Does Concrete Expand When It Dries?

Concrete is a material that is known to shrink as it cures and will continue to shrink very slightly at a decreasing rate over time. However, when the temperature or humidity rises, the concrete slab expands accordingly. This expansion creates tensile stresses in the concrete, which damage the surrounding concrete and causes cracking, delamination and splintering. In outdoor concrete, joints widen during cold weather due to cooling shrinkage and narrow during hot weather as concrete expands.

If the joints are filled with incompressible material during the winter, the expansion of concrete during the summer can lead to explosions in the pavement. When it is free to deform, concrete will expand or contract due to temperature fluctuations. The size of the concrete structure, whether it is a bridge, a road or a building, does not make it immune to the effects of temperature. Concrete expands slightly as the temperature rises and shrinks when it drops.

Wet expansion deformation is considered to be caused by moisture absorption by the cement colloid. As water penetrates into the pores of concrete and its moisture content increases, its volume expands. Most shrinkage after concrete curing is irreversible. However, it expands in extreme heat or when the moisture content changes.

Physically, concrete that experiences a drying shrinkage of approximately 0.05 percent (500 millionths or 500 x 10) will shrink approximately 0.6 inches by 100 feet (50 mm per 100 m). Changes in concrete temperature can cause cracks. As concrete heats up, it expands; as concrete cools, it contracts. If concrete wants to expand or contract but cannot, it will most likely crack.

Thermal expansion and contraction affect the volume and pressure of tires, volleyballs, and basketballs. Expansion joints are practically never needed with interior slabs, because concrete does not expand as much, it never gets so hot. Most matter expands when heated and contracts when it cools, a principle called. The average kinetic energy of particles increases when matter is heated and this increase in motion increases the average distance between their atoms.

By placing shrinkage and expansion joints in concrete at specified distances or locations, the contractor can control the occurrence and location of unwanted cracks caused by this movement. However, mortar with an excessively high cement content can affect the water permeability and durability of the masonry. Water permeability increases for three reasons. Firstly, mortars with a high cement content have greater shrinkage and more frequent shrinkage cracks.

As a rule, any concrete slab over nine feet will crack. Shrinkage is one of the main causes of cracking. As concrete hardens and dries, it reduces due to the evaporation of excess mixing water. This shrinkage causes forces in the concrete that literally separate the slab.

Concrete expansion joints give the slabs enough room to move, which helps prevent cracks% 26% buckling. Without these joints, even a small movement creates pressure and tension in the concrete. Over time, weak spots can crack. It usually takes 24 to 48 hours for concrete to dry enough for you to walk or drive on it.

However, the drying of concrete is a continuous and fluid event, and it usually reaches its full effective strength after about 28 days. In building construction, we never allow structural wedge anchors to be placed or cast anchors loaded into place before the concrete has set for 28 days. If you are in a hurry, wait at least a week when the concrete has a strength of 75%. If your anchor does not carry any appreciable load, it may be fine.

These agents contain a compressive force that will prevent shrinkage of the concrete as long as they remain active.

Jack Brown
Jack Brown

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