Fall Concrete Repair

By Brian Adams, PCM Concrete Division Manager | October 9, 2014


Why Fall?

Under certain conditions, a strong argument can be made that the best time for such repair is the fall.

Spalling is the most common problem affecting concrete. If your concrete has cracked, flaked or become pitted, you have spalling concrete. As a rule, spalling results from a combination of poor installation and environmental factors that put a lot of stress on the concrete surface, causing it to become damaged.

While some spalling can be merely cosmetic in nature, it can also cause structural damage. For example, it can result in damage to the reinforcing bars positioned inside the concrete. This is why it is really important to address spalling as soon as it starts to develop.

If your concrete sidewalks are affected by spalling and the problem appears to be spreading, waiting for the spring will not be the best solution for three reasons:

  1. First, the harsh winter weather is likely to worsen the condition of your pavement and that means you will end up paying more to repair your concrete.
  2. Second, allowing the condition of your concrete to worsen only increases the severity of your trip hazards and increases your liability risk.
  3. Third, spalling damages curb appeal. What will be the first impression of your prospective residents when they tour your community during the winter months and see all that cracking and disrepair? And how will your existing residents feel about it?

Fall is a perfect time of year to repair concrete because temperatures are not too hot or cold. Concrete can be repaired prior to the first winter storms.

Questions to Ask Your Concrete Company

There are many things that managers need to keep in mind while discussing concrete repair with contractors.

  • What are the appropriate permit requirements, utility infrastructure and ADA compliance regulations?
  • Are you able to match the new concrete to the old concrete?
  • Will my residents, vendors, and/or team members have issues accessing the facility or property?
  • Be sure to to communicate the upcoming repairs to residents not only because of potential access problems, but also because the equipment needed for this work is very loud and can be disruptive. A consistent communication flow can help manage resident expectations and minimize the negative impact of a concrete repair project.
  • Establish a firm project timeline with your contractor and communicate it to your residents so they know when the project starts and ends. If the weather interrupts your project and it needs to be postponed, make sure that your residents receive prompt updates about your new schedule.
  • Weather is not the only thing that can go wrong during a concrete project. If someone begins to walk on freshly laid concrete before it is property cured, this can have a disastrous aesthetic effect and may result in the need to redo the work. We recommend you wait at least 24 hours prior to walking on the newly laid concrete and at least 5 days for vehicles. When in doubt, ask your contractor when it is completely safe to begin to use new sidewalks and communicate this information to every resident.
  • Is the repair site clearly marked to prevent uninformed residents walking in the area that is being repaired?

Cement vs. Concrete: What’s the difference?

What kind of sidewalks do you have at your property? Are they cement or concrete? In case you don’t know, although the terms “cement” and “concrete” are often used interchangeably, cement is actually a component of concrete. So, there is no such thing as a cement sidewalk.

The proper term is concrete sidewalk, and that’s what you are likely to have at your property. Concrete is the most widely used construction material in the world. It can be molded into any shape that will then harden into a strong and durable material that is perfect for outdoor applications. But concrete cracks and deteriorates with time. If your sidewalks and pathways are in need of repair, the spring and fall are the best seasons to take care of them.

Concrete is made up of approximately:

  • 6% air
  • 11% Portland cement
  • 41% gravel or crushed stone (coarse aggregate)
  • 26% sand (fine aggregate)
  • 16% water

In its simplest form, concrete is a mixture of paste and aggregates. The paste (Portland cement and water) coats the surface of the aggregates. Through a chemical reaction called “hydration,” the paste hardens and gains strength to form the rock-like mass we know as concrete.

This is why there is no such thing as a cement sidewalk.

How Much and Living Happily Thereafter

Pricing for common removal and replacement of concrete depends on many factors. For the most part, they relate to the volume of work, access conditions and concrete thickness. Typically, the price per square foot of concrete repair starts at $7.00 and goes up, depending on project’s size, concrete thickness and access.

If everything is going right and your contractor follows the proper installation requirements, your new sidewalks will look beautiful and serve your community well for years to come. Concrete is really hard and durable and after it has set and fully cured, it’s pretty simple to maintain.

There is one thing, however, that managers should be aware of to keep their sidewalks beautiful longer. Besides letting the concrete cure properly before use, instruct your maintenance team not to overuse calcium chloride snow melt pellets. Calcium chloride tends to leave an oily residue on concrete surfaces and will discolor concrete. According to the American Concrete Institute, a leading U.S. concrete authority, magnesium chloride, ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate attack and disintegrate concrete and should be strictly avoided.

Sealing concrete in the fall is an effective preventative maintenance measure. The sealant will protect it against the calcium and salts used for snow removal and help keep concrete from spalling.

We are proud to announce this blog has been featured in the October 2014 issue of the PMA BULLETINthe official monthly magazine of the Property Management Association (PMA).