Proper concrete maintenance is key for preventing costly repairs. When a concrete slab needs to be replaced, the old material needs to pulled out before placing the new slab. This can get very expensive as most concrete is a minimum of three and a half inches thick, which makes the material very heavy. So in order to ease removal, the slab needs to be saw cut or jack hammered to break it up into smaller pieces. Once the slab is removed, the new stone base can be prepped. Typically, a concrete slab will cost at least six dollars per square foot to replace. So regular concrete maintenance is key.
So what types of maintenance are necessary to keep your concrete in good working order? First, make sure all cracks are sealed on a regular basis. Spring is a good time to go through all of your exterior concrete slabs and check for gaps and cracks. You don't want water to get down through the cracks and wash out the stone base below. This can create settlement which ultimately leads to cracking and trip hazards. High-quality concrete caulk is necessary to seal the joints up. Check with your local concrete supplier for material recommendations.
Cleaning is another concrete maintenance item. Regularly cleaning your concrete surfaces will keep carbon dioxide, acids, and chlorides from entering the concrete surface. Dirt, saltwater, automobile fluids, deicers, and sand are filled with these corrosive chemicals that can deteriorate the concrete surface. By keeping the surface free of these items, you will help prevent surface spalling. When it comes to cleaning your concrete, make sure you wait until the surface is at a cool temperature. You don't want to put really cold water on a hot concrete slab as it can put stresses on the material that can lead to cracking.
Sealing your exterior slabs is another high-priority concrete maintenance item. One of the best ways to protect the surface of your exterior concrete is to limit the amount of water that transports harmful chemicals into the concrete's pores. Check with your local concrete supplier for some really high-quality sealers. The best sealers penetrate the material to provide long-lasting protection. Most of these can be applied with either a plant sprayer or a simple paint roller.
These are some of the most important concrete maintenance items for homeowners. But in addition to maintenance, it's important the concrete is installed properly from the beginning. Here are some general contractor tips for getting a quality concrete job.
1. Provide a four-inch compacted stone base directly under the slab
2. Add control joints to control the cracking in the surface
3. Air Entrained Concrete - Make sure the proper concrete mixture is used for the local climate.
4. Not all concrete will stand up to freeze-thaw cycles.
5. Water - Make sure your contractor doesn't add water to the concrete truck on-site as this will weaken the material
6. Cure - Be sure to include a curing compound or keep the surface of the material wet during the first few days after pouring.
Proper concrete maintenance and installation will help you prevent costly repairs down the road.
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