Identifying and fixing concrete flooring challenges

Photos © Unsplash.
Photos © Unsplash.

By Emily Newton

Concrete floors are popular choices in certain spaces in a variety of finishes as they are long-lasting and extremely durable if the contractor has installed, cured, and finished them properly. However, issues can arise during or after installation, and construction professionals must know how to diagnose and fix these concrete flooring challenges.

This article outlines some crucial steps the construction professional may take on behalf of the owner when addressing challenges as to slab-on-grade concrete floors, including those with polished or broom finishes. Although most relate to concrete floors installed indoors—in residential and commercial buildings—some tips mentioned also apply to outdoor installations.

Determining the issues and causes

A good start in the professional’s troubleshooting process is to discern the following questions with the owner on-site:

  • When did the issues start and have any activities caused them to worsen over time? Have environmental factors, such as products for cleaning and deicing, harmed the concrete? Has frequent traffic from heavy vehicles, such as forklifts, damaged the concrete? If the concrete flooring is in a protected area, such as a garage, have pedestrians tracked products such as deicing salts onto it?
  • Are there specific areas where the concrete floor has started to bulge or push up due to possible soil upheaval following heavy rainstorms and water build-up and pressure under the concrete? Did temperatures drop below the freezing point soon after installation?
  • Are there cracks in the concrete flooring? Did they occur after a sudden impact? What hit the floor and when did the impact occur? Did the cracks appear because of installation mistakes, such as too much water in the mix, or selection of the wrong strength of concrete to pour?
  • Did the concrete slab design include reinforcement to compensate for shrinkage to address the possibility of cracking?1 Did cracks arise due to issues associated with how well the contractor cured the floor in the first few critical days to help ensure the concrete did reach its full strength in or after 56 days after installation?

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