concrete pavement 101

Before Hiring Any Concrete Contractors,
Learn All You Can About Concrete Pavement

Searching for concrete information as you plan your concrete project? Interested in concrete in general? Get the knowledge you need in order to talk with contractors and learn how to protect and maintain your concrete paving investment with expert facts, tips and insights.

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Concrete Facts

Here a few interesting concrete pavement facts to get you started!

  1. Concrete is highly resistant to fire. Concrete has a low rate of thermal conductivity which makes it effectively fireproof.
  2. The ancient Romans used concrete by mixing lime, water and volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius. The dome of the Pantheon, which was built using this ancient concrete, is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.
  3. Since concrete can be poured and cast, it can be shaped easily to fit specific needs. This makes it ideal for dumpster pads, driveways, column work and curb repair.
  4. According to a study done by Columbia University, over 10 billion tons of concrete are produced every year worldwide.
  5. Mixtures of concrete are normally made with 60-75% aggregate, 15% water and cement, and 5-8% air.
  6. Concrete gets stronger over time. Calcium hydroxide, which is found in cement, turns into calcium carbonate when it absorbs carbon dioxide. Calcium carbonate is also found in materials like limestone and marble.

Benefits of Concrete Pavement

How do you know if concrete is the right choice for your paving project?

Every concrete paving project has a lot of elements to consider, but the following concrete benefits can help you decide on the best pavement for your project.

Concrete Pavement Requires Minimal Maintenance.

Concrete is generally considered to be more durable than asphalt. As a result, less maintenance is needed to preserve concrete pavement over time. Pavement sealing, although encouraged, is optional for concrete whereas asphalt should be resealed every 3-5 years.

Concrete Pavement Has a Longer Lifespan Than Asphalt.

On average, concrete will last about 15 years longer than asphalt. Concrete’s lifespan can be even further prolonged by seal coating, repairing cracks right away, and avoiding the use of rock salt.

Concrete is Ideal for Static and Heavy Load Applications.

If you know your pavement is going to be supporting heavy loads, such as campers, large trucks or storing large equipment, concrete might be the best option for your project. Commercial concrete and municipal concrete projects that require dumpster pads, parking pads or loading docks are best served by concrete because of concrete’s longevity, strength and durability.

Concrete Can be Customized.

If your project requires pavement with added curbs, pads, or custom solutions, concrete may be the best option for you. Concrete solutions may be ideal for your commercial or municipal parking lot or driveway that requires added strength for large vehicle traffic.

Concrete Maintenance

Concrete is strong and durable, but problems can arise that you need to look out for.

The experienced concrete contractors at Wolf Paving encourage property owners to get pavement damage looked at right away. Any weakness or pavement damage will only worsen when exposed to harsh weather and heavy use.

If complications with your concrete do arise, they may be one of the following:

  • Settling - Moisture content within the base beneath the concrete will freeze and thaw which can change the pavement foundation. This is called settling, and the process may cause your concrete slabs to crack or sink making your pavement uneven. Not only does concrete settling look bad, but it makes your concrete a safety hazard.

  • Cracking - There are a number of reasons your concrete may crack, including: a bad concrete mix; the mix could have dried too fast during installation; the ground could have settled, or the pavement may have been built with a lack of control joints. No matter the cause, always get the cracks and surface damage fixed right away so the problem doesn't get worse.

  • Flaking - Also known as spalling, is when too much water enters the concrete causing the surface to peel and flake off. Flaking is often the result of error in the curing or hardening process. A dramatic change in weather during the laying process may also be to blame. In many cases, the top layer of concrete can be removed and re-poured rather than tearing out the whole parking lot or driveway.

There are several tried and true means of maintaining concrete pavement. These three repair methods are the most widely used methods of preserving your concrete.

  • Sealing - Once your concrete has cured completely, it’s best to seal your concrete as soon as you are able. Sealing your driveway or parking lot will keep your concrete looking as good as it did the day it was poured. It will help protect against flaking, cracks, and stains, adding value to your property.

  • Concrete Repair: Raising / Mudjacking - Both of these terms refer to leveling a concrete pavement by altering the foundation below the pavement. This repair method begins with a contractor drilling small holes into the settled concrete. From there, a cement slurry is pumped through the holes to soil underneath, filling the empty areas in the soil and stabilizing the foundation under the concrete. This form of concrete repair is fast and inexpensive compared to other methods of reforming pavement foundation.

  • Crack Repair / Filling - Depending on the size of the concrete crack, you could repair it yourself or hire a contractor. Before being filled, the crack should be dry, cleaned and have all debris removed. Once the crack has been prepared, it is filled with crack sealer... For large cracks, hiring a concrete contractor is always your best choice to ensure no further cracking occurs.

How to Increase the Lifespan of Your Concrete Pavement

Even in harsh Wisconsin weather, concrete is a durable, strong paving solution that can last for decades.

In order to last that long, concrete must be laid by experienced concrete contractors and be maintained by responsible property owners. Wolf Paving recommends regular maintenance and upkeep to help keep your concrete protected and to get the most out of your investment. Follow these four tips to increase the lifespan of your concrete pavement.

Tip #1: Do not use rock salt.

When rock salt dissolves it releases chloride, which can damage and weaken concrete causing small holes and other breakages. If you must use salt, be sure you use salt mix designed for concrete pavement and only after it cures for 1-3 years after initial installation. You should also be wary of other deicing chemicals, make sure they are concrete safe. Steer clear of deicers containing ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate all together.

Tip #2: Seal your concrete.

Sealing your concrete will repel water and deicing salts, help protect against stains, and increase your concrete’s overall longevity. Concrete sealing is fairly inexpensive and a great investment to help keep your pavement looking great. It’s recommended that concrete be sealed every three to five years.

Tip #3: Repair cracks right away.

Once a crack forms, it’s best to get it repaired immediately. Small cracks and imperfections are relatively inexpensive to fix. If left neglected, cracks will only grow in size leaving you with more expensive repairs and safety hazards.

Tip #4: Raise settled concrete.

If you notice your concrete slabs start to shift and become uneven, get it fixed right away. When the ground settles it weakens the foundation of your concrete. By raising it immediately, you can prevent further damage to your concrete pavement.

The 5 Key Qualities to Consider Before You Hire a Concrete Contractor

Do your research and make sure the contractor’s reputation and recent projects are up to par.

Whether you are looking for a concrete contractor for your residential, commercial or municipal concrete paving project, there are a few things you should consider. Ask questions and make sure the contractors you interview to understand your project scope and your unique needs.

Consider these five key qualities as you select a concrete contractor:

  1. Price: Competitive pricing is an important factor as you select a concrete paving contractor. Representatives should offer to provide a complimentary site visit and quote. Considerations in regard to price should include quality of equipment, type of concrete mixture, the complexity of the project area, municipal ordinances, removal of existing surfaces, environmental factors, and recycling options.

  2. Reviews: A reputable concrete paving company will openly share customer reviews and / or a Better Business Bureau rating. Oftentimes, a company’s reviews or case study examples will be shared on their website to be viewed by new and prospective companies or individuals. Wolf Paving’s case studies and customer testimonials can be found here.

  3. Years of experience and project history: Leaning on the knowledge of an experienced paving representative will help you make good choices for your property as well as save you money. Representatives that are able to communicate in a clear and informed way, while providing good examples of challenging projects and solutions they have provided for other customers, are likely to be the best partners for your project.

  4. Licensed and insured: There should be no resistance by your concrete paving contractor to provide documentation showing that they are licensed and insured. This documentation not only provides protection for their representatives and equipment, it provides protection for you and your property as well.

  5. Warranty: A good contractor should stand by their work and make customer satisfaction a priority. Asking for a project warranty on workmanship and materials will guarantee that the project is completed to industry standards and the unique needs of your property as agreed upon at the start of the project. Most company warranties are different based on project circumstances – so be sure to have all information in writing before the start of your project. Concrete installation experts should also provide tips to help you extend the life of your newly paved surface.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about concrete pavement!

With over 75 years of paving experience, from highways to driveways, Wolf Paving is your local source for all your paving needs.

For more information on Wolf Paving or to request a free estimate for your next paving project contact one of our two offices. If you live or work in the Milwaukee area, call us at 262-965-2121. For the Madison area, call us at 608-249-7931.

We're happy to answer any paving question you have! So please don't hesitate to contact us.


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