Concrete is the most widely used material on the planet. Its abundance, affordability and incredible strength form the foundation of the modern world—from buildings to bridges.
With a global market expected to exceed $921 billion by 2020, it’s also a cornerstone of the global economy. Worldwide cement production reached 3.27 billion tons in 2010, and it’s growing by 9 million tons a year. By 2030, we’ll be producing more than 4.8 billion tons annually.
In the United States, the concrete industry employs more than 163,000 people and produces more than 80 million tons of cement a year. The vast majority is used in the construction industry in the form of ready-mix concrete and other building materials.
- Ready-mix concrete: 70 percent
- Concrete products: 11 percent
- Road paving: 8 percent
- Oil & gas drilling: 4 percent
- Building materials: 4 percent
- Other: 3 percent
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“The cement industry is the building block of the nation's construction industry,” says the Portland Cement Association. “Few construction projects can take place without utilizing cement somewhere in the design.”
A Crumbling Investment?
Today, most buildings begin with a concrete foundation. Its superior durability has helped build some of the world’s longest-lasting structures. But even concrete has its weaknesses.
Moisture is the biggest culprit, causing more than $1 billion in damage to concrete floors each year. Although water plays an important role in cement mixing and concrete preparation, too much moisture during the drying stage can weaken its structural integrity. Even after the concrete has cured, moisture can cling to its surface and interfere with flooring adhesives.
Water weakens concrete in several different ways, including:
Trapped air. When drying concrete contains too much water, the extra moisture expands the space between grains of cement. As the moisture evaporates, those spaces fill with air. Concrete that contains just 10 percent trapped air loses up to 40 percent of its strength.
PH changes. Humidity can raise or lower the concrete’s pH level, which measures how acidic it is. The ideal pH for concrete is 11. If the pH becomes too low, concrete can crack or crumble. If it’s too high, it can cause floor adhesives to fail.
Corrosion. When concrete becomes too acidic, it eats away the protective coating on steel reinforcements. As the steel begins to corrode, it can expand up to six times its normal size, weakening the concrete from the inside out.
Mold growth. Wet, porous concrete creates the perfect breeding ground for mold. As mold grows, it secretes acid, which over time can cause the concrete to degrade. To prevent mold growth, dry concrete should not remain wet for more than 24 hours.
Construction Drying Solutions
Concrete preparation demands a dry environment. Unfortunately, most construction schedules aren’t able to accommodate the time needed to wait for ideal drying conditions.
That’s why many contractors are seeking construction drying solutions that temporarily create the perfect conditions for drying and prepping concrete.
When the coatings on two exhibits at the National Aquarium failed, allowing seawater to penetrate the concrete, the repair contractor turned to Polygon to help improve the life of the replacement coating. An all-season climate control solution was needed to keep the concrete’s moisture content at an optimal level during the seven-month-long project. Using a combination of heaters and desiccant dehumidifiers, our climate control engineers helped the contractor accelerate drying times while maintaining the ideal humidity level for ensuring a strong bond between the concrete and its surface coating.
Don't forget to checkout the infographic here for more facts!
Our construction drying solutions work by causing the vapor pressure in the concrete slab to drop. This propels moisture to the surface, where it quickly evaporates, creating the right environment for curing concrete and drying surface coatings or floor adhesives. The benefits of concrete drying include:
- Improved structural integrity
- Lower cost per square foot than sealing
- On-time project completion
Concrete is an important long-term investment that touches nearly every aspect of our economy. We can’t afford to let it crumble.
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