Almost two weeks ago I had 3,100 sq ft of concrete poured for a driveway and
apron in front of the garage. I was told to let it cure for 7-10 days
before driving on it. We gave it 9 days before pulling one car into the
13 days after pouring, I've noticed I have 3 major cracks in 3 separate
sections. The cracks run right through the expansion joints, from one side
to the other of the drive and are spaced about 20ft apart. They are about
100ft from the garage and apron sections.
The contractor is coming over this week to check it out and I'm wondering
what demands I can make to cure this? He has not been paid yet!
What are my reasonable options to fix this?
Was the contractor supposed to do all of the work involved in this
driveway or just pour the concrete? You mention not using the driveway
until it cured but not how the curing was done or who was responsible for
this. I'd guess based on what little info you provide that the driveway was
not properly cured or the ground under the driveway wasn't prepped, or the
wrong concrete was used. It needs to be completely redone. I'd suggest that
you get the contractor's insurance info and look for another contractor
unless you were doing most of the work yourself.
No, he was hired to do all the prep work and pouring, finishing etc. They
excavated down, laid rebar etc. It looked normal to me, not that I'm an
expert. I basically live on top of a gravel pit, so no matter how far you
go down, it's all gravel/sand base. Now as far as curing, what's to be done
except stay off of it. I heard you wet it down every couple of days to help
it cure but we had rain on day 2 and day 5 after pouring. He gave me no
instructions to do anything.
Are you saying that there is a crack at the bottom of the expansion
joint and that is your question? If so, call back the contractor apologize
and thank him for doing a good job. Those "expansion joints" are there to
provide a place for the concrete to crack, since we all know it is going to
do it the joint just provides and nice neat weak spot.
I'm saying I have 3 erratic cracks that have appeared in three different
sections of the pour. They cut expansion joints down the center of the
drive and then also cut them about every 20ft across the driveway. The
cracks run across the drive, from one side to the other, and they don't stop
at the center expansion joints, they continue across the entire width of the
drive. They are not near the horizontal expansion joints and I'm not Irish!
There can be a lot of variation but generally speaking, concrete will
crack every 15 feet to 20 Feet if there is not a joint placed to force
a crack at the joint. If the concrete had any areas that were more
then 15 to 20 feet between joints then there is a risk of a crack
between those joints. And that's with good concrete that's cured
properly. If the concrete was low strength or didn't get a good cure
it could crack at closer spacing. You said it had steel in it but I'm
assuming it's just temperature steel, the typical mesh stuff, not real
rebar closely spaced as would be used in a true reinforced concrete
slab. True reinforced concrete slabs generally will not crack with
wide cracks at 15+ spacing but will form very small cracks every 4 to
8 feet. Temperature steel won't stop cracking, it just helps hold the
crack closed and might make the spacing a little farther apart.
I'm not sure what you mean. The crack is at the expansion joint like it is
supposed to be? That is what the joints are for. Yes, it will go clear
through, top to bottom, side to side, as the concrete expands and contracts.
They prevent the rest of the slab from cracking. Am I missing something?
Are there other cracks in the pour?
As for demands, why demand anything until he sees it and either explains
what the joint is there for, or offers a remedy if I am mistaken in my
I'll try this one more time. I know the difference between an expansion
joint and a crack. These are 3 distinct cracks running the width of the
driveway in each case!
They excavated down over 4 inches and as I stated previously the property
is sitting on a gravel/sand base. They used the power compacters, laid
rebar. I'm going to guess the rebar was half inch diameter and the grid
work they attached to it was 4 inch square.
No tree roots.
It sounds as if the saw joints were performed too late. Saw
joints and jointer tracks are control joints. Tar joints are
expansion joints. Cold joints are construction joints.
The best dollars spent are on the preparation of the sub grade.
Good compaction, uniform slab thickness, do not allow concrete
trucks on compacted grade are all good practices. I pour most
concrete without rebar or remesh.
Rebar should not continue through joints. I would limit the
distance between saw joints to 12 feet or less. Saw joints should
be performed on the same day as the pour as soon as the slab can
be cut without raveling.
The slab should be cured. GOOD:Cure with curing compound applied
by the contractor immediately after pouring. BETTER: visqueen
cover with water trapped on the slab (this often leaves a mottled
appearance and /or visqueen printing) BEST: total immersion
accomplished by building an appropriate dam around the pour -
usually not possible on sloped drives, etc. The water cure should
be applied for +/- 7 days. Keep heavy objects (cars, trucks, etc)
off the concrete for a minimum of 3 days, preferred 7 days to
allow the concrete to make enough initial strength to deal with
These are all givens about concrete. Here is another: Concrete
will crack. The trick is to get it to crack where you want it to,
preferably in a neat straight line. Sometimes there is just no
simple answer to why concrete cracks where it does. Heat
shrinkage, hot rebar, design mix, finishing techniques, wind, hot
sun all have profound effects on concrete.
I hope that you and your contractor can arrive at a solution that
is equitable to both of you. Remember he has a lot of time and
material in this job already. I do not guarantee concrete not to
crack, in fact, I make owners aware of the potential before hand.
I am also aware that you have money and quality expectations that
should be part of the overall resolution.
(top posted for your convenience)
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
DanG (remove the sevens)
It took two days to pour the drive because of rain. The saw joints ( I was
mistakenly calling them expansion joints) were cut in on the third day.
No way not to have the concrete truck on the compacted area. It's either
that or ruin the lawn.
Perhaps the saw joints are no more than 12ft apart, plus there is one down
the center of the entire driveway. I was guessing on distance, doing this
No vehicle traffic for 9 nine days.
So he's coming tomorrow and what would be a reasonable expectation on my
part. OK, maybe all concrete will eventually crack, but jeez I didn't
expect it in two weeks.
I was doing this drive over two years and next year there is still another
250 ft of drive to pour so that gives me a little leverage... maybe.
How would you try and make me, the customer, happy?
Remember there are two injured parties here. His reputation, good
will, referrals and the money for this project. YOU! Try to
approach the issue together, not as adversaries. See what ideas
he may have.
Possible remedies to discuss:
Minimum, rout and caulk (pavement seal like Vulcem or SL1) the
cracks that did occur.
Maximum, remove and replace sections with cracks. Be aware, this
method has the potential for stains on the concrete and will
require either a pump or wheelbarrow pour. The end result will
surely be a different color. The cure may be worse than where you
There are epoxies made for filling the cracks and very expensive
overlay products to color the entire top.
(top posted for your convenience)
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
DanG (remove the sevens)
Slabs crack, u can try to contol them, but the simple realiuty is slabs
crack in spite of controls and strengths. Hi-test concrete is more prone to
cracks! Aside from obvious stuff like the crete being air entrained @5% and
plastized to min water content, wet or damp cure for 28 days is most
important. u can drive normal cars the next day while cure takes place.
This should hsve been damp cured with burlap sacks or a product called
'polytarp' which sprays on surfaces.
BTW, most of the concrete slab work i have seen while in the states is of
poor finish and quality, even rudimentary skills are not present. In canada
it would not even pass inspection. A lot has to do with most concrete
laborers in canda being italian or portuguese while blacks and hispanics are
used in the untied states.
Remove the obvious to reply. Experienced and reliable
Concrete Finishing and Synthetic Stucco application in the GTA.
Has nothing to do with hispanic, black, italian, portuguese workers... It
is more the fact that many people will go with the cheapest quote, instead
of going with the licensed contracters, that hire trully skilled and
licensed help. Skilled workers cost alot more, but quite often you get what
you pay for.
Here in Montreal, I've dealt with quite a few Italian contractors, and I've
seen my share of good, and bad. The good ones do cost a bit more, however
they stand behind thier work and rarely take any money up front... I
usually go after them to pay them. They've done brick work, and even some
foundation work for me, and 20 years later, the works looks just as good as
new. No crumbling, no leaks, etc....
Cracking in Concrete can happen for various reasons, and sometimes, no
matter how much of a precaustion you take, it will happen. Nowadays, many
of the cement suppliers have alot of options, many will gladly test the
concrete from the truck before pouring to test for proper consistency, air
entraining, etc... Also offer fiber reenforced concrete for extreme weather
cases, and pours for stuff like stairs and large slabs...
The contractors competence is not dictated by the crack in such a large
pour. However how he decides to address it with the customer is the big
Met with the contractor today and it is his opinion there was a problem with
the load. The sections that cracked, he called them contraction cracks, are
all from load #3 of 5 loads so he's trying to get the cement company to pay.
Now as far as other things I had a chance to measure today and the saw cuts
are all 9.5 feet apart. The sections that cracked were poured at noon and
cut starting around 8am the next day.
So far the only options offered seem to be cut it out and redo with the
cement co paying for the cement and he implied him kicking in some of the
labor but I didn't push that yet. Option two was I keep any money received
from the cement co and ignore the cracks. He claims the cracks will not get
significantly larger over time. The 3 sections involved consist of around
320 sq ft. and would require wheelbarrow to pour.
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