Concrete Maintenance and Repair: A Guide to Commercial Pavement in Houston

Concrete Maintenance and Repair: A Guide to Commercial Pavement in Houston

Concrete can’t be beat in terms of durability. With just a modest amount of maintenance, the material will last for decades with minimal issues.

As tough as it is, though, concrete isn’t completely invulnerable. Weather, wear, and the occasional accident can cause minor instances of damage to emerge in commercial concrete. If handled promptly, minor problems can be resolved before they develop into major issues, especially if repair services are provided by a professional Houston pavement team.

Why Commercial Concrete Maintenance is Important

Commercial concrete is a significant investment for property owners. You can expect to pay between $5 and $12 per square foot to have it installed, and commercial projects may be more than 100,000 square feet in some cases.

Ideally, that investment would last as long as possible so the owner could maximize it. That’s what concrete maintenance and the occasional repair is designed to do – extend the pavement’s life by fortifying it where it is weakest.

Numerous studies by transportation departments have come to the same conclusion – that paying a little for maintenance now means saving a lot in replacement down the road. It’s less expensive to improve concrete’s condition from “good” to “great,” than it is to improve it from “poor” to “fair,” is another way to put it. The cost-effective approach is to keep concrete in good or great shape for as long as possible.

That’s where pavement maintenance and repair services come in.

Concrete Pavement Maintenance: What to Expect

Concrete is not a maintenance-heavy material, but the occasional bit of attention will preserve its structural integrity, appearance, and performance. Here’s what property owners should expect in terms of concrete upkeep:

  • Regular inspections and cleanings – The single best thing a property owner can do for their pavement is inspect and clean it. This doesn’t need to be a highly detailed inspection – just enough of a look to determine whether there are obvious signs of damage forming. Aim for once a week on a quick inspection, but if that isn’t possible, be sure to check it at least once a month.

    Regular cleanings are also essential, as this removes dirt, debris and trash, all of which can abrade the material’s surface if allowed to remain. Power sweeping every week or so is recommended for heavily trafficked concrete. Invest in a power wash once or twice a year and it will be much easier to keep the pavement in excellent condition.

  • The occasional sealing and joint sealing – Commercial concrete is typically sealed immediately following installation and every few years after that. Concrete sealers produce a surface-level film that protects the pavement from debris and water, and it’s quick and inexpensive to apply.

    Around every five years, the concrete’s joints should also be resealed. These joints give the concrete their flexibility during thermal expansion and contraction, so it’s important to keep them free of dirt and debris. Resealing the joints ensures this is the case and protects vulnerable subsurface layers from incompressible materials.

  • Minor crack or spall repairs – Cracks are commonplace with concrete, and the vast majority of cracks do not require attention. However, cracks that spread beyond a certain width (usually 1/4 inch or greater) should be professionally attended to, as should spalls.

    During crack repairs, an epoxy-based sealer is the frontline solution, but heavier duty options may be required for deeper, wider cracks. An expert concrete team can recommend the best course of treatment.

    Spalls aren’t as common as cracks, but they’re common enough to regularly come up. Spalls are the result of natural weathering and wear processes, resulting in fractured concrete that breaks off in chunks. Small spalls can be addressed with patching compound, but extensive spalling may be a sign that pavement replacement is in order.

If more than the above is required, there’s a good chance that the concrete needs more extensive repairs – or maybe even replacement.

Five Signs That Concrete Maintenance and Repairs Are Needed

Age and weather will eventually take their toll on concrete to the point where repairs are required to maintain the material’s condition. If you notice the following signs, it’s time to bring in an expert pavement team:

  • Extensive cracking or wide cracks are present – As previously mentioned, some degree of cracking is expected with concrete, and as long as these cracks don’t spread or widen significantly, the problem can be isolated. However, when deeper, wider cracks do take root, it can expose deeper pavement layers to water intrusion and cause the concrete to quickly deteriorate.

    If cracks are large enough to permit water or debris intrusion, it’s worth bringing in a Houston professional to verify whether the damage is superficial or capable of affecting the pavement’s integrity.

  • The surface is shedding aggregate or chunks of concrete – As pavement wears, it may shed aggregates that loosely gather on its surface. Loss of surface aggregate is a clear sign that the pavement may be delaminating – a problem that can only be resolved by a Houston professional. This is also the case if large pieces of concrete are coming loose from the rest of the slab. These chunks could be large spalls, or something else, like popouts. In any case, if large pieces of concrete paving are loose from the rest of the pavement, this is a sign that significant repairs are needed.
  • The concrete is uneven in areas – Concrete is installed in segments or slabs, and these segments are designed to slightly move and shift independently of each other. This preserves the pavement’s flexibility while under thermal stress. It’s possible, though, that concrete segments shift so much relative to each other that some parts are higher or lower than adjacent slabs. This represents a tripping hazard and makes the concrete less accessible to pedestrians.

    Uneven concrete is often the result of base failures, which may be due to unfavorable weather patterns (freeze/thaw cycles most notorious among them) or due to unfavorable soil conditions. In either case, it’s highly likely that the uneven concrete will need to be replaced entirely to restore the pavement.

  • The concrete is developing potholes – Potholes are far more common with asphalt than concrete, but they can emerge on concrete, too. Potholes are the inevitable result of water collecting on the pavement’s surface, which itself may be a sign of inadequate drainage. As water collects on the concrete, it will slowly find its way into the pavement’s deeper layers and cause subsidence (caving in) inside the concrete. Eventually, the base under the concrete fails to the point where it fractures the surface and opens up a gap in the pavement. If left unaddressed for long enough, concrete potholes will spread and widen.

    Only a Houston professional can diagnose the cause behind concrete potholes and resolve the offending base failures.

  • The concrete looks aged and worn – Sometimes there isn’t a single identifiable example of damage. Instead, there’s just a general sense that the concrete has reached the end of its lifespan. The pavement may be faded, stained, or marred by numerous small surface defects. While concrete can be preserved for decades with proper maintenance, in the end there’s no substitute for total replacement in terms of restoring the concrete’s appearance and performance.

Choose a Professional Houston Pavement Crew for Concrete Maintenance and Repairs

One of concrete’s standout advantages is its low maintenance design. As a mix of water, rock and mineral, it doesn’t require much care to last for many years.

That said, the occasional round of maintenance can fortify your concrete with extra protection against the elements and other forms of damage. If it’s been a while since your concrete was inspected by an expert pavement contractor, it may be time to call in the Houston professionals. Chances are, a trusted Houston concrete team will identify ways that your organization can save money while maximizing the pavement’s lifespan.