Natural Stone Porous Materials Protection Cleaning D.I.Y.

The cure for concrete cancer

Water gets into cracks like these and erodes the concrete from within.

Achilles had his heel. Samson had his flowing locks. Siegfried had his shoulder. Even the toughest of us have our weak points.

It wouldn’t surprise you, then, to learn that even concrete isn’t invincible. Despite being universally recognized as one of the toughest materials out there, even concrete requires surface protection to keep it fighting fit for years to come.

One of the most insidious types of damage that can happen to concrete is known as concrete cancer.

What is concrete cancer?

Concrete cancer is a term used to describe deterioration in the structural integrity of concrete, which can come in a number of forms. Such damage can have a significant effect – in January 2012, for example, London had to shut down one of its major highways due to concrete cancer.

The term concrete cancer is often used to describe what happens to engineering concrete, when water seeps in and causes corrosion in the metal bars reinforcing concrete. However, concrete cancer also happens in your ordinary, run-of-the-mill concrete.

How does it occur?

Once water penetrates the surface of concrete, in whatever form it takes, it can react with the chemical composition of concrete to weaken it. As the BBC explains, the calcium oxide in concrete reacts to water, forming an alkali that in turn reacts to the silica in cement, creating a gel that expands as it absorbs water. This pushes the concrete further apart.

As the cracks get bigger, this allows more water to enter the surface of the concrete. In winter time, this can lead to further freeze-thaw spalling, creating ever bigger fissures in the concrete.

How do I stop it from happening?

Our headline may have been somewhat misleading – while you can cure concrete cancer, it’s an expensive, laborious and time-consuming process. Preventing it in the first place is the wiser idea.

Dry-Treat’s STAIN-PROOF Original™ is a sealer that provides long-lasting protection to concrete from damage caused by water, and could well be the cure before the cure.

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