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If you have any questions you can always visit the Concrete Forum and post your questions. Here’s an example of the great information shared for one person who had a question about why their concrete was cracking after only four months.

I am in the late stages of an addition to my home which includes a master bath and covered patio. The slab was poured in late November 2010 all at the same time (bath slab and patio). We had a major storm roll thru the afternoon/evening the concrete was poured but the concrete did sit for 4-6 hours before it started raining. As the addition progressed, I started noticing cracks in the concrete. The tile guy found nine hairline cracks across the bath area alone. Last month I noticed a crack all the way across the patio, which is about 16′ x 30′. I refuse to believe that this is “normal” like the contractor says. I had a detached garage and driveway extension built summer of 2009 and that concrete doesn’t have any cracks at all…..even with the recent trucks driving over it for the current addition. I believe the concrete supplier didn’t mix the concrete properly. Is there any way to test a sample of the concrete or have it inspected by an expert? What are my options if I find out the concrete is substandard?

Some of the helpful replies:

It’s extremely common for concrete to crack. it’s far more uncommon for it NOT to crack. There are several reasons for cracks. The two most likely are:
1) The concrete was poured much too wet, leading to excessive shrinkage as it cured. Many times, contractors add a lot of water to the mix to make it easier to pour it out of the truck. When the concrete cures, it loses water and shrinks a bit. Too much added water leads to a high water to cement ratio and therefore a lot of cracking, and typically within a couple of days of the pour!
2) There were not enough crack control joints, or they were improperly installed. These are the joints that are either tooled in while the concrete is wet, or sawed in as soon as possible after the concrete sets up. They are designed to control random cracking. There are specific ways they need to be installed. Probably the least likely scenario is that the concrete was defective. It’s more typically contractor error. Did the same contractor pour both of the slabs you mentioned? I wrote an article about concrete cracks. It can be found at under the artcles and publications link. It goes into much more detail as to other causes of cracking as well. Good luck.

Although you were not there when they actually filled the truck with the appropriate materials, once the truck comes to the job site, the contractor or the man in charge of the concrete usually takes a look at the concrete by pouring a little into the shute. So the driver of the concrete truck gives this blank look and looks at the contractor or the man in charge and sometimes the man in charge will have the driver add water so he can work the concrete easier. At that point the question would be, who is responcable for the mixture of the concrete? As it is not feasable to hire a state licensed testing company to be there during the pour on a small job, that would have been possibly the only way to protect yourself. So the options are tear it out or live with it, sorry to be blunt.

If concrete is of perfect mixture and of perfect placement and perfect subgrade(of course there is nothing perfect in concrete)over a period of time will crack every 15 feet. The control joints just try to get the crack to happen at the control joint. So the object is to make the control joints asthetically pleasing to the eye with the surrounding architecture. The more control joints the better chances you have of hiding the cracks. Climate – soil conditions – placement voids – where the rebar is inside the concrete and mix all will have a contributing factor in a crack.

Question sent from a reader: I have a large concrete driveway that has obviously been enlarged over the years and pieced up with mortar at various points. Consequently it’s a mismatch of colours. I was thinking about painting or staining the driveway with exterior paint or concrete stain, assuming I can find any here in the UK, and sealing it the same day using a concrete seal?

Would such a process be effective or would I be wasting time and money?

Here’s our expert’s answer:

It won’t be miraculous buy it will be effective.
We have a waterbased stain that will color everything including your sneakers. Very potent.

Acid stain may not be as effective with different surfaces and patched areas.

How do I level (screed) the concrete over an area that is wider than my screed board.

You can tackle this several ways. The professionals will drive grade stakes inside the forms at convenient intervals (less than the width of the screed board). The grade stakes will have the proper level marked on the stake, usually a nail in a wooden stake. You can place some concrete in the forms and using the grade stakes as a guide, begin screeding the concrete. As you get the proper grade on the concrete, you can pull the grade stakes. As you can tell, this requires a little experience to get it just right, but beginners can do it with less accuracy.
Another method is to get a probe, such as a stick or steel stake, mark it with the depth you want the concrete to be, then place the concrete in the forms. Screed the concrete and probe to ensure the proper depth. This is not as efficient as the first method, but it will get the job done with a little more effort. You can set construction joints (1×4’s, metal keyway forms, etc) inside the forms at intervals of 25-30 times the depth of the slab. You can use these as screed guides.

Finally, you can set screed guides inside the forms using 2×4’s and stakes so that the bottom of the 2×4’s are at the top of where you want the concrete to be. Nail ears on the end and top of your screed board so that when you set the screed board on the screed guides, the bottom of your screed board is even with the bottom of the screed guide, thus level with the top of where your concrete will be. Once you get your concrete down and screeded, you can pull these screed guides and fill in the stake holes and re-level by eye.

Lauren Concrete – Ready Mix Concrete – 512-389-2113 – Austin

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Lauren Concrete was founded in 1986 by Ronnie Klatt in Austin, Texas. The company continues to be family owned and operated. The primary business offices are located in Austin and Round Rock.

Lauren Concrete operates 8 batch plants which are strategically located along the I-35 corridor. We proudly serve the Austin area communities including: Austin, Kyle, Buda, Bastrop, Elgin, Manor, Pflugerville, Round Rock, Hutto, Lakeway, Leander, Cedar Park, Liberty Hill, Bertram, and Georgetown.

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Lauren Concrete delivers results via technology. We implement state of the art technologies to ensure our customers supreme attention to detail. All Lauren vehicles are equipped with the latest in GPS technology. Our fully automated system provides vehicle location and status information in real-time to fleet managers and dispatchers. The positioning system is fully integrated into our dispatching system which results in greater efficiency and allows us to better meet our customers scheduling requirements.

Our Production Management System guarantees 100% quality via real-time text and email alerts that inform Quality Assurance Managers if problems occur. This feature allows us to guarantee that every cubic yard of concrete that leaves our facility is within batching tolerances and meets our customers’ specifications.