Are Concrete Cracks Inevitable or Can They Be Prevented?

Concrete remains the choice material for a host of exterior paving applications such as kerbing, driveways and walkways. But a recurrent issue some homeowners have is the development of cracks. If these cracks are not attended to, your concrete structures begin to deteriorate at a fast rate, and before you know it, you need to embark on concrete repairs to restore your walkways and driveways or opt for complete replacement altogether.

Although concrete is not immune to damage as it will eventually succumb to weathering, it should not disintegrate prematurely. Therefore, these cosmetic and structural problems can be avoided for the long term. So how do you prevent cracks developing in your concrete prematurely? 

Ensure the concrete is prepared appropriately

Concrete repairs tend to be prevalent when the material is applied as a DIY project. The reason for this is some homeowners may not know the delicate balance required to make sure the cement mix is perfect. The first thing to note when preparing your concrete is to go easy on the water. The higher the water content, the weaker your dried concrete will be, and this will make it prone to damage. The second thing to bear in mind is the prevailing climate. Since Australia has erratic temperature changes, concrete is prone to expansion and contraction, which can alter its structural integrity. Therefore, the moisture content in the content should be balanced enough to withstand these temperature fluctuations. 

Ensure the soil is compacted

For any structure to be stable, it needs to have a sound foundation. The same applies to the laying of concrete. You may have mixed your concrete correctly, but if you pour it on top of loose soil, it will not settle properly. As a result, when the concrete starts to set and dry, cracks begin to form. It is prudent to compact the earth on which you will lay your concrete to prevent this from happening. The denser the soil compaction, the less likely your concrete will begin to deteriorate as it starts to settle. 

Ensure proper concrete placement

Proper placement is another step in concrete laying that some people overlook under the assumption that it is inconsequential. When you are laying down your concrete, you need to vibrate it. These vibrations function to force out any air bubbles that could be trapped inside the concrete mix. If you successfully eliminate all the air inside the concrete mixture, it will have a smooth surface once it starts to set. Conversely, if a proper placement is not achieved, the air bubbles will rise as the concrete is setting, weakening it and increasing the chances of cracks and fractures.