Why Does Concrete Crack, and How Can It Be Prevented?

cracked concrete

Concrete is a staple in our society from roads and driveways to pool surfaces and even kitchen countertops. It’s strong, durable, versatile, and affordable, so it’s no wonder that concrete is a builder’s best friend. But concrete has a propensity to crack. It’s not always inevitable, and certain preventable cracks never have to occur at all. We spoke with the owner of Jireh Construction, a Seattle asphalt company, for more information about concrete and why it can crack over time.

Shrinkage Cracks

Small, fine cracks called hairline cracks are often caused by shrinkage, when water evaporates from the concrete mix as it hardens. With less concrete volume, the material simply can’t fill the space needed, so the concrete literally pulls apart in an attempt to spread as far as possible.

Concrete is more likely to develop shrinkage cracks when poured in excessively hot weather since the heat will accelerate water evaporation. This is totally avoidable with a quality sealcoating Seattle construction company that will monitor water and mix radio and use fiber additives to minimize cracks.

Control Joints

Known as separations in the outer layer of the concrete, control joints provide a purposefully weak location across the concrete where hairline cracks can occur without harming the appearance of the surface.

Expansion Cracks            

These cracks are left between concrete and other materials, like brick, to ensure that the concrete can expand in hot weather. Without proper expansion cracks, the force of two static objects like bricks and concrete meeting will force considerable cracking over time.

Natural Causes

Tree roots serve as a main cause of concrete cracks when concrete is placed too close to the tree. Freeze and thaw cycles can also harm concrete with the continual wear and tear. Soil movement is also a culprit as the foundation under concrete shifts and alters.

While nature can’t be controlled, concrete strategies sure can. Concrete should never be installed close to a tree; 20 to 40 feet of distance is a smart precaution. Adding steel reinforcement and correct sub-grade preparation will also prevent cracks from occurring prematurely.

A professional and high-quality Seattle concrete construction company will know these tricks and use every single one to ensure that concrete remains in the best conditions throughout its lifetime.