There are certain elements of a given concrete slab on your property that may seem like they’re only there for aesthetics when this isn’t actually the case, and a good example here is your expansion joints. Used throughout the construction world, expansion joints refer to separations in a structure that relieve stress on the building material being used, and they’re commonly used for support in concrete slabs.
At Lift Right Concrete, we’re happy to offer numerous concrete repair services for our Utah clients, from joint and crack sealing through concrete leveling of driveways, walkways, garage floors, patios and numerous other areas. What purpose do expansion joints serve in concrete, and what are some of the most common materials used for these joints? Here’s a primer on everything you need to know about them.
Expansion Joint Basics
Particularly for large concrete slabs like driveways or garage floors, expansion joints are vital elements. They provide support and allow for the concrete slab to expand and contract without leading immediately to cracks or other forms of damage.
Without expansion joints, the concrete slab may shift or move around as soil or temperatures change. This often leads to cracking in the slab itself, and this also presents risks of water seeping in under the slab through the expansion joint. For this reason, it’s important for a joint filler to be used within the expansion joint.
Types of Expansion Joint Fillers
There are a few good options when it comes to expansion joint filler materials:
- Silicone: The most recent of these materials to be discovered as a joint filler option, silicone is considered the top choice by many in the concrete world. This is because it’s both flexible and durable, allowing for expansion and contraction of the slab without any cracking or breaking of the seal. In addition, silicone is naturally resistant to mold and mildew, so these won’t be a concern either if moisture does make its way in.
- Wood: The most common joint filler material is wood, but it’s begun to be replaced in modern structures because it doesn’t do well with moisture or extreme temperatures.
- Vinyl: While this material only comes in pre-set heights and widths, and therefore may not completely seal the joint, it’s a better material against water than wood.
- Polyurethane: This is a harder plastic material that can completely seal the joint. However, it may deal with breakage issues if the slab heaves or settles.
Working With Professionals
When selecting an expansion joint filler material, or really within many areas of concrete repair or improvement, it’s vital to work with experienced professionals. We’ll advise you on whether a filler is required for your joints, plus recommend the ideal material based on your budget, concrete needs and other factors.
For more on expansion joint filler materials in your concrete slab, or to learn about any of our concrete lifting and leveling services, speak to the staff at Lift Right Concrete today.