According to the dictionary, “resilient” means the ability or capacity for bounding back from adversity. In construction, this refers to the ability of structures to resist and recover from the ravages of storms, especially along the Southeastern U.S. where hurricanes have historically done terrible damage. Concrete is a vital part of all construction and more resilient design can play an important role in disaster recovery for communities.
It’s important that structures use resilient concrete mixes that provide better moisture resistance against heavy rains and flooding.
Isn’t All Concrete Waterproof?
Yes and no. While even ordinary concrete can stand up to years of moisture, it isn’t necessarily waterproof or designed for submersion in water for long periods. Concrete, even after drying, is permeable, which means that it’s porous and can soak up water through tiny air spaces. In many cases, water can seep out of fresh concrete as it dries to leave “capillaries” that provide narrow but clear channels for rain water to run through.
Ordinary concrete in many cases acts like a dense sponge. This can allow water to seep into structural interiors, speeds the deterioration of the concrete and can provide a breeding ground for harmful mold. In the winter, freezing of these internal water pockets can cause cracking.
Water Resistance Vs. Waterproof
No concrete is necessarily waterproof, unless special waterproof sealers are applied over its entire surface. Vibration can also help to reduce the air bubbles in concrete mixes. But special additives are used in concrete mixtures to make it more non-permeable and resistant to penetration of moisture.
Water resistance can be improved by making the concrete mix denser with a higher concrete-to-water ration, but the more dense the concrete is, the harder it becomes to work with. Concrete can be made more moisture resistant with higher levels of fly ash, blast furnace slag (a byproduct of steel production) and silicates. These have no binding properties by themselves, but bond tightly with the particles of cement in mixing.
Resilient Design Saves Money
Although resilient concrete costs more than ordinary concrete, it can save money over the long run. It will last longer and be more resistant to storms and flooding, which means much fewer replacement or repair needs. This lowers the costs of maintenance for property owners and can even save on insurance. Last year’s Hurricane Matthew resulted in more than 100,000 insurance claims in Florida alone.
Longer-lasting concrete also means less impact on the environment from the cement manufacturing industry.
The Del Zotto family has spent more than five decades serving the building industry with quality tools and concrete equipment. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to break into new areas of concrete construction, our knowledgeable staff can answer your questions. Feel free to call or stop by our facilities and find out how our pre-cast experience can work to your benefit.