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Home Construction: Preventing Your Concrete Surfaces from Cracking

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It is not uncommon for homeowners to complain about cracks in their freshly-poured concrete surfaces. This issue is particularly common for individuals who choose to perform the work without professional assistance or experience. In general, when a concrete surface is installed correctly, it will last long without extensive maintenance. However, poor construction practices will lead to cracks and premature failure. Here are simple guidelines to help you prevent the formation on your new concrete surface.

Use the Correct Amount of Water

Concrete mixes do not require a lot of water to achieve optimal strength. However, when a person without experience creates the mixture, they will often add more water than is necessary. This practice is common because concrete with little is harder to install. Unfortunately, the excess water lowers the total strength of the concrete surface. 

Also, it makes the installed structure more prone to cracks. In simple terms, as the concrete dries, it will lose the water added to the mixture. This process causes a lot of shrinkage due to the high amount of water lost, resulting in cracks. Therefore, when mixing concrete, it is advisable to follow the recommended quantities.

Prevent Rapid Concrete Curing

Concrete is more prone to cracking when the slab dries too fast. As mentioned above, when the concrete is curing, it loses water. If the water loss is rapid, the installed mixture will experience high stress. To achieve the best results, you should keep the surface hydrated after initial pouring. Simply speaking, the reaction which allows the concrete to change from its fluid form into a stable solid requires fluid. Providing the necessary water will allow adequate curing.

Plan for Control Joints

Concrete will expand and shrink continuously depending on the changes in humidity and temperature. These normal variations in the installed structure dictate that the concrete will eventually crack, regardless of the pouring method. Therefore, it is important to plan for contraction or control joints. These are pre-planned breaks which provide the concrete surface with space to freely expand and contract. The cracks formed will be regular, and they will minimise the risk of random cracking. 

Concrete installation is not an easy process; there are multiple factors that you must consider for success. Therefore, if you are planning on starting a concrete construction project in your home, you should think about hiring an experienced contractor. The experts will ensure that the surface or slab is strong, durable and free from cracks.