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Tired of Concrete Repairs? Is Thirsty Concrete a Viable Option?

If you own a storefront with an attached parking lot, you may feel you're constantly chasing repairs—from post-winter potholes and deep cracks that have formed in your parking lot to chips and crevices on the sides of your building. However, enlisting a contractor to perform estimates and make repairs each time you notice a new concrete defect can be time-consuming and expensive. In some cases, upgrading to "thirsty concrete" for your next repaving or tuck-pointing project can help you create a durable, long-lasting surface that is much less vulnerable to moisture and temperature fluctuations than traditional concrete or even asphalt pavement. Read on to learn more about thirsty concrete and explore some of the factors you'll want to consider before committing to a thirsty-concrete project. 

How does this type of concrete work?

One of the major weaknesses of traditional concrete is the ease with which a few droplets of water can collect in a crack, freeze, expand, and create a much larger crack. A small hole or divot formed in the concrete's surface that may not even be noticeable during the summer months can quickly turn into a large pothole over the course of winter as freezing and thawing cycles cause precipitation to expand within the hole and weaken its surroundings. Unfortunately, there's little you can do as a business owner to stop this process. "Sealing" concrete against oils and solvents can provide some protection at the surface level, but nearly all local and state building codes will require the concrete to retain some ability to absorb precipitation—and oils that seep into these tiny crevices can create blockages that may even lead to flooding. 

Thirsty concrete resolves many of these problems by absorbing up to 880 gallons of water per minute—allowing rainwater to pass through the concrete into the soil below without settling or pooling within the layers of cement. This concrete is mixed differently from traditional concrete and is composed of fine particles of granite rather than sand, clay, and other common concrete components. The final product is a solid, sturdy concrete that appears impermeable but contains countless tiny gaps to allow water and debris to flow through (and to prevent the clogging of these spaces that can often lead to surface holes and cracks in traditional concrete).

If your business or parking lot is located on a slab of bedrock that doesn't permit much drainage, you'll be able to install an impermeable membrane beneath the concrete so that the water it absorbs can be diverted to a nearby stream or pond. Otherwise, you should be able to install this concrete directly over the soil for absorption.

What factors should you consider when deciding whether thirsty concrete is the right choice for your business's needs?

Thirsty concrete can be a great choice for businesses located in temperate areas that get a great deal of rain (like the Pacific Northwest) or that are in zones that flood frequently. By making the switch to thirsty concrete, you'll likely find that the patching or repaving you were required to perform each spring is now a much less frequent process, and you may even lower your potential liability for slips and falls or other injuries caused by pooled water or ice on the surface of your parking lot. 

However, areas in which there are more days with temperatures below zero than in the triple digits may not be suitable for this type of concrete. Although thirsty concrete performs well in areas that get some cold weather, extended cold periods combined with snow, sleet, or other precipitation can prematurely age this concrete and leave it less durable over the long term. Talk to companies such as Claggett & Sons Inc for more information.