Can concrete be restored?

Concrete is one of the most common building materials on Earth. From Roman aqueducts to modern skyscrapers, it forms the foundation of almost every man-made structure you’ll see today.

But it isn’t invulnerable.

You can make concrete incredibly durable, but it’s still susceptible to the laws of nature. Wind, rain, shifting ground, and other natural forces can have their way with it. Harsh chemicals and the wear and tear of equipment or feet can also break it down. And that’s presuming it’s been installed correctly and doesn’t have any internal weaknesses.

There are two facts every contractor can tell you about concrete that hold true 100% of the time:

  1. It gets hard.
  2. It cracks.

Concrete always cracks. It’s just a matter of where and how. When it begins to break down, what can you do?

Restoring damaged concrete

Concrete can’t always be restored, but it’s often possible. It depends on a few factors.

Firstly, how deep does the damage go?

When dealing with damaged concrete, there are a few different ways it can be damaged. It could be surface damage like chipping or spalling, where the cement begins to chip away from the aggregated lower layers. It could also be cracking, where the concrete breaks away from itself. Or it could be buckling, where the steel inside the reinforced concrete splits apart due to water incursion.

Surface damage like chipping or spalling can often be repaired. Resurfacing is possible with the right materials and can bond back to the original concrete.

Cracking may be repairable, but it depends. Some cracks only go slightly through the slab; in those cases, it’s entirely possible to repair the damage. If it doesn’t affect the structural integrity, it may be doable.

Sometimes cracks go all the way through the slab, or at least far enough through it that they weaken it. In those cases, they are usually not repairable.

Buckling is the worst problem—it happens when structural steel is exposed to water, which makes it swell with rust. Buckling isn’t repairable. You need to talk to an engineer if you see your concrete buckle.

There’s a lot of gray area in concrete repair. Talk to an expert to determine what’s possible for your particular situation. Contact us here at JKI—we can help.