Have you read about polymer concrete, but don’t know what it is about and how it is used? Or maybe you’ve used it before, but you want to know more about its uses?
I’ve gathered some basics here that can help you to get a deeper look at it. Nothing too deep as I’m no chemist, but from the practical point of view of a concrete worker.
Polymer concrete is widely used because of its attributes, but as it is a little more costly option it is not that common yet. Still it has some unique uses that I will be covering later in this post.
Polymer concrete vs concrete
Before we can address what polymer concrete is, we should take a quick look at the makeup of normal concrete. Typical concrete is made of small rocks and other aggregate materials and cement. Cement is the bonding material between all the tiny pieces of rock that compose the concrete.
Now the difference between cement and polymer concretes is that with polymer concrete, the cement is replaced with polymers. In other words, the aggregate of rocks, fine particles, and pebbles are held together by thermostatic resins instead of cement. This setup ensures that the concrete’s end result is watertight and lightweight at the same time.
Polymer concretes are used in two main applications: either for new concrete applications or as a patch for old concrete constructions. As fresh concrete for new jobs, it is often used in swimming pools, drainage or sewer pipes, water channels, and other liquid-containing structures because it is so watertight.
It is also very helpful in patching old concrete cracks and such; it is capable of patching either cement concrete or older concrete of its own makeup. Because of its versatility, it is much appreciated in the construction world.
Polymer concrete tips
Here are a few quick tips for using polymer concrete. First, in order to promote good bonding between the aggregate and the polymer, the aggregate must be high quality, as well as free from dust and debris, and it must be dry.
Secondly, if you are using this kind of concrete to repair or patch older cement concrete, please ensure that the surface to be patched is perfectly dry. Moisture will weaken the bonding power in the patching job, so should thus be avoided.
Lastly, be sure that your concrete job stays perfectly dry until it is cured. Again, any moisture in the bond will only weaken and ruin your patching job.
Polymer concrete properties
When it comes to any material that is used for building, we have to know all sides of it. What is it good for, where it’s not a good fit, what kind of stress can it handle, etc?
So for that reason, let us take a look at polymer concrete pros and cons. There are always some and these are the details that make looking into building materials interesting.
Pros of polymer concrete
There are many benefits involved with using polymer concrete for a specific job. First, it can resist compression up to four times better than standard cement concrete can. In addition, it is also very easy to install and maintain.
This concrete is also very resistant to weather, chemicals, shock, and abrasion. Polymer concretes are excellent at handling freezing and thawing cycles; it cures quickly.
There is also the good adhesion properties which make it good for fixing damaged concrete. Along with its water resistant qualities which help against corrosion of rebar.
It is lightweight and can be used in standard wood and steel frameworks as well. These benefits are a few of the reasons that concrete is so well-liked among many builders.
Cons of polymer concrete
There are a few disadvantages to using polymer concrete, but only a few. First, it costs more than traditional concrete as cement is much cheaper. It might not be a problem depending on how we are using it and how it can stand against time in that use.
Secondly, some of the ingredients in the concrete compound can be toxic; especially the initiator ingredients are also harmful to human skin and can cause chemical burns if contacted. Other components of the polymer are also dangerous and should be carefully handled to prevent damage to yourself or anyone around you.
Thirdly, polymer concrete needs to be properly mixed. Improper mixes lead to bad results like with regular concrete.
You might know that corrosion is one of the greatest weaknesses of reinforced concrete. Concrete in itself might stand for thousands of years, but rebar inside it will rust with time and corrode it.
So if we combine polymer concrete and rebar we should have something that is strong and resistant to corrosion. Polymer concrete in itself has great strength and when it’s combined with tensile strength it should be able to handle even more.
Polymer concrete can handle more pressure and its anticorrosion qualities might win it a spot on important facilities. It also has a place in the marine and sewage environment because of that.
It can be used like regular concrete, but because of the higher cost, we need to consider where the benefits are worth the price tag. Even if the concrete might last, if the usage of the building disappears it’s all for nothing. Just expensive waste.
These are just the basics involved with using any of the polymer concretes that are available on the construction market today. With caution and a bit of extra money, you can be confident that this concrete will stand for many years.
Actually, the occasions I’ve used polymer products are mostly concrete repair. Old concrete has suffered and rebar has corroded and there have to be some fixes done for aesthetic reasons and also for preventing further damage.
Now plain concrete patch could have the rebar rusting again without proper corrosion prevention. You can do it on the rebar or you can make the whole patch so that it’s resistant to corrosion.
Now before we fixed a lot of this kind of damage with corrosion protection on the rebar and pouring old-fashioned concrete on the spot. Lately, though, I’ve done more and more polymer fixing so it must be gathering wind.
And why not, it’s clearly a good product at some uses even if it’s a little more costly one.