Concrete Balcony Renewal

The advantages of concrete balconies, including their durability, fire resistance and appearance make them an attractive addition to any apartment building. Tenants enjoy the flexibility and durability of these balconies and often customize them with carpets, tiles, furniture and plants.

All exterior concrete balconies are susceptible to decay although this may not be readily evident. Cracking and flaking concrete and corrosion of reinforcement are signs of decay. Small cracks in a concrete surface may look harmless but gaps and joints provide a ready place for moisture to penetrate.

Over the life of the balcony the concrete floor is exposed to numerous freeze-thaw cycles that impact on both the surface of the concrete and potentially the structure. Scaling (also known as spalling and delamination) is the local flaking or peeling of surface mortar, usually less than 1/8th inch, caused primarily by hydraulic pressures from freeze-thaw cycles affecting the concrete at the surface. Generally, it starts as localized small patches which later may merge and extend to expose large areas. Light scaling does not expose the coarse aggregate. Moderate scaling exposes the aggregate and may involve loss of up to 1/8 to 3/8 inch of the surface mortar. In severe scaling more surface is lost and the aggregate is clearly exposed and stands out.

Residents may use ice melt products on their balconies to extend their safe operation during the winter season. Common ingredients of ice melt products such as magnesium and calcium chlorides chemically attack concrete. This chemical attack does overall less damage to concrete than the freezing and refreezing of the water. Remember concrete balconies can have severe frost damage without seeing any melting materials at all. Plain water, when it freezes, expands approximately 8% and water with ice melt products can expand up to 16%.

Unit owners and residents can unwittingly contribute to this type of damage. Many unit owners prefer the look and feel of carpet rather than the hard concrete so they install indoor/outdoor carpet on their balconies. Carpet traps rain which often evaporates leaving salts and chemicals that the rain collected from the air. As this cycle repeats itself, the concentration of salts and chemicals increase, which quickly attack the reinforcing steel, jeopardizing balcony strength. Another problem is the installation of quarry tiles or other similar floor surfaces that have porous joints and can be, in themselves, porous if not glazed which can allow damage to occur, yet hide the evidence until the damage has progressed to a serious level.

Any balcony has the potential, if not appropriately maintained, to fail at some stage. The legal and financial implications for unit owners are enormous. Typically, concrete repair involves a destructive component that must precede the actual repair work. This not only increases the cost of the repair but also increases the levels of noise, vibration, dust and time required to complete the repairs. In the case of concrete balconies, this process can significantly impact on the resident whose balcony is being "maintained" both in terms of lost time to enjoy the balcony but also in terms of traffic through the apartment to carry out the repair work.

In many cases, concrete balconies and structures show their age with spalling, pitting and cracking that affects only the surface of the concrete. In extreme cases where maintenance has not been carried out on a regular basis, that surface deformation can extend into the structure. In most cases, the concrete directly below or surrounding the spalled, pitted or cracked area is still structurally sound. Unfortunately, remediation of the damaged areas generally requires the saw cutting and jack-hammering of the entire existing concrete slab or structure to remove damaged areas which not only adds significant cost to a repair but also increases the length of time that the structure or slab is out of service.

Patching can also be used as a "fix" for spalling and pitting balcony areas. Unfortunately, while they may provide a fix, they can also create an unsightly finish, creating a patchwork of original and patched areas. While it repairs the damage it does nothing to enhance the value or look of the balcony and may even detract from the overall esthetics of the structure.

Con-Restor provides innovative solutions for a broad range of concrete-related maintenance and restoration problems inherent in the use of Portland Cement Concrete, especially given Western Canada's climatic challenges. By recognizing the potential benefits that polymer modified concrete could provide to the broad range of maintenance issues associated with concrete slabs and structures, Con-Restor has focused on identifying and specializing in the best polymer modified products available for Manitoba and Western Canada's unique climatic challenges. According to the National Research Council, in Canadian Building Digest CBD-241, replacement of part of the cement binder of the concrete mix by a polymer (often in latex form) creates a product that has higher strength, lower water permeability, better resistance to chemicals, and greater freeze-than stability than conventional concrete.

Con-Restor's proposed cost-effective proven techniques will:

  • Not only remediate existing damage, it will ensure a level of protection from future deterioration.
  • Provide minimal disruption, noise and dust than traditional concrete restoration services.
  • Rectify any reverse drainage or ponding issues to ensure balcony floor drains away from the building.
  • Ensure a uniform and consistent finished product enhancing curb appeal of your building.
  • Be minimally intrusive to your residents.
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