter).

One tried and true solution to address cracking is to add control joints to the slab.  Control joints are specifically placed indentations in the slab that control or guide any cracking that may occur into the joint itself.  If cracking does occur, there are products that can successfully mask or treat the cracks in the joints, so you don’t have the Grand Canyon running diagonally across you patio.

All a homeowner wants is to get a solid (no pun intended), fairly priced, long-lasting job well done.  With building materials like concrete, many times it takes an experienced professional to meet those needs.  Consider Robinson Landscape for you next concrete walkway, driveway, or patio