Choosing the right kind of concrete can make the difference between the long-term success or failure of your build. If you don't make the right decision here, then your concrete might not last as long as you expected. It might need frequent maintenance, repair or even replacement.
In some cases, air-entrained concrete is the most suitable product to use. How is this concrete different? What are its benefits?
What Is Air-Entrained Concrete?
Air-entrained concrete changes the composition of regular concrete to add to its capabilities. Here, you introduce air into a concrete mix.
So, for example, you might use various carrier agents to do this, such as detergents, salts or acids. When you mix the agents with concrete, they introduce air bubbles to it. The concrete you use is lighter and less dense than a regular mix.
You can buy specialist air-entrained concrete mixes and use them on site. Or, you can add agents to regular concrete to create your own air-entrained material.
Why Use Air-Entrained Concrete?
If you're laying concrete in an environment that will be exposed to freezing temperatures or snowfall, then you have to factor in freeze-thaw effects. When the concrete gets cold, it will contract. When it thaws out and gets warmer, then it will try to expand again.
Your problem here is that concrete doesn't really have the flexibility to deal with contraction or expansion. It is a rigid material once it has been set and cured.
So, if you expose a regular concrete, say on a road or pavement, to regular freeze/thaw cycles, then the surface might start to get damaged. While hard, concrete can pick up some moisture internally. Changes to this moisture during a freeze/thaw cycle can cause stress to the surface.
When this happens, the surface will start to break down. Stresses can cause cracks both on and inside the concrete.
For example, the concrete might start to delaminate. This process leads to spalling damage. Your surface might start to crack and crumble. It might heave up or down. Heaving makes a road or path dangerous to walk or drive on. People might trip on raised or recessed areas; cars might get damaged if a road surface isn't smooth and even.
If you use air-entrained concrete, then you give your surface the ability to deal with freeze/thaw cycles without getting damaged. The concrete's air content prevents spalling. It gives the concrete more flexibility and better protection against damage.
To find out more about how well air-entrained concrete will work on your project, ask concreting contractors for advice.