We almost always protect some common building materials like wood and steel. Everybody knows that protecting wood from UV rays or steel from corrosion is essential to keep the structures in service. We use varnishes, paints, and other protectives that we re-apply and maintain regularly.
On the other hand, protection is rarely taken into consideration for some other materials, like bricks and stone, maybe because the effect of weathering is less evident in these substances over time.
What about concrete? Does it fall in the first or second category?
The answer is not obvious. If you ever had seen a concrete bridge or even a concrete floor after 50 years of construction, you undoubtedly think that the concrete protection is necessary. Also, if you have read some literature about concrete degradation, you should have dispelled all doubts.
Degraded concrete on an old bridge.
Engineers experts in concrete mix design spend a lot of effort enhancing the concrete formulation to extend durability, but they usually don't deal with protection systems. And still, concrete producers do not mention any protection system on their website, technical datasheet or instructions. And construction companies do not care at all: "We've always done it that way". So the experts, at least in practice, leave the concrete structures to their fate.
To better understand if concrete protection is an opportunity and if the building sector needs a cultural shift, we should understand the basic mechanism of concrete degradation and the consequences.
Why are some Roman concrete structures, like Pantheon in Rome, still there after thousands of years? And why do some dams resist after centuries? Maybe the concretes of the golden ages were better, and the only way to extend a building's lifespan is to improve concrete formulation to achieve the ancient splendours?
Pantheon in Rome. Ancient concrete structure still standing.
Indeed, when we talk about modern concrete, we are considering reinforced concrete, a combination of concrete and reinforcing steel bars. Reinforcing bars allows for more complex shapes and lighter structures and definitely improves the concrete flexural strength.
Unfortunately, sooner or later, rebars are subjected to corrosion. And corrosion leads to concrete degradation up to the structure collapse. At least as long as the steel is used in concrete, the problem will arise.
Well, do we need to use any products or systems for the protection of concrete structures? Is it really worth it?
Concrete protection with Evercrete® Vetrofluid by Ecobeton.
You did everything possible to obtain a durable concrete mix design, essentially keeping the water-to-cement ratio as low as possible. You kept in consideration that appropriate curing is crucial for concrete durability. Then you still have at least three good reasons left to install a concrete protection system:
Concrete dam protection with Evercrete® Vetrofluid.
Sustainability (yes, in the first place nowadays). For every year you extend the service life of your building, you save a lot of water, resources, and an incredible amount of CO2.
Economic. Repairing damaged concrete or, even worse, replacing it will cost you tens of times the cost of protection and maintenance. The earliest you protect the structure, the greater will be the saving: from a financial point of view, applying a concrete protection system is one of the most profitable investments.
Safety. I don't believe in spending more words on this subject after recent news events worldwide.
If you think it's time to protect your structures, whether old or new, a bridge deck or concrete floor, or even your driveway, look at our Protect and Seal page. After all: the total protection of concrete is our mission.