- Why Did My Concrete Deck Crack
Why Did My Concrete Deck Crack?
After twenty-five years of being in the construction industry, I am still amazed at the number of calls I receive from home owners wondering why there new concrete has cracked. I don’t know if some of the builders themselves don’t know the answer or why they don’t tell the home owner the truth about concrete, but the bottom line is that concrete decks are going to crack.
Concrete is a product that shrinks while its curing. On a ten foot section, it will shrink approximately 1/16th of an inch. This might not seem like much, but from a product that has zero deflection, the slab is going to break. Soil conditions that have not properly been compacted can also cause some cracks. There are many other reasons that can cause cracking, but I’ll save those for another article.
It is always a good a idea to add some type of reinforcement to your concrete. In my opinion, rebar placed 24″ on center is an excellent idea. The rebar will help keep the cracks from expanding and also from seperating. Often after a crack appears, one side of the deck will raise from the other. Rebar will help hold them together to avoid this problem.
Another excellent choice is fiber mesh. It is a product that can be added to the mix prior to installation. The product is inexpensive to add, but has great benefits for the price.
Wire mesh is another alternative. In my opinion, the problem with mesh is that it typically will get trampled to the bottom of the slab during installation. It is very difficult to pull the mesh up during the installation process of screeding. With many hands around during the construction pour, it is impossible not to stand on it while the rod men are doing there job. Typically, the workers should be pulling the mesh up while there working their way across the slab.
Experience is invaluable when it comes to concrete. Here at, I tell my clients that their concrete is going to break. I don’t try to scare them, but I do like to inform them about the truth with concrete. I tell them we will do everything in our power to control where those breaks occur, but it is going to break. The proper placement of control joints is a must. These are joints placed in the slab that create a “v” groove, and are approximately 3/4″ deep. There purpose is to create a weak spot in the concrete and try to pursuade the break to occur at that particular spot. Properly placed, these grooves can avoid the nasty hair line cracks that occur in slabs.
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