How to Avoid Concrete Failure

How to Avoid Concrete Failure

While concrete is extremely strong, it can also be very brittle if it’s not properly mixed and cured. Concrete failure can occur in a variety of ways because of the versatility of this material and all of its applications.

Each type of failure is different and has its own causes and solutions. It’s important to understand how these common types of failures occur so that your project is not negatively affected.

Keep reading to learn 5 tips for preventing concrete failure.

1. Avoid trapped air 

Trapped air bubbles in concrete can cause it to fail. Concrete is a mixture of gravel, sand, and cement (among other ingredients), and when this mix gets poured into forms or molds, trapped air bubbles can form. 

These bubbles result in weak spots that aren’t able to handle pressure.

To avoid trapped air when mixing concrete, ideally, you should hire a professional with a mixer truck rather than attempting to mix and pour on your own. 

When mixing on your own, you risk adding too much water to the mix or mixing it for too long. This can cause small cracks and fissures which will leave your concrete vulnerable as well. 

2. Don’t overload concrete forms

Overloading concrete is another common cause of concrete failure. While concrete is one of the strongest materials on the planet, different types have different limits. For example, reinforced concrete should be used if you anticipate supporting a large weight or structure.

Unfortunately, some cheap contractors like to cut corners here by using the wrong type of concrete to complete the job faster. Then, once heavy loads are placed on the concrete, it cracks.

3. Always use good quality raw materials

Using good quality raw materials is another way to avoid concrete failure. This goes for both the sand and gravel used in your mix as well as the cement itself.

If you’re not using a reputable supplier, there’s no telling what sorts of additives they may be including in their products (or if any at all). 

For example, recycled or fly ash cement can sometimes be used in place of traditional Portland cement. While this is cheaper, it also has a shorter lifespan and may not meet the standards you’re looking for.

The same goes for sand or gravel that doesn’t measure up to your specifications. If it’s too coarse, the concrete mix won’t have enough cohesion between particles which can cause the material to crumble.

If you want strong, durable, and long-lasting concrete, always make sure to use a reputable contractor and supplier for raw materials.

4. Use water treated with low levels of dissolved sulphate

Using water with low levels of dissolved sulphate is another way to avoid concrete failure. You see, metal ions (especially iron or steel) can lead to the formation of rust within your concrete mix which will make it vulnerable and prone to cracking.

The easiest thing you can do here is use deionized water in place of tap water. If this isn’t available, try to use water with low levels of dissolved sulphate. This will prevent the metal ions from being deposited into your concrete mix which will result in a stronger material overall.

5. Don’t use high-silica aggregates in areas with high humidity

If you’re using high-silica aggregates in areas with high humidity, you may run into concrete failure. This is because the aggregates will absorb moisture from the air, leading to cracks within your material over time.

For example, if you’re creating a sidewalk or patio in a high-humidity area like Louisiana, and you use this sort of aggregate without a waterproof coating, you may be in for a rude awakening.

6. Hire the professionals

Concrete failure is expensive. The best way to avoid it is by hiring the professionals at Port Aggregates.

At PAI, our professional concrete contractors are skilled in creating bubble-free, high-quality pours in high-humidity areas like Louisiana.  We use only the best quality materials for our mixes and never cut corners to save money or time. 

Contact us today to request a quote for your next residential or commercial project!

The post How to Avoid Concrete Failure appeared first on Port Aggregates.

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How Rip Rap Helps With Erosion Prevention

How Rip Rap Helps With Erosion Prevention

erosion prevention

Every 100 minutes, the Louisiana coast loses an entire football field’s worth of wetlands to erosion.

If you’ve ever been near the coast, chances are that you’ve seen rip rap in place to prevent this from happening.

Rip rap is a type of large rock that’s often made of crushed granite. Manmade or natural, these rocks are often about a foot in diameter and offer several benefits.

The many advantages of rip rap

Rock rip rap is used to protect streambanks, channels, slopes, shorelines, inlets, outlets, and many other erosion-prone areas. It stabilizes and fills slopes that are unstable due to seepage and helps slow the velocity of concentrated runoff. 

Not to mention, it’s also extremely easy to use and install, requiring virtually no maintenance. When placed over a filler material such as fabric, sand, or gravel, it can prevent soil from seeping through the stone and protect the underlying natural material.

Uniform vs. graded

Rip rap comes in two forms: uniform and graded. Uniform rip rap is delivered in pieces that are similar in size, whereas graded comes in a variety of different sizes. Graded rip rap is cheaper to install and better at withstanding stone movement, which is why it’s often preferred over uniform. 

Port Aggregates offers three types of rip rap: 10lb rip rap (6-10”), 30lb rip rap, and 55lb rip rap. Whether your goal is to prevent erosion or simply create a garden, we’ve got just what you need. Our high-quality crushed limestone is available in numerous sizes to suit your special needs. Contact us today to request a quote

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3 Benefits of a Stamped Concrete Patio

After last year, we can all use a little extra fun this summer.

Not ready to go out yet? No worries!

By adding a patio to your backyard or enhancing your current one, you can bring the party straight to your house.

A stamped concrete patio is one of the best investments you can make this summer for a few reasons:

1. The material is unmatched

Compared to other popular choices like wood or pavers, stamped concrete is substantially more durable, easier to install, and requires a lot less maintenance. Not to mention, it can mimic the appearance of any other material at the most budget-friendly price on the market. 

2. It can be made to match any style

The stamped concrete process is pretty self-explanatory. It gets its appearance through specially-designed rubber roller stamps that are pressed into the wet material. Whether you want your slab to look like tile, wood, brick, or precious stone, it’s all possible. 

The options are truly endless with this type of concrete. Using stains, dyes, colored epoxy finishes, engravings, and overlays, your patio can be made to match any color scheme and incorporate any special logos, designs, patterns, or other features. 

3.  It opens up the door to so many possibilities

A stamped concrete patio can transform your yard into the ultimate summer fun space. Have you always wanted an outdoor kitchen? Are your kids fantasizing about roasting marshmallows over an open fire this summer?

All of this is possible when you have a beautiful outdoor space to gather. No matter what your style or taste is, you can make your dreams come true with a stamped concrete patio. 

Don’t let COVID steal another summer. Turn your home into the ultimate staycation resort with decorative concrete! At Port Aggregates, we’re here to help you create the perfect concrete patio to match your unique taste.

With more than 40 years in business and 24 locations across Louisiana, our contractors are well-versed in decorative concrete installation and design. Contact Port Aggregates today to request a quote

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How to Remove Stains From Concrete Flooring

One of the biggest concerns that people have when it comes to concrete flooring is how to clean it efficiently.

Fortunately, removing stains from a concrete floor is not nearly as difficult or complicated as it sounds. 

Here are a few stain removal tricks to help you maintain spectacular looking concrete floors.

Removing paint stains

Timing is everything when it comes to a paint stain on concrete flooring. For the best results, it’s critical to act as quickly as possible. 

For a fresh spill, start by putting on goggles for eye protection, then mix together one cup of trisodium phosphate (TSP) with four liters of hot water. Pour the mixture over the paint, scrub it with a long brush, and pressure rinse it until the stain is removed. 

Unfortunately, if you’re dealing with a very large spill, there may always be a slight hint of color left on the concrete.

Removing oil

Oil stains are some of the ugliest, most stubborn stains out there. If possible, try to absorb the oil as soon as you notice it so that it doesn’t penetrate into the concrete. 

Believe it or not, your best bet against a fresh oil stain is to pour cat litter or mud over it, then scrub with a stiff brush or broom. Leave the cat litter or mud on top of the stain for at least an hour before sweeping it away. For tougher stains, leave it overnight.

If this doesn’t completely do the trick, mix together one cup of TSP with hot water, then pour this on top of the stain. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before scrubbing with a rigid nylon brush and hosing it off with pressurized water. 

Removing mud

When mud is left for too long on concrete flooring, it can leave an ugly brown stain. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest stains to remove. Simply mix together some dishwashing detergent and warm water into a spray bottle, shake it, and squirt it over the stain. Let it sit for around 10 minutes, then scrub it off with a nylon brush and rinse with a high-pressure hose.

Removing rust stains

Unfortunately, rust stains on concrete are quite difficult to remove entirely. Large, old rust stains often require a special rust remover. But for smaller, newer rust stains, using vinegar is your best bet. 

Just pour it on the stain, let it sit for at least 10 minutes before scrubbing with a nylon brush, and its acidic properties will eat away the rust. Rinsing and repeating may be required. 

Looking for more tips on concrete and how to clean it? Check out the Port Aggregates blog

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Your Guide to Exposed Aggregate Concrete

Your Guide to Exposed Aggregate Concrete

Concrete is much more than just a place to park your car or a foundation for your home.

When starting your next project, it’s important to be aware of your options. This material can really be quite beautiful if you know what to ask for.

The possibilities are endless, but today, let’s take a closer look at exposed aggregate concrete.

What is exposed aggregate concrete?

Over 100 years old, the exposed aggregate technique quite literally “paved” the way for decorative concrete. 

The name pretty much says it all. In this type of concrete, a thin top layer is intentionally removed to expose the aggregate underneath. The exposed layer can include sandgravel, quartzite, or crushed glass.

Gravel is most commonly used, and a variety of different sizes are available to give you the desired texture that you want. See example below.

exposed aggregate concrete

Benefits of exposed aggregate

Exposed aggregate concrete offers infinite benefits. The most glaring advantage is its gorgeous appearance and satisfying texture. It adds a natural element to any area, and the three-dimensional surface is completely customizable. 

Another advantage to this type of decorative concrete is its increased traction. Rough surfaces like these are ideal for helping you keep your footing–even when the surface is wet or icy. It can even be customized to stick out at certain levels, if you so desire.

One of the main reasons why exposed aggregate is so popular is its price. It’s one of the least expensive types of decorative concrete available, and is an affordable alternative to standard, drab concrete.

Maintenance tips

Like any other type of concrete, exposed aggregate offers immense durability and is very low-maintenance. 

Proper care includes regular sweeping or rinsing off with a hose. It should also be resealed every couple of years. Fortunately, the color of the aggregates will not fade over time, and it’s actually the easiest type of decorative concrete to keep up with.

Repairs (if necessary) are quite simple, and exposed aggregate can last for decades if properly cared for and installed by professionals. At Port Aggregates, our expert concrete contractors have decades’ worth of experience built every pour. Contact us today to request a quote

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5 Benefits of Using Precast Concrete in Large Scale Projects

5 Benefits of Using Precast Concrete in Large Scale Projects

Precast concrete is one of the most popular construction materials used in large-scale construction projects. 

It’s durable, comes in any desired shade or color, and can be manufactured into virtually any shape. 

But the benefits don’t stop there. 

There are several other advantages of this special type of concrete, including: 

1. Longer shelf life than other types of concrete

Precast concrete has a longer shelf life than other types of concrete like traditional ready mix

This is because precast concrete is mixed, poured into molds, and allowed to dry inside the mold before transporting. 

The longer it stays fresh and dry before being used in your project, the longer it will remain strong and beautiful.

2. Low maintenance costs

Precast concrete structures are generally easy to clean. 

This is because they don’t have the same porous issues that other types of construction materials might experience when exposed to water or weathering over time.

Concrete’s smooth, solid surface doesn’t hold onto dirt and grime like sandstone or brick pavers do for instance, so it’s easier to keep clean. 

As a result, you won’t have to worry about spending money on labor costs for ongoing cleaning projects or hiring a professional company every year.

3. Reusability for future projects

Although precast concrete is extremely durable and long-lasting, there are certain companies that can take it apart or break it down if needed. 

This allows you to save money by reusing the material for future construction projects.

When working on a large-scale project, this can significantly lighten your financial burden. 

Precast concrete can be repurposed into a variety of different forms when designing large-scale projects, including piers, columns, structural frames for buildings, and beams. 

You’ll have the ability to customize your project based on your specific needs or desired aesthetics in order to achieve that perfect look with precast concrete components.

4. Sustainability

Using eco-friendly, recyclable construction materials like precast concrete is a great way to be more sustainable. 

Because it’s easier on the environment, it will result in lower levels of pollution over time. This helps benefit everyone involved, including people who live or work near your building site.

5. High quality

One thing you’ll notice about using precast concrete from Port Aggregates is its high quality.

Because it’s durable and long-lasting, it can be used for a variety of different purposes, withstanding harsh weather in any environment. 

Along with its high quality, precast concrete is also very cost effective and its design can be customized based on your specific needs or desired aesthetics. 

At Port Aggregates, all of our concrete products are made with the highest quality materials. It’s why we’ve been trusted for over 40 years! Contact us today to request a quote for your next large scale project.

The post 5 Benefits of Using Precast Concrete in Large Scale Projects appeared first on Port Aggregates.

Concrete Abrasion Resistance: The Bad, the Good, and the Better (Interview Part 3)

Concrete Abrasion Resistance: The Bad, the Good, and the Better (Interview Part 3)

Last time in this interview series, we looked at just how effective Hard-Cem is as a solution for increasing concrete abrasion resistance. (For a recap, take a look at our first part and second part in this interview series!)

Unlike conventional surface-applied products, Hard-Cem has a worry-free application process. And on top of that, it has been proven to be effective through third-party testing. Part of that testing involved a modified ASTM C627 test, which showed just how resistant Hard-Cem made concrete to abrasive forces.

However, that’s not all it has going for it. Hard-Cem can also help construction professionals with their sustainability efforts. To see how, we asked Kryton Technical Director Jeff Bowman for more insight.

First, why don’t we review the environmental concerns surrounding concrete?

I’m sure many people are aware that roughly, for every 1 ton of Portland cement that’s manufactured, 1 ton of CO2 is released into the atmosphere. But of course, we don’t make buildings out of cement. We make them out of concrete. So I think it’s more useful to look at the final carbon load of the concrete itself.

Where can we learn about the final carbon load of concrete?

Now, there are many industry resources for this. The one that I’d like to draw from today is the Canadian Ready-Mixed Concrete Association’s environmental product declaration. It has a wide range of information and breaks concrete down by strength class. It also publishes industry benchmarks for each strength class.

But for just a broad view of the information displayed, you can see that depending on the concrete strength and many other factors, the carbon load of that concrete is normally going to range about 250 kg to 500 kg of CO2 per cubic meter of concrete.

That’s a significant environmental investment. So you really want to make sure your concrete is going to be durable and last a long time with minimal maintenance.

How does Hard-Cem help mitigate this carbon issue?

Well, first of all, just by having Hard-Cem reduce the wear and tear of abrasion on a concrete slab, you’re reducing, delaying, and often preventing some of that maintenance activity you’d otherwise need to do to replace that concrete or grind it down and resurface it. You can avoid using more concrete to fix it at a later time.

Hard-Cem-treated concrete (as seen on the right) can get double the wear life and an increased resistance to abrasion and erosion compared to regular concrete (as seen on the left).
Hard-Cem can also help you make more efficient choices with your concrete. Sometimes, the structural requirements of a project are satisfied with a typical mid-strength concrete.

But to ensure good abrasion resistance, a higher strength concrete is used instead. This increases the carbon footprint and is an inefficient use of resources. Hard-Cem may allow the lower strength option to be used instead while still designing for abrasion resistance. This can allow the use of more environmentally efficient concrete without sacrificing abrasion performance.

So, Hard-Cem can help reduce the carbon footprint now and down the road?

Yes, it can.

Remember, depending on the application, oftentimes, a higher strength concrete may introduce some problems that are actually detrimental to the overall performance of the job, such as increased shrinkage, cracking, and curling.

So using a more conventional mix with Hard-Cem can help you avoid these problems while still achieving excellent abrasion durability.

To get high-strength concrete, builders can add more silica fume or cement. However, silica fume’s maximum abrasion resistance increase is 13%. And to double that resistance with cement, builders would need 80% more cement content.

What about Hard-Cem’s carbon footprint?

The carbon footprint of Hard-Cem is very small. It’s only a percentage or two of the overall mix. As we often see with admixtures, it gives you very good performance value relative to its environmental impact.

What does all that mean for the lifetime carbon footprint of a structure?

Being able to produce a sustainable mix now is a very worthy goal. But it’s true that it’s also important to take a look at the lifetime carbon footprint of that structure. Depending on the maintenance and replacement cycle, the lifetime carbon footprint can be much higher than the original construction cost.

Now, we have a really interesting case study on this: the New Afton Mine. This is near Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, and was built in 2011.

In the ore collection and processing area, within three years, the mine had so much wear and tear just from the mining equipment. And with the ore on the ground being pressed into the concrete and ground between those wheels, the owners had to replace, not just resurface but replace, the concrete in that area within only three years. So they were set on a three-year replacement interval, which is not very sustainable.

But in 2014, they replaced it with Hard-Cem concrete, and that concrete is still performing today. So what you can see here is that by investing in durability, they’ve been able to skip at least two replacement events. And they’re actually partway through what would have been their third.

Ever since Hard-Cem was added into replacement concrete for the mine, the mine has provided six continuous years of service without the need for more concrete replacement work.

In short, Hard-Cem has reduced the lifetime carbon footprint by almost 50%. And that’s just so far.

Thank you for all that detail, Jeff! It seems that Hard-Cem really will protect concrete against abrasion better than traditional methods. It’s also easy to install and doesn’t change a concrete mix’s properties. And on top of that, it reduces your carbon footprint, increases the durability and life cycle of your concrete, and has been in successful performance for years. What more could you ask for from a concrete hardening solution!

Finding the best product to increase concrete wear life isn't hard. It's Hard-Cem. Click here to learn more.

The post Concrete Abrasion Resistance: The Bad, the Good, and the Better (Interview Part 3) appeared first on Kryton.

4 Benefits of Using Concrete for Your Commercial Flooring

4 Benefits of Using Concrete for Your Commercial Flooring

When it comes to commercial flooring, concrete is one of the most popular choices.

For both creative and practical reasons, many businesses typically choose concrete floors for their stores, patios, and walkways. 

On top of being durable and easy to install, this type of flooring also offers an array of other benefits, including:

1. Infinite design possibilities

Concrete flooring is available in a wide range of colors and patterns. Any hue can be created to accent your commercial property’s interior.

In addition to picking from an array of beautiful colors, you can also create a unique custom design. For example, you may want a pattern or logo that matches the branding of your business. Some concrete contractors are even capable of creating specialty textures with stamped concrete that replicate wood grain or natural stone materials.

2. Easy to clean

If you have a high volume of foot traffic in your commercial property, concrete is the perfect flooring option. Not only does it withstand heavy use and wear and tear, but concrete floors don’t absorb dirt or moisture, making spills much easier to spot and wipe up. All you need is a mop or broom

Concrete floors are also more resistant to water damage, so your property is better protected against leaks and spills that can cause significant damage otherwise.

This type of flooring also doesn’t harbor allergens or bacteria, so it’s perfect for high-traffic facilities like hospitals where many people may be affected by dust particles and other allergens that accumulate in carpets or rugs.

3. Reduces noise pollution and energy costs

Concrete offers a high degree of sound insulation, which can be especially useful in the workplace.

If you work in an environment where there’s a lot of phone conversations and meetings taking place throughout the day, concrete floors will act as an effective barrier against the noise, rather than amplifying it like carpet does.

Additionally, concrete floors will also help keep your energy bill down in the long term because they offer a high degree of thermal insulation. This means that you won’t have to adjust your heating and cooling system as much throughout the winter or summer months.

4. Lasts up to 40 years

Concrete floors can last for decades (up to 40 years) as long as they’re properly maintained and installed.

With this type of flooring, you won’t have to deal with the hassle of replacing materials every few years, saving you time and money in the long term. However, it’s important to note that concrete isn’t perfect; you will likely need to repair a few cracks here and there as time goes on. Otherwise, these imperfections will compromise the integrity of your flooring and make it susceptible to further damage.

Fortunately, these types of repairs are relatively minor and can be completed in a matter of hours by a professional contractor without too much trouble. 

While there are many distinct advantages to using concrete for your commercial flooring, the success or failure of your project ultimately depends on picking the right contractor. Our professionals at Port Aggregates are highly skilled in creating beautiful, precise pours every time. Contact us today to request a quote

The post 4 Benefits of Using Concrete for Your Commercial Flooring appeared first on Port Aggregates.

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Concrete Abrasion Resistance: The Bad, the Good, and the Better (Interview Part 2)

Concrete Abrasion Resistance: The Bad, the Good, and the Better (Interview Part 2)

In our first part of this interview series, we discussed why concrete abrasion is such an issue for concrete construction and how it’s often treated. (For all the details, give it a read!) Most of the solutions discussed were shown to be complicated and ineffective. But we ended on a positive note, briefly talking about a solution that could offer a more worry-free way to increase concrete abrasion resistance.

That solution turned out to be Hard-Cem. As the only integral concrete hardener on the market, it offers a unique advantage to construction workers. With Hard-Cem, workers only have to add it to the concrete mix during batching, and that’s it. Hard-Cem doesn’t need a complicated application process and has been shown to be effective at what it does. And what it does is double your concrete’s wear life while increasing your concrete’s resistance to abrasion and erosion.

But is all that too good to be true? How does Hard-Cem actually perform? To look into it, we asked our previous contributors, Technical Director Jeff Bowman and Kryton Western Canada Territory Manager John Andersen, to give us the details.

Let's talk concrete abrasion with Technical Director Jeff Bowman and Western Canada Territory Manager John Andersen.

So, why don’t we start by talking about the performance you can expect to see when you use Hard-Cem for increased concrete abrasion resistance?

Jeff: To answer that, let’s first review some of the test methods you could use for abrasion resistance.

There are several established test methods published by ASTM. But the one I’d like to highlight today is ASTM C627 (also known as the Robinson floor test based on the machine that is used for the testing).

Now, what’s really interesting about this test is that it applies a much higher load and a much longer test duration than many of the other methods that people might use.

During the Robinson floor test, Hard-Cem proved that it could double abrasion resistance compared to control concrete with 25 MPa (3,000 psi).
And early in the days of Hard-Cem’s development, Dr. Rusty Morgan, working with AMEC, recommended using this test and adapting it to increase the load and the test time to make it more useful as a test for the abrasion resistance of concrete. One of the advantages of this adaption is that because the test panel is quite large, it allows you to get a more realistic look at real-world finishing conditions that you might use for your concrete.

Essentially, during the test, wheels rotate around the concrete, allowing you to measure the depth of wear directly just by using a pair of depth calipers.

A common result for this is a very straightforward, plain concrete mix of 25 MPa [3,000 psi] with about 1.8 mm of wear depth. And after 5,000 revolutions, the depth of wear of the Hard-Cem concrete is reduced by about half compared to your plain concrete. So it creates a very significant increase in the abrasion resistance of that slab.

How does Hard-Cem perform against competing products like dry shakes?

Jeff: There are a range of dry shake materials, products, and aggregates.

Some of them do perform really well.

But if you look at our Robinson floor test results comparing Hard-Cem with different dry shakes, Hard-Cem came in with the lowest wear depth at just under 1 mm, whereas other dry shakes that were tested next to it had around 1 mm to 3 mm of wear depth.

So, you’re getting excellent abrasion resistance and you’re getting the additional advantage of a simple and reliable installation. And you’re not making any compromises on the performance of that concrete.

The Robinson floor test also showed that Hard-Cem would keep concrete wear depth to under 1 mm where several dry shake products could not.

re there any case studies about Hard-Cem’s performance?

John: Certainly! I can share a couple right now.

This first one happened 14 years ago. It was a CorLiving facility that was built half with Hard-Cem concrete and half with regular concrete. So it was a good in-service test of control concrete versus the performance you can see with Hard-Cem concrete.

The facility team later invited us in to have a look at the facility’s concrete to see how it performed. And there was a clear visual divide. In one area, it was nice and shiny with nice, straight edges on the concrete. This was the Hard-Cem concrete, and it was right next to the regular concrete, which had broken edges and was worn out and dusty.

It’s a good example of what you can see when you put Hard-Cem in your concrete.

14 years at a CorLiving facility had barely affected the Hard-Cem concrete on the left, while the untreated concrete on the right had already started to wear and gather dust.

Another good example is this second case study for a concrete company. They placed Hard-Cem concrete in the exit area for their concrete batch plant trucks as a way to demonstrate the performance of Hard-Cem to their customers.

Even after four years at a busy concrete batch plant truck exit, the Hard-Cem kept its brush finish, while the untreated concrete to the left had lost its surface paste.
After four years, they came back and took a look, and you could see the control concrete with the heavy machinery, loaders, and concrete trucks driving over it. It was really ground down and its concrete paste had worn away, whereas with the Hard-Cem concrete, you could still clearly see the original broom finish marks in it and its paste was completely intact.



We’ve proven that Hard-Cem can be highly effective with no application hassle. But does it have any other benefits worth talking about? We’ll look more into that on the third and final part of this interview series.

Download our e-book today to find out why the industry is moving away from surface-applied concrete hardeners.

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