Restoring Concrete in Houston
Houston is practically made from concrete. The material is featured everywhere around the Bayou City – from massive interstates like I-10, to sprawling parking lots and garages, to drainage structures built directly into the bayous themselves. Without this durable material, Houston would not be the city it is today.
Without reputable Houston concrete experts providing the occasional round of maintenance and repairs, that pavement in the city would eventually fail. Although concrete is prized for its durability, weather and wear will eventually compromise its integrity – usually after decades of reliable service if the concrete was properly mixed, installed and maintained.
When your concrete begins showing signs of damage, it is time to act quickly. Doing so will ensure your pavement retains its structure, appearance and functionality.
What are the Causes of Concrete Damage in Houston?
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of concrete’s durability is its versatility. The material can withstand most applications and most environments – again, with the right installation and maintenance processes in place.
This is good news for Houston property owners, because conditions in the city and surrounding areas can be brutal on concrete. Here are some of the most common causes of concrete damage:
- Major temperature swings
- Heavy rainfall and water intrusion
- Ice formation
- Excessive vehicle loading
- Impact damage, such as dropping a piece of heavy equipment on the pavement
- Poor curing or installation methods
- Subgrade settlement or subsidence
- Lack of reinforcement
- Chemical attack, usually from carbonation or chloride exposure
Houston’s challenging combination of wet, hot weather, tricky soil conditions, and proximity to the coast all contribute to concrete damage.
Signs of Concrete Damage that Houston Property Owners Should Pay Attention To
At a glance, it may not be obvious what is causing concrete to take on damage, but there are likely some signs that the pavement is in distress. Those signs include:
- Spalls (chunks of concrete breaking off of the pavement)
- Uneven concrete
- Low areas where water is pooling
- Discoloration or staining
- Loss of surface texture
If any of these signs are present, bring in a reputable pavement expert to inspect the concrete and determine the cause behind the damage. Depending on how this inspection goes, the recommendation will likely be to either repair the pavement (if possible) or replace any failed areas.
What Do Professional Houston Concrete Repair Services Typically Include?
The first decision a concrete contractor will make will be to determine whether existing damage can be repaired, or if it necessitates replacement. Although concrete is extremely durable, when it does sustain significant damage, replacement is frequently the cost-effective choice. This depends on the extent and nature of the damage, the pavement’s age, safety considerations, and whether the remaining, intact concrete will survive the repair.
In most cases, repairs are recommended for cracks, as they are common and can generally be managed without ripping out the concrete and replacing it. When assessing a crack for potential repair, this is what the contractor will consider:
- Is the crack threatening the pavement’s structure? Most importantly, is the crack deep or wide enough to put any of the structure at risk? There are numerous signs that a crack is structural, and concrete experts can recognize them instantly. For instance, if one side of the crack is higher than the other, or if the crack is of a certain width, these are both structural crack signals.
If the crack is structural, the crack’s root cause must be addressed first. The underlying cause could be excessive loading, water intrusion, exposed reinforcement, poor installation techniques or more. There are a lot of potential reasons behind the crack. Once this is resolved, the crack may be repaired with a grout or epoxy injection, stitching, or drilling and plugging.
- Is the crack spreading or “dormant?” A crack that is still spreading is termed “active.” Dormant cracks are the opposite in this regard as they are cracks that are not currently widening. Dormant cracks may require action if there is risk of water intrusion, but active cracks are the ones that demand immediate attention. These cracks will worsen and expose the concrete to additional damage if they are not addressed promptly.
- Is the crack in a high visibility or high traffic area? Even in the case of non-structural, dormant cracks, they may still be a concern if they are in a high-visibility or high-traffic area. Here, they may pose too much of an aesthetic or safety concern to ignore. This may be a judgment call for the contractor and property owner to make jointly, but repairs are a good idea as they will keep the cracks from spreading or widening.
Repairs may also be possible for the following types of damage:
- Minor spalls – Spalls are typically the result of corroded steel reinforcement. As steel rebar oxidizes, it sheds rust, which takes up much more space than the surrounding aggregate. This places intense internal pressures on the concrete, causing it to break or pop off in chunks. If the compromised reinforcement is replaced, the concrete can be patched up.
- Discoloration – Discoloration can have many underlying causes. If rust-colored stains are forming on the surface, this could be due to steel rebar corrosion. If that’s the case, the compromised steel will need to be removed and replaced.
Other forms of discoloration may arise from poor mixing or curing methods, the use of calcium chloride additives, exposure to deicing salts, or good old-fashioned age. This discoloration may be resolved with a power wash or a light acid wash, though it depends on the extent of the discoloration and its cause.
For major instances of damage, replacement will likely be recommended. This includes cracks that threaten the pavement’s stability, exposed aggregate, uneven slab, base deterioration, severe spalling and obvious signs of corrosion. When any of these signs are present, it may be most cost-effective to opt for replacement.
Why is it Important for Houston Businesses to Repair Their Damaged Concrete?
If concrete is so durable and still usable even when damaged, why bother investing in maintenance to begin with? There are many reasons why commercial property owners should be proactive with their pavement, and here are three of the most compelling reasons:
- Reduced long-term costs – Performing repairs on concrete as they are needed will keep the concrete in good working order and delay the need for more expensive major repairs. With proper installation and maintenance techniques, concrete may last for at least 30 years before it needs to be replaced. On the other hand, if concrete maintenance and repairs are neglected, that lifespan can be reduced by a decade or more.
- Improved motorist and pedestrian safety – As concrete wears and takes on damage, it may become unsafe to walk or drive on. Uneven pavement, for example, poses a tripping hazard. Loss of surface aggregate can affect traction. Large spalls can produce depressions deep enough to cause vehicle damage.
By addressing any concrete damage as soon as possible, a business can avoid these issues.
- Improved appearance and curb appeal – Your concrete’s appearance may not strike you as an important consideration, but it isn’t referred to as curb appeal for nothing. Whether it’s a parking lot, a garage or a walkway, your concrete is one of the first things your visitors will see. While good looking concrete may not stand out to visitors, badly damaged concrete will. It can make a property appear older or poorly maintained, which is a first impression worth avoiding.
Given the cost and safety concerns associated with damaged concrete, it is highly recommended that property owners invest in preventative maintenance.
Fortunately, preventative maintenance is relatively simple and inexpensive. For concrete, this includes regularly checking the concrete for any emerging signs of damage – something property owners can manage without expert assistance. Beyond vigilance, regular power sweeping and the occasional power wash will keep the concrete in good condition.
Work with a Reputable Houston Pavement Contractor for Concrete Maintenance and Repairs
No material lasts forever – including concrete – but it can last for a very long time if it’s maintained well. This includes repairing any issues when they first emerge and are easy to deal with.
Reach out to an experienced, reputable Houston contractor with relevant concrete work in their service history.