simple concrete step question

dirtgirlNovember 3, 2011

Got a tiny--I mean REALLY fine, almost hairline--crack just starting in my precast concrete steps. I have read all about patching cracks and I'm prepared to go that route if I must, but I'm wondering since it's just getting started if a good layer of sealant will do the trick.

If anybody had mentioned to me years ago when we bought them that sealing precasts adds years to their lives, I would have been doing this all along.

BTW, this is a 19-year old set of steps and despite its age it is in otherwise pristine shape and gets scrubbed clean weekly.

Something needs to be done before winter or that crack will only worsen...will a sealant save us?

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Presuming you are in a Zone that gets below freezing weather in winter, the only thing you can do to try to prevent this from widening is to patch or caulk it. Damage from freezing water is a mechanical issue: water gets into a void (like your crack) and exerts force when it freezes. Putting some sealant on the surfaces will not prevent this type of mechanical force from occurring.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 11:58AM
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if its a REALLY fine hairline crack there is no place for a sealant to go. You'll have to widen it in order to get the sealant in. I'd leave it and let it get wider on its own. When it gets wider...then seal it.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 3:19PM
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so sdello, you are saying that sealant on its own MIGHT work, but only if the crack is substantial enough for the sealant to "gain footing?"

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 7:39PM
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What you have to remember is that concrete sealer seals surfaces. It isn't what you typically use to bridge a gap. If this is a very fine crack, sealant might fill it in...until there is some small movement and it opens up wider, which is when you might resort to some form of concrete crack filler with some elasticity. You could just monitor it. Some cracks don't get bigger. But if you have a widening after this winter, then fill it in.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 4:48PM
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Concrete surface sealers are a waste of time. They are only as good as the depth of penetration. It it's on tyhe surface, especially on a traffic area like steps it will be abraded off in a short time and it needs to be regularly reapplied.

Concrete is a material that can actually "close" hairline cracks through "autogenous healing". Minerals will migrate out of the mix into the crack effectively sealing the crack.

I thought by "sealant" you meant like a silicone or urethane sealant/caulk. That's why I said you would need to open a hairline crack to a sufficient with to be able to "fill" it.

Personally, I wouldn't do anyhitng until it was necessary. You could try with the surface sealer but be prepared to reapply it on a regular basis.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 3:11PM
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