Aggressive substances can compromise the durability of concrete. Shown are concrete beams exposed to sulfates.(photo courtesy of the Portland Cement Association)

The first line of defense against chemical attack is to use quality concrete with maximum chemical resistance. Added protection can be achieved by applying protective treatments to keep corrosive substances from contacting the concrete or to improve the chemical resistance of the concrete surface.

"Effects of Substances on Concrete and Guide to Protective Treatments" from the PCA addresses both these defenses:

  1. Components of a chemically resistant concrete mix: suitable cement, aggregates, admixtures, air entrainment and the placing of that mix (finishing, jointing, and curing).
  2. 23 types of protective surface treatments and the chemicals they help in combating.

A handy chart lists substances by class (acids, oils, salts, solvents, etc.) and the recommended protective treatment.

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