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Spalling caused by poor mix design, poor finishing, and environmental stress.


A gray-colored stamped concrete driveway was poured for a front entrance to a motel. The driveway is exposed to a cold climate and developed etching, cracking, and minor spalling within a year. No deicing salts were used. What could be the causes?


First, all concrete cracks. The real questions are what type of cracking took place, and was the cracking preventable or controllable? A random crack in concrete, while aesthetically unpleasing, can occur even with the best mix design and proper placement, finishing and control jointing practices. What is not acceptable and can be avoided are surface spider cracking, called “shrinkage cracking,” and spalling due to poor mix design, placement and finishing. These concrete repair videos explain how and why these problems occur.

Shrinkage cracking is caused by rapid drying of the concrete surface by wind or high heat. Proper placement and curing practices are required to prevent this. Spalling is caused by one or more of the following: a poor concrete mix, poor finishing, or overwatering. These all cause a weak surface, which fails when the concrete experiences stress. In your case, the stress was caused by exposure to hot and cold temperature extremes over the course of a year and high traffic.

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Author Chris Sullivan, technical expert and vice president of sales and marketing for ChemSystems Inc.

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