Concrete Antagonists: Carbonation

Choices in casual drinks often come infused with carbon dioxide to create lively bubbles. They come in wide varieties — sparkling water, soda pop, beer, and all those other fizzy drinks that tickle your nose as you lean in to enjoy them. Carbonation is deeply rooted in popular American culture, so it’s no wonder we enjoy it so much here in California. Carbonation, however, isn’t only in drinks! It’s even in concrete! Coming from the surrounding air, carbon dioxide penetrates the pores in concrete. If water then reaches the carbonation within concrete, the result is corrosion of the steel inside. Therefore, let’s discuss concrete carbonation.

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Within concrete is a molecule called calcium hydroxide. Mixed with carbon dioxide, it creates calcium carbonate and water. When the humidity is between 50% and 75%, conditions are optimal for this reaction. Of course, when the sun dries out the concrete, the issue is abated, but if the concrete stays in shady areas or gets subjected to rain, chances of carbonation rise. Although carbonation can lead to increases in the strength of concrete, it also compromises the reinforcing steel inside it, limiting its ability to act as reinforcement. So while the outside gets stronger, the inside may be getting weaker. From an appearance aspect, a chalky coating of calcium carbonate may also develop on the exterior of the concrete, an addition that most property owners dislike.

Protecting Your Concrete from Carbonation

The best way to avoid concrete carbonation is by sealing your concrete. Epoxy coatings cover over your concrete, making it virtually impermeable. Even a thin layer is enough to prevent carbonation. With an epoxy coating from West Coast Epoxy, you therefore not only protect the steel inside your concrete, but you also do so with a wide range of patterns and colors to impress your workers and your clients. Please review our gallery for examples of our work. When you’re ready, give West Coast Epoxy a call or schedule a free consultation online. We’ll help you keep carbonation where it belongs — in your drinks, not under your feet.

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