Commercial

/Commercial

Durability Matters: Choosing Concrete Over Other Materials

What Your Next Project Stands To Benefit From Using Concrete

When considering building materials, you always want to compare cost, sustainability, safety and durability, among other things. Building materials like steel may be strong and durable, but it comes at a higher cost and may not be necessary for every project. On the other hand, wood is cheap to use, but causes you to compromise on durability and safety.

Concrete, however, stands out against other building materials. It’s affordable, energy efficient, safe and durable—and a material that can work for almost any project.

We know the power of concrete, which is why we want to share the benefits of concrete as a building material. That way, when it’s time for your next project, you remember to compare—and choose—concrete over other materials.

Below, we discuss the advantages concrete has over other materials, specifically wood. We hope this blog gives you the information you need to make concrete your go-to building material in the future.

10 Reasons To Choose Concrete Over Another Building Material

1. Low Maintenance

In comparison to other materials, concrete is extremely low maintenance. In fact, concrete may never require maintenance at all! Materials like steel or wood, however, must be maintained over time.

For example, wood will need to be retreated and repainted over time, and potentially even replaced. The same goes for steel! Concrete, on the other hand, won’t ever require this type of maintenance. This low level of maintenance not only makes concrete a more simple choice, but also a less expensive one.

While concrete may be more expensive than wood initially, the cost you will save over time makes it a worthwhile investment.

2. Resistant To Wind and Water

Concrete’s resistance to wind and water differentiates it from other materials like wood, too. Wood is easily damaged by wind and water, making it less ideal and safe for construction. For example, a large storm may cause wood to snap or break, and the excess water may result in mold damage.

Either way, both potential outcomes are expensive and time-consuming fixes. Unlike wood, concrete stands significantly less of a chance of being damaged by wind and water. This level of resistance allows concrete to stand out against other, weaker materials.

3. Fire-Proof

Due to its ability to absorb heat, concrete is actually fire-proof. This capability alone demonstrates the power of concrete over other building materials, especially wood.

In fact, fires kill more Americans than any other natural disaster combined. In 2017 alone, fires cost the US a total of $328.5 billion. Knowing the threat that fires place on our homes, projects and lives, why would you not choose concrete?

Materials like wood are extremely vulnerable to fire damage. Wood burns quickly, making it difficult to salvage in the event of a fire. This isn’t a concern for concrete though. Concrete walls and floors will not only stand strong during the event of a fire, but it stands a better chance of protecting what’s inside unlike wood.

4. Energy Efficient

Concrete’s heat absorption isn’t only beneficial for fires! Its ability to retain heat makes it energy efficient as well.

How so? Well, concrete’s heat retention requires less work on the buildings HVAC system, which not only cuts expenses, but also increases the building’s energy efficiency.

In addition, the amount of energy required to create concrete differs greatly than that required for a material like steel. On average, steel requires roughly three times as much energy to produce than concrete. In terms of energy efficiency, this is a big deal! As more projects decide to go green and enforce sustainability efforts, energy efficient materials like concrete become even more important.

5. Extremely Durable

Concrete is a material that is built to last. In general, the lifespan of concrete is two to three times longer than other building materials. This level of durability is simply unparalleled!

Other materials like wood can’t compare when it comes to durability. Wood will need to be replaced over time. Concrete, however, stays strong!

No matter the project, you need a building material that will last for years to come, which is why concrete remains the obvious choice above other materials.

6. Doesn’t Rust or Rot

Building off of its extreme durability, concrete also will not rust or rot. Wood and metal building materials will, though.

Decaying, rotting or rusting materials can be expensive to replace or repair. This is an expense you won’t have to worry about with concrete! While concrete has many benefits over other building materials, its durability and inability to rust or rot make it a prime material choice for any project.

7. Can Be Placed To Fit Any Space

One of the many beauties of concrete is that it can be placed in any space, shape or design. If the space you need coverage for is large, no problem. Small, no problem. In a unique shape, you guessed it, no problem!

While wood can sometimes be cut to fit small or unique spaces, placing concrete is a more reliable, consistent and durable option. Additionally, concrete can even be stamped to resemble the look of other materials such as brick, stone and wood. Concrete designs are essentially limitless, so you can achieve the look you want without having to compromise on weaker, less reliable materials.

8. Minimal Waste

Concrete is a material with minimal waste as well. It can be produced in exact amounts, so you won’t have to worry about wasting an excess amount of concrete.

Additionally, when concrete has served its purpose, it can be crushed, recycled and reused for other projects. This reusability isn’t always possible for other building materials!

9. Reflectivity

Since concrete is light in color, it’s able to reflect solar radiation, rather than absorb it like darker materials such as asphalt.

This also adds to its levels of energy efficiency, since the reflectivity will help reduce the need for the building’s AC system to work overtime, especially in the warmer months like spring and summer.

10. Cuts Down on Noise Pollution

Concrete is known to reduce noise—and even soundproof walls and floors—unlike other materials. The thickness of concrete walls and floors won’t allow sound to travel back and forth.

When Choosing Concrete For Your Next Project, Don’t Forget To Partner With The Right Supplier

Now that you know how concrete stands against other building materials, it almost seems like a no brainer to choose concrete for your next project!

However, don’t forget to partner with the right concrete supplier.

Here at Concrete Supply Co., our mission is to be the premier supplier of quality ready-mix concrete to benefit our employees, customers, shareholders and our community.

When you partner with us, we promise to value the industry, teamwork, profitability and most importantly, you! We know choosing the right supplier isn’t always easy, which is why we want to share the same passion and outlook for your project as you do.

If you’re ready to choose concrete for your next project, contact our team to learn how we can benefit you! We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about the limitless possibilities of concrete.

Speaking of suppliers, are you having trouble finding reliable partners? If so, download our free guide, Guide To Pre-Qualifying Suppliers, below!

 

building with concrete
2019-05-17T14:35:24-04:00

Steps To Improve Productivity On Your Construction Site

11 Ways To Improve Productivity On Your Construction Project

Completing a construction project on time can be tricky. It doesn’t take much to throw off your timeline! Bad weather, limited crew members, and impatient property managers can make efficient and productive work difficult.

However, despite these inevitable obstacles, there are a few things you can do to make sure your project stays productive every step of the way.

Follow along below to discover 11 ways to improve productivity on your construction site.

1. Communicate Clearly

Any project will suffer without proper communication. After all, no one will know what to do and when to do it without solid communication.

Always communicate goals, updates and changes with your crew and with your suppliers. You don’t want any of your crew members or project suppliers to be in the dark, so be sure to involve them with any changes to deadlines or project updates.

When your team has strong communication skills, the project will be much easier to complete on time—and your team will work better as a whole!

2. Educate Your Team

Jobsite injuries can cause a lot of problems for your project—productivity being one of them. However, most injuries can be avoided with adequate training.

Before starting a project, make sure everyone on your crew is trained properly. If not, this could result in unqualified team members delaying your project.

These levels of training are worth it, and will help your project stay productive and (hopefully) injury-free.

3. Listen To Feedback

Part of having open lines of communication with your team is giving an opportunity for much-needed feedback. Your crew members are the ones executing the project, so listen to their opinions about what works and what doesn’t.

If they think a goal seems unrealistic, or they need new tools and equipment, don’t dismiss it. Instead, talk with your team to see if this is a shared opinion to determine what steps need to be taken next.

Listening to your team will build trust, allowing you to further improve your team’s overall productivity.

4. Set Reachable Goals

Improve your productivity by setting goals for the day, for the week, for the month, and so on. Communicate these goals daily with your crew so they know what is expected of them. If something seems unreasonable, discuss it quickly and determine a goal that works best for the team.

Remember to always plan goals that are realistic, relevant and timely.

5. Plan A Course Of Action

What do you need to get the project done, and get it done well? Make a plan before the start of the project to determine how big of a team you need, what materials are needed, what your goals should be, etc.

Think through the logistics and timeline of the project and plan a course of action. This will help you, the property owner and your team get an idea of what is needed to complete the project.

6. Check Inventory

To improve productivity, check your materials frequently. If you don’t have the materials required to complete your tasks, the project will likely be delayed for a few days or longer.

We recommend checking your inventory at least weekly to make sure you have enough materials to last through the week. If the crew notices materials are lacking, handle it quickly to stay on task.

Double check your current inventory against the number of materials needed in your initial plan. If these numbers continuously match up, your team should remain on-time and productive.

7. Reward Your Team

Your crew deserves rewards for their hard work every now and then! Give incentives for hitting goals, such as catered lunch, drinks after work, or whatever you can think of. Don’t be afraid to get creative with it.

It’s important to remind your team that their work isn’t going unnoticed. By rewarding them for their hard work, you will encourage them to keep hitting goals and moving forward. These rewards can be simple and can make a huge difference in productivity.

8. Delegate Tasks

Get to know your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Cater to their strengths by delegating tasks that they can manage and excel in. This will remind them that you’re paying attention while growing their leadership and time management skills—both of which are vital for a productive construction site.

Likewise, make sure your employees and partners in management positions are fit for the project. More often than not, these will be the people communicating between you and your crew. You need to be sure they understand the goals that need to be hit, how to hit them, and how to communicate it to your team.

If you notice a disconnect between management and your team, check it out and see where the problem is coming from. If your team doesn’t respect management, or your management officers aren’t doing their job correctly, it could lead to issues with productivity. To stay on track, nip these issues before they grow into larger problems.

9. Practice Safe Techniques

As we mentioned earlier, safety plays a huge role in productivity. While it’s impossible to prevent all work-related injuries, you need to be sure your team is following the safety guidelines on the construction site.

Invest some extra time and money into safety training and make sure each project member attends. The goal is to remain productive and keep injury levels as low as possible, so don’t take these safety measures for granted!

10. Work With The End Goal In Mind

When communicating with your team, make sure you are all working together with the end goal in mind. Take the time to assess every step in the process. Are these goals allowing your crew to hit the end goal? If not, reevaluate.

Sometimes it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and start working on other ideas within the project. However, always remember what your end goal is. If these ideas help you get there sooner, great! If not, go back to the drawing board and create new ideas to improve productivity and work towards your final goal.

11. Choose The Right Suppliers

This is one of the most important steps to improve productivity. You need to be sure that your suppliers are on-board and on-target with your project.

If your supplies don’t have similar goals and values, there’s a chance they won’t be the right fit for your project. You should be able to trust that your suppliers will make an effort to complete the project on time and not delay your team.

Even Your Suppliers Can Affect Overall Productivity On Your Site

Here at Concrete Supply Co., we know how important it is to choose the right supplier. You need a team you can trust to join your project and maintain productivity with you—our team can do that and more!

No matter the project, we can help. We promise to value your employees, community, industry, and your timeline. We want to be an extension of your team by working together towards your individual goals.

Want to learn more about us? Reach out to us today to see how we can be a benefit to your current or future projects. We can’t wait to hear from you!

For more information about how to pick the right suppliers, download our Guide To Pre-Qualifying Suppliers!

 

construction workers communicating to improve productivity
2019-05-01T09:40:26-04:00

What Your Concrete Supplier’s Affiliation With CRMCA Means For You

Hire A Concrete Supplier Affiliated With CRMCA and Your Project Will Benefit

A Look Into What The Carolinas Ready Mixed Association Stands For

The Carolinas Ready Mixed Concrete Association, or CRMCA, is a non-profit industry trade organization with members all over the Carolinas. The organization, established in 1951 by a group of ready mixed concrete producers and companies,  supplies materials, equipment, and services to the concrete industry throughout North and South Carolina.

The CRMCA provides its members with product promotion, industry advocacy, education and technical services. Now, the organization offers its members so much more, even making it their purpose to accomplish the following:

  • Present a single voice before State and Federal governments who play a role in regulating the concrete industry.
  • Provide a clearing house through which members may coordinate their efforts in solving common problems.
  • Remain dedicated to the overall expansion and improvement of the ready mixed concrete industry.
  • Sponsor educational programs, seminars and workshops to promote the latest advances in concrete technology.   
  • Create a platform to address other issues of interest to the industry.
  • Promote the highest standards of business practices among members.
  • Provide a service to the industry that better performs by a group rather than an individual or individual company.
  • Encourage the increased use and applications of ready mixed concrete to advance into new markets.
  • Enhance cooperation between the suppliers and and the providers of ready mixed concrete, which will benefit the industry and consumers.  

What Does Your Supplier’s CRMCA Affiliation Mean For Your Project?

The benefits of being a CRMCA member are obvious, but what do those benefits mean for you? It’s a good question. 

As a CRMCA affiliated supplier we’re able to take what we get from our membership and give it right back to you–our customers! (After you’re finished reading this blog, be sure to see the list of other professional associations we belong to.)

See the various ways you can benefit from having a Carolinas Ready Mixed Concrete Association supplier on your project.

1. A Wealth of Knowledge And Experience

The CRMCA fosters an environment where members can freely exchange innovative ideas, share experiences, discuss best practices, and tackle problems together. It’s an environment where members encourage each other to grow, find mentors, and gain new insight or knowledge–and that’s exactly what happens.

The CRMCA brings ready mix concrete industry producers and suppliers from all over the Carolinas together—so you can imagine this leads to some extremely productive conversations. And ultimately it’s YOU who benefits from the results!

2. Up-To-Date Education and Safety Training

The Carolinas Ready Mixed Concrete Association offers its members a number of educational and safety training opportunities. From educational seminars and industry related certificate programs to lunch & learn presentations and courses introducing new safety procedures–CRMCA members are provided with a full calendar of events and are welcome to attend as they see fit.

If furthering your own concrete knowledge interests you, many time the CRMCA organization offers their events to the public. Or, the supplier themselves will hold their own events to teach their customers what they’ve learned. That’s right, did you know we offered lunch-and-learn presentations?

Most CRMCA members dedicate themselves to advancing the ready mixed concrete industry. To do this, take steps to continue furthering their education. This should give anyone who might have a CRMCA supplier working on their project peace of mind. A CRMCA concrete supplier will have current knowledge of various procedures, materials, new techniques and more, allowing them to work in a safe, efficient, and sustainable way.

3. Access To Mutually Beneficial Partnerships Within The Industry

Networking is a well known benefit of joining any industry trade organization, and it’s certainly a benefit of belonging to the CRMCA. Through CRMCA, members have the opportunity to network with other Carolina ready mixed concrete industry players. This allows them to gain contacts, clients and most importantly, partners.

For you, this means if your supplier doesn’t know how to do something required of your project, or more often, doesn’t have the resources to do so, they know someone who does!

4. Shared Values

Over the years, members of the Carolinas Ready Mixed Concrete Association have realized just how big of an impact they can have on the local Carolina community. The organization regularly hosts events and fundraisers to spread awareness or raise money and members actively participate.  

Just a few months ago, members from the Concrete Supply Co. team sponsored and participated in a fundraiser through CRMCA for the NC PAC. And we didn’t stop there, see the other ways we got involved in the community throughout 2018.

For CRMCA members, community involvement typically goes beyond membership. Generally, this sense of responsibility to the community is apparent within their own company culture. We’ve certainly made it a part of ours!

Even more than community involvement, The CRMCA encourages its members who care about doing good for the earth. The CRMCA Active Environmental Committee meets annually with the North and South Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (NCDENR and SCDHEC). During these meetings, department members discuss the latest environmental issues and find solutions.    

If your company strives to do what’s best for the local community or places environmental sustainability high on its list of values, this is great news. Working with a supplier who shares your values will lead to a productive and successful project.

We’ve seen first hand the high standard of professionalism CRMCA members are held to. You’re sure to see the benefits of having a Carolina Ready Mixed Concrete Association affiliated member working on your next project. Locate one for your next job.

And be sure to check out our Guide to Pre-qualifying Suppliers to ensure your CRMCA ready-mix supplier is entirely the right company for the job.

CRMCA-affiliation
2019-03-19T16:35:19-04:00

How to Winterize Your Construction Site

How to Winterize Your Construction Site

Unpredictable–there really is no better way to describe winter weather conditions in the Carolinas.

While we see our fair share of blue sky, sunny, 60 degree days, it’s not all that uncommon to see arctic temps (by our standard), freezing rain, sleet, ice, and even snow in the forecast. We should also mention, the switch can happen quite literally overnight.

When real winter conditions take effect, construction work becomes significantly more difficult and dangerous. But if there’s one thing those of us involved in the construction industry know, it’s that deadlines don’t stop for anything–especially outside temperatures or weather.

Winter brings a whole host of new hazards to your construction site. Therefore, it’s important to understand how to properly winterize your team and your worksite.

Taking steps to winterize your construction site will:

  • Prevent accidents with your crew
  • Ensure your crew is able to continue working productively (and safely)
  • Keep the project moving forward (hey, even if it’s moving slowly–it’s still moving!)
  • Limit citations for safety violations
  • Protect the overall project investment, equipment, work-ethic, etc.

Know When To Call It A Day

Know when you’re putting the safety of your crew and productivity of your site at risk. Heavy rain, frigid temperatures, high winds, ice or snow can put site and crew managers in a difficult position to “call it a day”. If you don’t call off the workday altogether, you may consider limiting work hours to only the warmest parts of the day or providing more frequent breaks.

When creating short and long term project timelines, be sure to account for inclement weather that could create project delays.

To avoid being caught off guard by weather changes, keep a close eye on the forecast and make judgment calls based on that. Then, have a plan in place to get the site and crew prepared. The National Weather Service is a reliable source for local weather information.

Maintain Functioning Equipment

When bad weather is looming, take steps to secure equipment, materials, and temporary structures to prevent potential damage. Store scaffolding, position cranes, secure loose materials like netting, tools, ladders, chutes, and other items that could shift or move during a storm.

Keep in mind some equipment on your site will feel the effects of weather more than others. Before use, equipment and vehicles should be warmed up properly and then inspected to determine whether they are functioning properly or if they require service.

Educate Crews On Winter Work Safety

While your crew should have a thorough understanding of how to work safely in all types of conditions, winter weather is especially critical. Educate your team on the hazards of working in winter weather and provide them with the knowledge to keep them safe.

Employers should encourage crew members to wear necessary personal protective equipment (PEE) for winter conditions. Layers of loose-fitting clothing will keep heat insulated and a layer to protect against wind and rain on top will provide additional comfort. If you get warm throughout the day you can easily remove a layer and continue working. Knit masks, warm hats, water-resistant gloves, and slip-proof insulated boots may also be necessary depending on the severity of the conditions.

Employees should be able to recognize the symptoms of cold-related injuries. This way, they can better monitor themselves and their coworkers to ensure safety throughout the site.

While many employers recognize the importance of providing their crew members with water on warm days, it’s just as important to maintain hydration on cold days. Warm liquids during breaks can keep people warm and hydrated.

Ensure Clear Work Surfaces

When temperatures drop and working surfaces become wet, the risk for injury is heightened. Falls are already one of the most common types of construction site accidents. In order to prevent slips, trips, and falls, all walking surfaces should be cleared of snow or ice and coated in ice melt or sand as quickly as possible. Surfaces should include roofs, ladders, scaffolding, roads, and so on.

Pick up loose debris, waste materials, and misplaced tools as frequently as possible to prevent a hidden hazard from causing injury. Never use scaffolds, aerial lifts, or ladders in ice, snow or wind! And keep your site stocked with floor mats and slippery surface signs for added coverage.

Cold Weather Concreting?

If your project timeline requires you to place concrete in the cold weather, there are a few things you’ll want to know:

  • What can go wrong while pouring concrete in cold weather conditions. More or less the problems you’ll face while cold weather concreting.
  • How your ready mix provider can help you overcome the problems associated with cold weather concreting. The changes a supplier can make to help your concrete withstand the cold temperatures.
  • The mistakes frequently made when cold weather concrete pouring. And how best to avoid making those mistakes yourself.

All of which we discuss in a previous blog post, Cold Weather Concreting 101.

Or check out one of our other blog posts centered around safety on the site, Concrete Construction Hazards With Solutions From OSHA.

As you can see, cold temperatures and inclement weather require rather specific measures to create a safe, productive construction site. While these extra steps are likely to slow your site and project timeline down, they ensure your project won’t be derailed by accidents, damage or loss. Through all of the uncertainty and risks winter weather adds to your project, you’ll want a supplier who is flexible. It’s critical that whoever you select as a supplier is willing to work with you if your timeline fluctuates.

For more on what to look for in a supplier, download a copy of our Guide To Pre-Qualifying Supplier. The guide will help you create a pre-qualification process that will allow you to narrow in on a shortlist of qualified suppliers.

Download The Contractors Guide To Pre-Qualifying Suppliers
winterize construction site
2019-03-19T14:55:05-04:00

6 Tips For Effectively Communicating With Your Suppliers

Tips To Improve Communication Between You And Your Suppliers

Communication is a critical component of any construction project–it’s also one of the biggest pain points for construction professionals today.

While communication is important in any industry, the essential role it plays specifically with regards to construction is not to be understated. Poor communication between key players on a construction project can equate to huge monetary losses, safety hazards, missed deadlines, and an overall unsuccessful finished product. Good communication in the construction industry is the difference between a project that’s completed on time and on budget, or a complete disaster.  

As a large concrete supplier with over 60 years of industry experience, we’ve seen first hand the toll poor communication can take on the overall success of a construction project. We also know improving communication is a two-way street–suppliers like us have just as much to lose if communication isn’t up to par.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of tips for suppliers (like ourselves) and top construction professionals, decision makers, contractors, subcontractors, and/or project managers (like you), for improving communication.  

1. Get On The Same Page From The Start

Discuss your process, priorities, and goals for the project at the very beginning of the partnership. The initial meeting is a great time to get it all out on the table. When a supplier understands what is important to you and the project, they’re able to work with that in mind. When partners work with the same goal in mind, great things happen.   

Having similar goals and values as your supplier is an important factor to consider as you start your supplier selection process.

2. Avoid Using Industry Jargon and Buzzwords

We’ve worked in the concrete industry for 60+ years. Some would say we’re experts in all things concrete. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you are! And vice versa.

We both work in the construction industry and while we have a general understanding of what the other does, messages sometimes get lost in translation when industry-specific jargon and buzzwords are used. Ensure each party is able to understand the details of the project by using general terms each is likely to understand. If a concept is foreign, take the time to explain it.

3.  Identify Your Chain Of Command And Points Of Contact

When you or your supplier doesn’t know who to contact with a question, concern, complaint, problem, etc–it can be frustrating. This is particularly a problem on a construction project where there are so many different parties involved.  

Don’t assume that because your chain of command is documented in the contract, that other parties understand it. The best way to avoid confusion is to provide a single point of contact. This person should hold some authority, be organized, have good communication skills, be willing to feed information to the rest of the team and make executive decisions. With a single point of contact, your back and forth messaging will remain consistent and create less opportunity for misunderstanding.

4. Define The Rules Of Engagement

Set the standards for efficient and effective communication. Each party involved will have different communication expectations, strategies, and techniques–find a common ground! Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • How often will you provide updates and reports? How often will you expect updates and reports?
  • What channels or methods of communication will be used? (A communication tool or software that both parties are familiar with can be a powerful way to operationalize effective communication.)
  • Are there certain hours or days when either party isn’t open to being contacted?
  • How much notice is required for cancellations, timeline changes, etc.?
  • What information do you need from the other party and when?     

5. Be Transparent

Often in construction, changes are made to the plan or timeline quickly, problems arise that are out of your control, or someone makes a mistake (hey, we all make ‘em!). Whatever it is, be transparent with all parties involved. You’ll want to give everyone else plenty of time to readjust to the changes that were made.

Transparency is critical in fostering a trusting and successful partnership free of tension and conflict.

6. Practice Active Listening

Listening is an essential, yet often forgotten part of communication. You must accurately receive a message in order to accurately relay it to your team. Poor listening has ruined its fair share of relationships, don’t let it add tension to yours.

The best listeners make eye contact, ask relevant questions, mirror gestures and expressions, don’t interrupt, and paraphrase what was said to show they understand.

Often times, just by listening attentively to one another we’re able to solve problems before they even arise. Wouldn’t that be nice?

These tips will ensure effective communication between you and your suppliers, therefore decreasing the tension put on the relationship and increasing the likelihood that your project is successful!

Though there are steps that can be taken throughout your partnership with a supplier to improve communication, it helps if you select a supplier who has a strong and proven track record for thorough communication.

During your supplier pre-qualification process, don’t be afraid to question the supplier’s communication techniques. If they don’t align with your preferences or needs, it may be an indication that the relationship wasn’t meant to be.

For more on how to choose the right supplier for your project, download our guide to pre-qualifying suppliers. The guide will help construction decision makers like you, develop a process for measuring a supplier’s ability to complete a project.

Download your copy of our Guide to Pre-qualifying Suppliers and start developing your team’s pre-qualification process.  

Show Me How To Pre-qualify Suppliers
a contractor practicing effective communication with their suppliers
2019-03-19T14:50:57-04:00

A Step-By-Step Guide To Evaluating A Supplier’s Performance

Supplier Performance Management: A Step-By-Step Guide To Evaluating A Supplier’s Performance

Many companies rely heavily on their supplier’s performance for various aspects of their business process. Whether your suppliers provide materials, labor, equipment, or services, it’s likely that they play a critical role in your business’s overall success. With so much on the line, you must depend on your supplier’s ability to be timely, deliver high quality, maintain a professional relationship and keep your best interests in mind.

If your business’s day-to-day operations involve a supplier, it’s important to prequalify and select the right man for the project initially, but also to continuously evaluate their performance throughout the partnership. Through the evaluation of a supplier’s performance, companies can ensure and maintain the best service while eliminating suppliers who fail to comply with performance requirements.   

Supplier performance management is a business practice that is used to measure, analyze, and manage the supplier’s performance in an effort to cut costs, alleviate risks, and drive continuous improvement for both yours and your supplier’s teams.

The businesses that have the best luck with suppliers have a formalized system in place to track and evaluate their supplier’s performance. Some might even credit the smooth operation and profitability of their companies to their supplier evaluation process.

Step One: Establish An Evaluation Criteria

It’s important to determine what characteristics your suppliers need to have, demonstrate, and maintain in order to continue doing business with your company. From the start of the relationship, they should be entirely aware of these characteristics and know that they will be regularly (monthly, quarterly, annually) evaluated based on them.  

Your business’s industry, processes, and specific needs will dictate the criteria used to evaluate the performance of your suppliers. Your criteria may include:

Accuracy

Has your supplier delivered the right goods or provided the right services? How often do you come across product flaws or service mistakes? If the success of your business hinges on the accuracy of your suppliers, this is an important factor to evaluate on.

Timeliness

Does your supplier do their very best to stick to your timeline? Now sure, depending on the industry, certain things might come up that are out of your supplier’s control. But if a supplier is frequently late with no explanation, it’s your business that suffers.

Responsiveness

Does your supplier respond to your inquiries or concerns? When you make an order, have a question, or need to address a concern, are you able to get in direct contact with a representative? Believe it or not, a supplier who prioritizes responsiveness can save you a lot of stress!

Capability and Flexibility

Can you depend on your supplier to meet and accommodate your needs on a regular and/or long-term basis? It seems like a no-brainer, but you’ll really want to ensure your supplier can meet your needs.

Quality Control

Does the supplier consistently provide you with the best quality goods and service? How is the service? Consider the owner, sales rep, delivery drivers, and accounts receivable. Are they people you enjoy and are comfortable doing business with?

You may have noticed we left a somewhat important factor off the list–cost. While cost is a big factor in choosing and evaluating a supplier, it should not be a factor you weigh the heaviest on. Instead, focus on the factors we’ve listed. Keep in mind, a supplier can have the lowest price but the lowest quality of work, too.

Once you’ve established criteria for evaluation, you can proceed with your evaluation process.  

Step Two: Classify Suppliers For Evaluation

If your supply chain is made up of multiple suppliers, each of whom covers a different aspect of your business process or has more of an influence on your business than another, it wouldn’t make sense to evaluate them all the same way.

Decide how to classify your suppliers and then evaluate them according to the effect they have on your business process. By divvying up suppliers into two categories, such as critical and non-critical or primary and secondary, you can devote more time to measuring the performance of your critical suppliers.

Step Three: Determine Roles In The Evaluation Process

Though it will depend on the resources you have available to allocate towards the process–this classification step will help you determine who in your organization should be responsible for evaluating which supplier. There likely isn’t a single member of your organization who gets the full picture of each supplier’s performance. Those who work closest to the supplier should complete the evaluation. From there, who will be responsible for reviewing and making decisions based on the evaluation?

Step Four: Lay Down A Method For Evaluation

There are a few techniques businesses will use for rating a supplier’s performance. Techniques include evaluation forms, surveys, system metrics, and software applications.

You might consider crafting a survey that asks your own employees to rate and answer questions pertaining to the supplier. You can review how many corrective actions and/ or warnings you had to issue a supplier. Look at how many products you had to scrap or return because the supplier failed to meet specifications. You may also choose to monitor suppliers through a periodical auditing process.

The bottom line is that you need to determine a method that will allow you to generate reports throughout the course of the relationship.

Step Five: Know When To Say Goodbye

As you monitor a supplier’s performance, you have to decide when to praise them and when to issue a red flag or part ways.

Be sure to show appreciation for a job well done. Continue to do business with suppliers who consistently demonstrate excellent performance.

If you have a supplier you feel isn’t performing to their full potential, or to your expectations, raise a red flag, issue a warning–whatever you feel is necessary. By giving a warning, you give the supplier an opportunity to correct the problem. Remember, it’s not about reviewing your supplier’s performance as much as it’s about helping improve your partnership.

Finally, there’s no reason to tolerate ongoing bad service or a partnership that isn’t mutually beneficial. You may have to let go of a supplier that is underperforming or a bad fit–that’s ok!

Now, of course, a prerequisite to evaluating your suppliers is prequalifying and selecting them. Prequalify the right supplier from the get-go, and you’ll mitigate the risk of selecting the wrong supplier.

See our Contractors Guide to Pre-Qualifying Suppliers for more on how a contractor can establish a pre-qualification process that leads them to the right supplier for their project.   

At the end of the day, the relationship you have with your suppliers is a business partnership. If both parties are working to make sure the partnership is a success, it will be!

Contractors Guide To Pre-Qualifying Suppliers

Have questions? We’d be happy to answer them from a supplier perspective. Contact us here!    

contractor overseeing supplier's performance
2019-03-19T15:11:38-04:00

Concrete Construction Hazards With Solutions From OSHA

Concrete Construction Hazards and Our Solutions From OSHA

Like many labor-intensive jobs, there are a few occupational safety hazards of working in the concrete construction industry.

At Concrete Supply Co., we believe you, your co-workers, supervisors, and project managers should take the necessary steps to eliminate the potential dangers that exist on your worksite. Our goal is to ensure each worksite is safe for all.

Keep in mind, even the most basic of concrete worksites can be filled with safety hazards.

Throughout our 60 years in the residential, commercial, and DOT concrete construction industries, we’ve become very familiar with the hazards that exist on site. With that being said, we’ve also become accustomed to following OSHA’s specific concrete construction guidelines in order to avoid hazards and keep the site safe.

When it comes time to start your next concrete construction job, plan ahead in a way that prevents the following hazards:

  1. Chemical burns
  2. Respiratory irritation, illness, or infection
  3. Injuries for improper lifting
  4. Form blowout
  5. Injuries from falling objects
  6. Falls from elevated platforms
  7. Vehicle accidents

Then, implement the guidelines mandated by OSHA to solve or eliminate the concrete industry hazard from your work zone.

Irritation, Dermatitis, and Burns

Any type of direct contact with wet concrete can quickly lead to skin irritation, dermatitis, or worse, a chemical burn.

Think about it–as concrete hardens it absorbs moisture. The chemicals in cement pull moisture out of anything to aid in the drying process.

When cement pulls the moisture from skin, it leaves behind severely damage skin cells. Once concrete hardens, if left untreated, the skin will begin to blister, swell, and bleed, eventually becoming a second to third-degree burn.

The most severe cases of skin coming in direct contact with concrete have led to scarring, the need for skin grafts, and even amputations. And the harmful effects of skin coming in direct contact with concrete are only worsened when admixtures are introduced to the concrete mixture.

OSHA reports that concrete workers in the U.S. lose four times as many workdays for skin problems compared to other construction trade workers.   

If you or your crew are working with fresh concrete, extreme care should be taken to avoid and treat skin irritation and/or chemical burns. Always wear protective equipment such as waterproof apparel, tall boots, alkali-resistant gloves, long pants, and long sleeves while on site. If skin irritation persists or in the case of a deep burn, seek medical attention immediately.   

OSHA also mandates that employers must supply workers with alkali-resistant gloves and coveralls, as well as provide access to emergency washing stations in order to avoid burns from contact with wet concrete and cement.

Find more of OSHA’s respiratory protection guidelines.

Respiratory Irritation

Exposure to dust from dry concrete mixtures can irritate the respiratory system, leading to various infections and illnesses. In the short term, inhaling concrete dust can irritate the nose and throat making it difficult to breathe.

Know that dust from sanding, grinding, cutting, pouring, and mixing concrete can find its way into the air you and your crew breath.

Therefore, OSHA requires employers to provide persons who perform or are in the area of any of the previously mentioned actions with suitable respiratory protective equipment. This equipment can include a P-, N- or R-95 respirator or face mask to minimize inhalation of cement-related air pollution on site.

When you mix your own concrete on the job site, there is an increased risk for breathing it in. You can prevent the likelihood of breathing a mix’s dust in by having a supplier, like Concrete Supply Co. create the mix in their controlled plant and then delivering it to your site by truck. See the various project’s we’ve safely mixed and delivered ready-mixes to in the past.

Improper Lifting Injuries

While injuries from lifting are common on construction sites, they tend to be especially common with concrete construction due to improper lifting techniques. At about 150 pounds per cubic foot, even a small piece of concrete can weigh enough to cause serious, long-term damage.

Safe lifting procedures and load-carrying techniques will almost always prevent painful and expensive injuries on the job site. When moving items over 50 pounds, use a forklift or lift the load with another individual on the job site. If you must move heavy objects manually, lower and lift with the knees, not the back, and avoid twisting while carrying heavy items.

OSHA encourages employers to train employees on how to lift safely and to implement effective ergonomic (the science of designing the job, equipment, and workspace to fit the worker) programs. Doing so will help ensure a workplace free of hazards.

Read more on how OSHA recommends preventing lifting injuries.

Vehicle Accidents

Often a concrete construction site requires large, heavy-duty pieces of construction equipment and vehicles to operate within a tight work zone–a disaster waiting to happen. When vehicles and other types of mobile equipment are operated improperly by untrained workers, the risk of injuries or even fatalities in the work zone is possible.

It should be known that working on a highly active site is serious. This is not the place for anyone to cut corners or cheat on safety. Encourage your workers to remain highly vigilant and always pay attention. This will vehicle accidents to a minimum.

According to OSHA, you can further prevent concrete construction site accidents by:

  • Allowing only workers who are extensively trained to operate equipment. (If a trained worker is not available, bring in an experienced outside professional for concrete pours and other specialty work.)
  • Supplying workers with high-visibility safety apparel.
  • Using temporary traffic barriers throughout the workspace to notify drivers of clearances, speed limits, duration and type of operations, volume of traffic, etc.
  • Planning and setting up the work area in a way that allows for any possible type of maneuvers. (Consider the size of any construction vehicles or equipment that may enter the site.)
  • See more from OSHA on site vehicle safety.

When it comes to any concrete vehicle-related operations, be sure they are conducted under the direct supervision of a competent supervisor.

Form blow-out

When using concrete formworks, blow-outs are a very scary but oh-so-real possibility.

The term “blow-out” refers to a break in the form. Form blow-out is due to the pressure from liquid concrete during the concrete placement and consolidation. A blow-out can result in catastrophic effects not only on the structure itself, but injuring workers who may have been working on the structure.  

OSHA states that formwork shall be designed, fabricated, erected, supported, braced and maintained so that it will be capable of supporting without failure all vertical and lateral loads that may reasonably be anticipated to be applied to the formwork.

Find a Supplier Who Mitigates Concrete Construction Hazards and Adheres to OSHA Standards

While the listed are general concrete industry hazards, every worksite should have a competent individual or team of individuals responsible for performing an assessment of the site-specific hazards and measures that should be taken to limit them.

Site management should be responsible for ensuring all equipment is routinely serviced and maintained in a safe condition. This is done by conducting periodic on-site inspections of operations, and providing operation and safety training for relevant employees. Site supervisors should continuously observe operation safety, provide immediate corrective training for all unsafe acts, and conduct pre-pour inspections. Employees and crew members should follow all safety and operational procedures and immediately notify supervision of all unsafe conditions. Together you can maintain a safe working environment. 

The reality is, hazards exist on any concrete construction site. But there are steps you can take to control and limit incidents–keeping your entire team safe. Take a look at Safety Data Sheets for Concrete Supply Co. which outline our specific safety practices on our site.

If site safety is a top priority of yours, you should find a concrete supplier who also values safety. Safety is something that is sure to come up during the pre-qualification process. See our guide to pre-qualifying suppliers for more important qualities to look for in a concrete supplier.

Download The Contractors Guide To Pre-Qualifying Suppliers

 

Feel free to contact an experienced project manager on the Concrete Supply Co. team. We would be happy to discuss how we can help you limit the hazards and dangers lurking on your site. Contact us today!

Contact Us

Get a Referral/Estimate
hard hats for safety on a concrete construction site
2019-03-19T14:53:31-04:00

Concrete’s Impact on Building and Infrastructure Resilience

Key Decision Makers Can Enhance Resilience By Choosing Concrete.

Today, Americans are entirely aware of the damage a natural or manmade disaster can have on a community.

From the recent California Wildfires that burned entire towns down; to Hurricanes, Michael, Florence, and Irma that brought more wind and rain than we could have imagined; on top of countless other disasters including floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes that wreaked havoc on our nation this year–we know quite well how serious these disasters can be.  

While no one is completely out of harm’s way when it comes to these disastrous events, key decision makers like city planners, architects, designers, and builders can make decisions that enhance a community’s infrastructure resilience. One of those key decisions is to build with concrete.

What Makes Buildings and Infrastructure Systems Resilient?

The National Infrastructure Advisory Council defines infrastructure resilience as the ability to reduce the magnitude and/or duration of disruptive events.

The effectiveness of a resilient building or infrastructure system depends on its ability to anticipate, absorb, adapt to, and/or rapidly recover from a potentially disruptive event. Essentially, how quickly a community is able to restore energy, transportation, clean water, and communication services to residents after a disaster is the measure of a community’s infrastructure resilience.

Community facilities such as fire, police, health care, government entities, and designated shelters or residential units are typically built to the highest resilience.

The Impact Of Material Selection On Resilience:

A community can gain resilience when buildings are constructed in a way that allows them to withstand intense, disastrous events. As you can imagine, this type of resilience weighs heavily on the material selection process.

Resilient communities start with comprehensive planning and include stricter building codes that produce strong, long-lasting structures. As someone responsible for planning and designing buildings and infrastructure systems, it’s important to recognize the opportunity for resilience throughout the material selection process.

The most common building materials include wood, brick, stone, steel, iron–all of which have pros and cons.

Take wood for example. Wood is a very common building material boasting qualities such as being: strong, lightweight, and easy to use. But it should be noted that wood is easily prone to decaying and damage due to moisture, pest infestation, fire, and whatever other harsh environmental elements might come about.

A material that can be incorporated in several key aspects of a building or infrastructure system project to make it more durable and disaster resistant is concrete.

Read more of our construction need-to-knows for material management success.

Concrete Makes Buildings And Infrastructure Systems Resilient.

Nobody can deny concrete’s strength, durability, longevity, and inherent resilience, among many other benefits.

Today, concrete is the only building material that cost-effectively delivers:

  • Energy efficiency through thermal mass
  • Sound insulation
  • 100% recyclability–considered a sustainable building materials!
  • Durability in any type of environment
  • Low carbon footprint for a structure or surface throughout its lifecycle
  • Safety and security
  • Versatility in shape, color, pattern, etc.
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Abundance of mix materials (water, air, gravel, sand) almost everywhere
  • Resilience

Concrete doesn’t burn, rust, or rot. It’s resistant to fire, wind, water, vibrations, and earthquakes.

Moreover, concrete provides resiliency in the form of weight and mass. Think about it, concrete is physically heavier than most other building materials. It’s due to this quality that concrete structures are able to resist almost any force a disastrous event may unleash.

Below you can see the resilience of concrete wall systems, floor systems, finishes, roof tiles, storm shelters, retaining walls, and pavements in the face of various conditions.chart showing the resilience of concrete

As a stakeholder, designer or builder, it is in your best interest to consider how you can contribute to a building or infrastructure system’s resilience. A concrete wall, floor and/or roof system can provide your structure with the best combination of strength, security, and resilience.

Put it in Concrete Terms:

When you choose to build with concrete, you’re able to enjoy peace of mind knowing that you are providing unsurpassed safety and security for the building or community’s occupants. You’ll play a part in limiting the risk for costly property damage and/or losses, ensuring long-term continuity, and enhancing overall building resilience.

The same piece of mind you’ll enjoy knowing you chose to build with a resilient building material like concrete, is the piece of mind we enjoy knowing we supply our clients with a quality and well designed ready-mix concrete!

At Concrete Supply Co., we’ve made it our mission to be the premier provider of quality ready-mix concrete and related services while acting in the best interest of our employees, customers, shareholders, and the community.

We strive to embody our values of integrity, family, customers, teamwork, community, industry, and profitability in everything we do–something we feel is important to find in any supplier.

Learn more about who we are at Concrete Supply Co

If your next concrete project requires concrete that is extra strong, be sure to let your ready mix supplier know. Your ready-mix can be mixed in a way that contributes to the strength. A strong concrete ready-mix will ultimately allow you to have a more resilient building. For more on how to get the best ready-mix for your job, download our checklist.

Download Checklist
resilient city infrastructure
2019-02-11T10:41:28-04:00

Cold Weather Concreting 101

Cold Weather Concreting Is Possible When Certain Precautions Are Taken

Construction doesn’t stop–it’s a year-round industry. This means concrete mixes, pours and placements are needed all year and cannot come to a halt due to less-than-ideal weather conditions.

While concrete can be mixed and poured during the cold weather, there are many things to keep in mind which we plan to detail throughout this blog.

  • First, we’ll explain what can go wrong while pouring concrete in cold weather conditions.
  • Then, we’ll discuss how your ready mix provider can help you overcome the problems associated with cold weather concreting.
  • Finally, we’ll warn you of the mistakes we frequently see when it comes to cold weather concrete pouring and tips to avoid making those mistakes.  

Before we start, we feel it’s important to all get on the same page as to what exactly “cold weather” is considered.

The ACI or American Concrete Institute says in their ACI 306R-10 “Guide to Cold Weather Concreting that “cold weather exists when the air temperature has fallen to, or is expected to fall below 40℉ during the protection period*.” So if you find yourself grabbing a jacket on your way out the door, consider the air temperature before mixing, pouring, or placing concrete.

*The “protection period” is defined as the time required to prevent concrete from being affected by exposure to cold weather.

The Two Biggest Problems Cold Weather Concreting Creates

Now, there are two big problems you’ll face when pouring concrete in cold weather.

Problem #1

Concrete must be protected from freezing at an early age. If concrete freezes prior to reaching an initial strength of 500 psi it will not achieve its intended strength.

A general rule to keep in mind is that once the concrete has gained a strength of about 500 psi, it can withstand the effects of one freezing-and-thawing cycle. Exterior concrete should be air entrained and at the minimum required strength prior to exposure to multiple freezing-and-thawing cycles.

Problem #2

Concrete sets more slowly when it is cold but especially slow when temps are below 40℉. Below 40℉ the hydration reaction basically stops and the concrete will gain strength at a very slow rate.

To help your concrete reach that 500 psi strength ASAP, your ready-mix provider can add to (or change-up) the mix in ways that will get it to set more quickly. Those mix add-ins and changes are explained further below.

Mix adjustments alone can only do so much and its possible additional precautions are required to provide temporary heat prior to, during and after a concrete placement to aid in maintaining the concrete temperature once in place.

Mix Changes Your Ready-Mix Supplier Can Make To Help Your Cold Weather Concrete

Many of the problems experienced with cold weather concrete pouring can be overcome with an experienced ready-mix producer’s assistance. A concrete mix can be manipulated in ways that allow it to set and strengthen quickly.

  • Hot water – As temperatures get colder most producers can start using hot water in the mixing process when requested to meet a minimum placement temperature.
  • Slump – The slump required from any ready-mix is dependent on a variety of things. A slump that is less than 4 inches can reduce bleeding. Since the concrete sets slowly in the cold, bleeding starts later, lasts longer, and you’ll see more bleed water.
  • Accelerators – Accelerators keep setting on a somewhat predictable schedule. Often times you’ll see the use of calcium chloride to speed up the hydration reaction. But consider this–calcium chloride can lead to corrosion of any steel embedded in the concrete and it can lead to a streaked and spotted surface appearance with colored concretes.
  • Non-chloride accelerators – Non-chloride accelerators are readily available and must be used any time there are embedded metals such as reinforcing steel. Non-chloride accelerators are also appealing because they don’t discolor concrete.

*Please note that accelerators should not be considered antifreeze agents. They work to increase the rate of the hydration reaction–not prevent freezing.

  • Fly ash –  Fly ash or slag cement may cause the mix to set slower and generate less heat compared to a straight cement mix. Your ready-mix producer will have straight cement options available upon request.
  • More internal heat – To make the reaction hotter, mixes with higher cement contents can be requested. You may consider ordering a concrete that is one or two classes higher in strength. The use of Type III cement may also be an option based on availability which is typically limited to larger metropolitan areas. Your mix’s internal heat can be used to your advantage, and you’ll see why a little later on in this article.

A quality concrete mix design is crucial for success in construction. At Concrete Supply Co. we believe in our ready-mix designs and their ability to help you achieve a successful cold weather concrete placement.

Avoid These Common Mistakes with Cold Weather Concreting

1. Placing concrete on a frozen ground

measuring ground temp

Concrete should not be placed on ground that is frozen or covered with ice or snow as it will have an immediate and long-term impact on the performance of the concrete. A frozen or cold subgrade will slow the set by lowering the in place concrete temperature reducing the effect of the hot water and/or accelerating admixtures when used. Frozen ground may also settle once thawed leading to potential settlement cracks.

2. Allowing concrete to freeze

Think about it this way, water takes up more space in its ice phase than it does in its liquid phase. So when the water used in your mix freezes, it expands, causing damage to the concrete. Do what you can to ensure your pour sets fast enough to prevent freezing. Additional precautions to prevent the in place concrete from freezing may be needed during the protection period.

3. Not taking advantage of heating techniques (or using them incorrectly)

Many times, heating techniques are used to prevent concrete from freezing (mistake #2). When it comes to flatwork, the best way to protect concrete from the cold is to cover it with blankets after it’s been finished. This is where you should take advantage of the heat concrete generates on its own. Blankets will keep your concrete warm even if the temperature goes below 20℉. Use layers of blankets at corners and edges that could freeze.

If blankets aren’t enough, try laying heating blankets on top of the slab or using hydronic heating pipes to keep the slab from freezing.

Still not enough? Enclose and heat the air with a temporary enclosure. While this option comes with its own problems and can run a pretty penny, it is sometimes your only option if the concrete pour has to happen. Be especially careful when using fuel-fired heaters. If your enclosure isn’t properly ventilated, carbon dioxide can build up and react with the concrete, causing the surface to become weak and dusty.

These same blankets used to protect the in place concrete after the placement can also be used to prevent the subgrade from freezing the day or night before the placement providing a warmer subgrade leading to faster set times.

4. Using cold materials

Not only is it important to ensure your mix, the ground, and the air are warm enough, the materials (forms, embedments, and tools) you use for cold weather concrete pouring should also be above freezing and close to the delivered concrete temperature if possible.

At Concrete Supply Co., we have experience with all types of ready-mixes, even mixes that will stand up to freezing conditions. If you need to pour concrete this winter, download our Get The Best Mix For Your Project Concrete Checklist, and be sure to specify that you’ll be looking to pour your mix during cold temperatures.

And remember, concrete can be poured during cold weather and develop sufficient strength and durability to satisfy requirements when the proper precautions are taken. A mix that is properly proportioned, produced, placed, and protected will survive the cold weather.  

cold weather concrete site
2019-02-11T10:40:24-04:00

6 Types of Concrete Cracks and What They Mean

Six Common Types of Cracks in your Concrete

When you see a crack in your concrete slab or wall, your first assumption is typically that something has been done wrong–but that’s not always the case. Actually, concrete cracks are very common, some are even inevitable.

American Concrete Institute touches on the issue of cracking concrete in their American Concrete Institute manual, ACI 302. 1-40:

“Even with the best floor designs and proper construction, it is unrealistic to expect crack-free and curl-free floors. Consequently, every owner should be advised by both the designer and contractor that it is normal to expect some amount of cracking and curling on every project, and that such occurrences do not necessarily reflect adversely on either the adequacy of the floor’s design or the quality of its construction

We explain 6 of the most common types of concrete cracks below.

1. Plastic shrinkage concrete cracks

When concrete is still in its plastic state (before hardening), it is full of water. When that water eventually leaves the slab, it leaves behind large voids between the solid particles. These empty spaces make the concrete weaker and more prone to cracking. This type of cracking happens frequently and is referred to as “plastic shrinkage cracking”.

While plastic shrinkage cracks can happen anywhere in a slab or wall, they almost always happen at reentrant corners (corners that point into the slab) or with circular objects in the middle of a slab (pipes, plumbing fixtures, drains, and manholes). Since concrete cannot shrink around a corner, stress will cause the concrete to crack from the point of that corner.

plastic shrinkage cracks

Plastic shrinkage cracks are typically very narrow in width and barely visible. While nearly invisible, it is important to remember that plastic shrinkage cracks don’t just exist on the surface, they extend throughout the entire thickness of the slab.

An excessively wet mix is a contributing factor to shrinkage in concrete. While water is an essential ingredient in every concrete mix, there is such a thing as too much water. When the mix contains too much water, the slab will shrink more than if the correct amount of water was used. Hot weather is another big reason for plastic shrinkage cracks.

Control joints can be incorporated into the slab to prevent shrinkage cracking. The joints will open up as the concrete slab gets smaller.

2. Expansion concrete cracks

expansion cracks

Just like a balloon, heat causes concrete to expand. When concrete expands, it pushes against anything in its way (a brick wall or adjacent slab for example). When neither has the ability to flex, the expanding force can be enough to cause concrete to crack.

Expansion joints are used as a point of separation (or isolation), between other static surfaces. Typically made of a compressible material like asphalt, rubber, or lumber, expansion joints must act as shock absorbers to relieve the stress that expansion puts on concrete and prevent cracking.

3. Heaving concrete cracks

heaving cracks

When the ground freezes, it can sometimes lift many inches before thawing and settling back down. This ground movement brought on by the freezing and thawing cycle is a huge factor contributing to concrete cracking. If the slab is not free to move with the ground, the slab will crack.

Large tree roots can have the same effect on a slab. If a tree is located too close to a slab, the growing roots can lift and crack the concrete surface. Always consider this when laying a slab.

4. Settling concrete cracks

settling cracks

On the other hand, ground settling below a concrete slab can also cause cracking.

Settling cracks typically occur in situations where a void is created in the ground below the concrete surface. Think about when a large tree is removed from nearby and the roots begin to decompose or when a utility company digs a trench for their lines, pipes, etc. and don’t compact the soil when they refill it–these are examples of instances where settling cracks are likely to happen.

5. Concrete cracks caused by overloading the slab

overloading cracks

Although concrete is a very strong building material, it does have its limits. Placing excessive amounts of weight on top of a concrete slab can cause cracking. When you hear a concrete mix has a strength of 2000, 3000, 4000, or 5000+ PSI, it is referring to the pounds per square inch it would take to crush that concrete slab.

When it comes to residential concrete slabs, overload of the actual slab isn’t all that common. Instead, what is more likely to occur is excess overload on the ground below the slab.

After a heavy rain or snowmelt when the ground below is soft and wet, excessive weight on the slab can press the concrete down and result in cracks. Residential homeowners who place large recreational vehicles or dumpsters on their driveways are more likely to see this type of cracking.

6. Concrete cracks caused by premature drying

premature drying cracks

There are two common types of cracks brought on by premature drying.

Crazing cracks are very fine, surface cracks that resemble spider webs or shattered glass. When the top of a concrete slab loses moisture too quickly, crazing cracks will likely appear. While unsightly, crazing cracks are not a structural concern.

Crusting cracks typically happen during the concrete stamping process, which is a way of adding texture or pattern to concrete surfaces. On sunny or windy days where the top of the slab dries out quicker than the bottom, the top of the concrete surface can become crusty. When the stamp is embedded, it pulls the surface apart near the stamped joints and causes small cracks around the outside edges of the “stones”. Again, while they don’t look great, crusting cracks are not a structural issue to be considered about.

It’s often difficult to determine exactly what caused a particular crack. Proper site preparation, a quality mix, and good concrete finishing practices can go a long way towards minimizing the appearance of cracks and producing a more aesthetically pleasing concrete project.

We can’t stress the importance of a quality mix design in concrete crack controlling. Read our Concrete Checklist: Get The Best Mix For Your Project, which will guide you and your concrete supplier towards creating the best mix for your concreting project.

concrete cracks
2019-02-11T10:39:41-04:00