Concrete Terminology 101
Just because you have concrete surfaces around your home or business does not mean that you are comfortable with concrete knowledge. In fact, home and business owners often find themselves intimidated by all the verbiage around them when they schedule a concrete repair or concrete replacement. But it doesn’t have to be mystifying. The right concrete repair or leveling contractor can help you by breaking down what these various terms mean before they get started. Here is some of the concrete terminology you might come across:
Sometimes known as Abrams’ water-cement ratio, Abrams’ law is a principle of civil engineering that speaks to the strength of the concrete mixture with regards to the amount of water in the mix. All concrete needs some water for the mixture, but according to Abrams’ law, the more water added to the concrete mixture, the more the strength of the concrete decreases.
There is water and cement in the mixing of concrete, but there is also admixture that is blended into the concrete before it’s finished. Admixture is typically a manufactured mix of chemicals designed to make the concrete more durable, more workable, or to help it harden sooner. Admixture is either added to the batch or on the job site when the concrete is being poured and tends to come in packets.
Air content refers to the amount of air that can be found in a concrete mixture. Air can be entrained — or added intentionally in the form of small air bubbles — or it can be entrapped accidentally as a result of mixing the concrete. Some air content is healthy, while other air content can make your concrete too porous and weakened.
A batch plant is less of a building where concrete batches are mixed and more of an impromptu batch plant set up on the job site. When large amounts of concrete are required, such as with a new commercial construction project, a plant will be set up to mix concrete on the job so that the team does not have to run back and forth, and the concrete is more workable when it’s poured.
Blistering can occur shortly after pouring the concrete as it begins to dry. It may appear as a thin film above the concrete or later as bubbling on the surface of the concrete. This can occur when there’s too much air in the mixture that becomes trapped as the concrete hardens.
Chip coating is a popular type of concrete coating, giving the concrete more variance and vibrancy. Color chips are plastic chips that are added to concrete coating so that the color is less one-note. The texture can often have an orange peel sort of look to it.
Concrete coating is a protective (and often cosmetic) seal that goes over the concrete in order to protect it from scratches, spalling, or water damage. It can come in a wide variety of styles and even colors. Epoxy is a popular type of concrete coating, though we at Childers Brothers prefer polyurea because of its quick curing process — curing within just 24 hours.
Even concrete, as hardy as it is, can crack and become worn down over time. Some cracks can happen as the result of an accident, while others might be due to an issue with the concrete mixture. If you have a dormant crack — one that hasn’t expanded since it cracked, this is a fairly low-stakes issue. You can seal it and waterproof it and tackle it later when you have the means. An active crack, which continues to grow, is more serious and should be taken care of as soon as possible.
Curing is the process of the concrete becoming the desired texture and consistency after being poured. For instance, no one wants to walk or drive over wet concrete — for good reason. You have to wait until the concrete is cured before it can be used. Concrete coatings also need to be cured, and the length of time can depend on the type of concrete coating you use.
Grout is a mixture of water and cement-like standard concrete used to bond together with other concrete slabs or wall materials. You will often see grout holding together brick walls or walls made of stone.
Sometimes concrete is reinforced with other materials in order to better its tension and help it to last longer. This is often the case with heavy-duty construction in which the concrete will bear a considerable amount of weight — such as bridges or building construction, more than driveways or walkways. Often, reinforcement comes down to steel bars and wire meshes.
A concrete mixture has to be just the right consistency before it’s poured. If it’s too dry, it won’t be workable enough to last and can easily crumble. Too wet, and it can form cracks early on. A slump is used to measure consistency in the concrete mixture. A low slump indicates a dry concrete mix, while a high slump is a wet concrete mix. A 4” slump is generally considered average and ideal for pouring concrete.
If you’re having concrete installed — whether for a residential or a commercial project, you’ll want to work with a concrete expert who can help you to understand all the concrete terminology and other aspects of the job that you may need to know. Childers Brothers, Inc. has years of experience working with concrete, including concrete repair and concrete coating. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule your own concrete work.