Concrete is one of the most versatile building materials on the planet; it can be shaped, coloured, contoured and textured, all with the help of a little time and water. While water plays a big role in the hydration and curing of concrete, it is actually its biggest enemy in terms of internal strength and integrity over long periods of time. Ironically still, the versatility of concrete isn’t as rock-solid as it should be either; as erosion and wear and tear also play a huge role in the effectiveness of concrete as a structural material. So, what can you do to ensure maximum concrete protection for your structure, your home, your chimney and your ducts? Let’s first take a look at how you can protect your duct with the right construction and the right service and repairs.
Protection against Water Damage
When water is allowed to penetrate the surface of concrete, a multitude of things can happen. It can freeze and thaw and cause spalling, harmful chemical solutions can cause efflorescence and it can even cause concrete to shrink, expand and contract, causing cracks which is one reason why you should perform chimney cleaning regularly. The only way to prevent water damage is to put waterproofing procedures into place for your concrete, as early as you can. Using cement based sealants, coating sealants, or penetrating sealants will work to waterproof cement for a few years, making use of waterproof membranes can extend that time considerably. Silicone sealing compounds are becoming increasingly popular in damp proofing techniques, as these allow for a waterproof seal for concrete, without creating an additional vapour barrier.
Protection against Wear and Tear
Wear and tear has a huge impact on the overall quality and integrity of concrete and is a main reason it is used on new custom home builds– and as it is used as much for indoor and outdoor flooring solutions as it is for the construction of buildings, erosion and abrasion are quite common factors for damage. Specialized coating sealants, such as acrylic coatings, are an effective solution to reinforce the surface areas of concrete, and as these come in both clear and colour variations, they are customisable, too! Water-based acrylic coatings lend a durable finish to bare or textured concrete surfaces, and offer easy maintenance for those high-traffic areas. These can prove to be slippery if applied to smoother concrete finishes, so choosing slip-resistant acrylic coatings (which are made slightly coarser than their counterparts) for stairs, pool areas and patios.
Protection against Rock Salt and De-Icing Products
As mentioned above, allowing water to freeze and melt can cause concrete to spall, so what happens when it snows for any period of time? That’s where rock salt and de-icing products help to protect concrete, right? Wrong. The truth is that these ‘solutions’ only cause more problems for concreted areas, as subflorescence forms. In short, subflorescence is caused by leftover salt that re-crystallises within the pores of concrete, and this rises to the top to form mineral deposits. In extreme cases, the leftover salt can even corrode concrete rebar metal, and this will have much more serious consequences than simple flaking. To protect against the effects of rock salt and de-icer around your lawn in bad weather, try to choose high-quality concrete before construction, as some mixes are now designed to be generally more resistant. If you need to protect existing concrete however, only use these solutions sparingly or use a specialist outdoor concrete sealant.