Reasons Why Is My Concrete Pool Deck Cracking and Solutions
With so many options for you to choose from when it comes to the material of your pool deck, concrete gets picked rather often. Why? Well, it all comes down to the money. Okay, not just money, but that’s a large part of the decision-making process.
Concrete decks are not only an affordable option, but they’re reasonably easy to maintain and beyond easy to customize design-wise. There’s just one problem; they are super prone to cracking. Despite a stellar reputation of being the strong, durable choice, concrete decks crack, and we’re going to explain why and provide solutions!
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So Why Does Concrete Crack?
Nobody wants their concrete deck to crack, but what actually causes the cracks you see in your concrete deck? There are various possible reasons as to why the concrete is cracking;
Expanding soil doesn’t happen everywhere, but certain soil expands when it gets wet in some places. With numerous types of soil existing, it only affects specific regions where that soil is the dominant soil. The more water the soil takes, the more it expands, and the bigger the cracks end up being in your concrete pool deck.
Once again, this is one of those area-specific reasons why concrete cracks. However, in certain areas where their groundwater levels are high, in-ground pools end up floating through hydrostatic pressure. So when there is activity, or a shift, of groundwater, it ultimately leads to cracking your concrete pool deck.
Poorly Placed or Inadequate Expansion and Control Joints
When there is a lack of appropriate expansion and control joints in the concrete, your concrete deck does not have the full capabilities of expanding and contracting effectively. In scenarios where this is true, it ultimately results in cracking. Furthermore, the concrete expansion and control joints have to be placed appropriately in terms of distance and spacing between them to avoid developing into a more substantial problem.
Poorly Constructed Concrete Deck
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. When a job isn’t done right, it leads to problems sooner or later, and concrete decks are no different. To have a well-constructed concrete pool deck, you want and need it to be adequately reinforced with steel. A steel reinforcement provides good adherence and prevents cracks. Additionally, you want to ensure that the soil below is adequately compacted when you’re constructing your concrete deck. Properly compacted soil means less chance of it shifting and resulting in cracks in the concrete.
Temperature fluctuations are quickly becoming more of a threat to concrete as a whole as numerous parts of the world have dated concrete structures. These structures aren’t surviving the rapid chop and change of temperatures in a given day, week, or month. Depending on where you live, you might know a thing about drastic temperature changes.
Another thing you should keep in mind is certain regions experience intense cold weather, and some experience extreme heat. Therefore, it’s essential to keep your area’s climate in mind when constructing your concrete pool deck. Don’t think you can outsmart mother nature, but you can lessen its effects on your concrete patio.
Different Types of Cracks
Did you know there are different types of cracks that can appear in your concrete? Here are the different types of cracks your concrete might be experiencing.
A heaving crack is a casualty of freezing temperatures hitting the ground, bringing ground movement to create cracks. Another cause of heaving cracks is when the roots of large plants lift and crack the concrete.
Expansion & Contraction
When temperatures drastically increase or decrease, it can result in expansion or contraction cracks. The cracks are produced through the use of control joints.
At a time when concrete is still in an aqueous state, concrete contains a lot of water. When that water dries up, it leaves behind voids, making the concrete weaker and more easily able to experience cracking.
So What Do I Do About My Cracked Concrete Deck?
Knowing why is the first step, but you can’t just accept the reason it happened without doing something about the problem, and now it’s time to fix your concrete deck. There are numerous ways you can fix your concrete deck, including;
Epoxy is a filler that’s resin-based and is best for small cracks (¼ inch wide). While epoxy is affordable and can provide aesthetically pleasing results, we don’t recommend testing its capabilities on cracks bigger than ¼ inches in width. The effects of using it on more significant cracks won’t be structurally sound.
Concrete Patch Mix
When it comes to cracks wider than ¼ inches, then you should consider a concrete patch mix. Concrete patch mixes give more room for matching the surrounding concretes texture, but more likely than not, the color will be slightly off.
Unlike a majority of the various other caulk-like concrete crack repair products, Vinyl is perfect for small hairline-type cracks. Vinyl’s available in pre-mixed or dry mix, and all you need in order to apply it is a towel.
Like epoxy, polymer-based fillers are resin-based and are perfect for the narrow cracks in your concrete deck. The comparisons between polymer-based fillers and epoxy are fair, but epoxy’s take longer to cure at the end of the day and are somewhat more robust.
When you’ve got relatively wide cracks in your concrete pool deck, then using grout cement might be your best option for the best repairs. Grout cement doesn’t form any structural bond with the concrete. Still, it does fill in those pesky gaps, and the result is a fairly improved appearance.
When it comes to alternative solutions, we turn to mortars. You can pack a dry mortar into your concrete deck crack and have a solution that is very durable and far less prone to shrinking. Don’t use mortars on the shallow cracks as it’s not suitable for those types of concrete cracks.
Fixing Major Cracks
Sometimes no amount of epoxy will fix a crack too severe. There are other options in the event of more severe concrete cracks like staples or stitching them closed. However, we don’t recommend you go this route as just another DIY project. While we know you’re a fully capable person, the truth is some jobs are better for the pros.
If you’re confident you can pull it off, go ahead. We can’t do much more than a recommendation.
Problems You Might Encounter While Repairing Your Concrete Deck
I hate to break it to you, but if you thought repairing your concrete deck was going to be all smooth sailing, you thought wrong. However, these problems only really occur when you’ve got a concrete deck using multi-colored stamped concrete. This is not to say that the problems won’t occur with a more standard concrete deck, but they’re far more devastating when they occur with multi-colored stamped concrete.
Trying to match new concrete with the old concrete is a big ask and is incredibly difficult to achieve. But, in all honesty, unless you’ve painted, or intend to paint, your concrete deck with outdoor paint, you’ll see where the repair happened pretty quickly.
We don’t believe this is the most significant issue in the world. The main objective should be to have a concrete deck that is in good condition.
Like color matching, while not impossible, matching texture to that of the surrounding concrete is a mission. Again, you can get pretty close, but once again, it will be noticeable.
Here are some of the frequently asked questions we find asked about how cracks in concrete occur.
Can the heat crack my concrete deck?
Yes. Thermal expansion is when the concrete expands and contracts due to heating and cooling. However, the most common reason why the cracks appear is that the expansion joints weren’t likely placed properly when the deck (or any concrete surface for that matter) was constructed. Furthermore, when the surface is at a different temperature to the interior of the concrete, then the concrete can crack.
Why does the cold crack my concrete deck?
Concrete is susceptible to cracks during extremely cold weather because of the freezing and thawing cycles. These cycles are similar in terms of effects to expansion and contraction felt during hot temperatures. As water moves through the pores of the concrete, it expands as it freezes, and through excessive expansion, it causes cracks to appear.
Congratulations! You are now armed with a deeper understanding of the different types of cracks, why cracks appear, and how to solve the problem you’re facing with your concrete deck. But now, it’s time to go and take control of your concrete deck to get it back in shape.
Let us know how your concrete deck repairs go in the comments below, and if you know somebody who needs some guidance for their concrete deck, then share this article with them! Don’t sit on the key to fixing cracks in a concrete patio. Share the knowledge!