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How Long Does Concrete Last? The Truth About Precast Concrete

How Long Does Concrete Last? The Truth About Precast Concrete

Concrete is typically believed to last forever. While it may have ancient durability, its life span doesn’t usually exceed 100 years. Architects recognize concrete as a stone-like, homogeneous material, a mix of limestone and other rock. Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed of coral and shells, thereby possessing stone-like superficial qualities.

One of the interesting new methods of preserving concrete is recycling concrete, but it’s expensive and will reduce its durability.

In truth, concrete differs, and not all types are the same. So lumping all concrete under one roof is inaccurate as each has particular ingredients, mix design, and lifespan.

How long does concrete last on average?

For many projects like building structures and homes, the concrete used is expected to last about thirty to hundred years, depending on the installation methods and construction style.

Different concrete mixes have varying levels of durability depending on their exposure to the environment (weathering) and other materials. But concrete is still a desirable option among many.

When does concrete deterioration start?

Policies generally require buildings to have a minimal lifespan based on the concrete used to prevent excessive construction and demolition waste. However, there comes a time when every concrete structure begins its deterioration process.

If there are no natural disasters, the composite qualities of concrete, which contribute to carbon dioxide emissions, are dated to deteriorate after fifty years.

Usually, masonry buildings don’t get demolished as a result of deterioration. It happens because they get outdated and no dramatic innovation can be done, plus rebuilding will have serious repercussions for the ecosystem.

What are the various factors that affect the lifespan of concrete?

Many concrete structures last for centuries, but the durability of concrete depends on certain factors.

  • Capillary cavities found in concrete cause permeability, which negatively affects the lifespan of any concrete. To ensure low permeability in your concrete structure, use as little water as required when mixing.
  • The moisture of the environment where the concrete is placed plays a huge role in how long the concrete lasts. The entire structure is at risk if the concrete is placed in places with extreme temperatures. After mixing correctly, it is vital to put the complex mix in a more temperate environment.

Is it possible to make concrete buildings and structures last longer?

Building longer-lasting structures has been the goal for decades. Several laws and building codes have been put in place specifically for this. Everyone wishes to create a concrete shell, concrete cover, cantilevered structures, and even concrete elements that will last for decades. But the question remains, is it possible? Let’s have a look.

Construction joints are critical to consider if you want buildings to remain in excellent condition. These joints pave ways for water to seep in and erode the construction steel, in turn, damaging plain concrete and catalyzing chemical reactions. Making sure the construction joints are properly monitored enables you to build better structures that last regardless of the environment or weather.

Avoid frequently drying and wetting concrete to prevent moisture during the initial stages of concrete production and ensure there are adequately distributed air voids. Failure to do this can cause the concrete’s alkalinity to disrupt and produce salts that stay on the surface of the concrete and further reduce the efficacy of the materials and buildings in the long run.

Concrete structures last much longer than most buildings if properly mixed with optimal mix design parameters, good placing, and a proper curing environment.

How long does precast concrete last?

Precast concrete has strict design parameters and is specifically designed to have a lifespan of 50 years. This concrete is ideal for any type of concrete project you wish to embark on because it’s durable.

What are the reasons for precast concrete to last longer?

  • It is common among building and construction industries to mix additives to ensure precast concrete becomes a very durable construction material. Generally, adding water reduces the service life of different concretes. But since precast has tiny cracks within the concrete, it creates longer-lasting structures.
  • How you achieve durable concrete depends on the precast production and how the concrete structures built are maintained. Most concrete is not used to its full potential as it is not allowed to cure adequately. Developers formulate precast indoors in the best weather conditions for proper development.

Concrete in ancient building

Several decades ago and even up to date, the most significant building remains the Pantheon, in Rome. This building, made from unreinforced concrete, has lasted for centuries – but other reinforced concrete structures have crumbled in a matter of years.

This makes everyone wonder why ancient concrete lasts longer than the modern type. A significant difference is the presence of steel reinforcement because steel bars add strength to a concrete project.

Because the structural material includes steel, which is prone to steel corrosion (the steel frame and steel bars). It is necessary to monitor the corrosion of steel to try and inhibit rust.

If reinforced concrete competes with unreinforced concrete, there are quite a few things to consider. Although modernization introduced more durable building technologies, the repair and rebuilding costs required when mounting a concrete building are on the high side. Still, it has replaced environmentally sensitive options like mud brick.

Plain steel reinforcement is affordable compared to unreinforced concrete, which is why reinforced concrete is most sought after nowadays. Steel and concrete have similar thermal expansion characteristics, but concrete is very resistant to fire and wind.

Sometimes, steel can be embedded in concrete, and tiny cracks create an electrochemical reaction that causes the concrete to break, a process called concrete cancer.

But, developers fail to acknowledge a critical difference when you add steel to concrete. You must carefully monitor corrosion as there is now less concrete which can vastly reduce the potential durability of the concrete.

What is the oldest concrete?

This topic has long been debated in society. It is believed that the first forms of concrete used can be traced back to the pyramids at Giza in Egypt. The Egyptians achieved this by mixing mud and straw to create bricks.

Another ideology closely accepted as being part of the oldest strain of concrete in use is in the Gobekli Tepe temple in Turkey; they also made use of many alternative materials, for instance, limestone, mud brick, traditional bricks, and clay-like materials.

Why did Roman concrete last so long?

It is a well-known fact that the concrete infrastructure built by the Romans has withstood mighty ocean waves for about two thousand years. With all these historical practices, future generations wonder why these ancient structures are significantly stronger and have long-lasting properties.

This longevity is a result of the rare mineral being produced when there is an interaction between the seawater and the concrete used in building the sea walls; this chemical reaction is a result of the high pH environment.

Conclusion

Concrete is commonly perceived to last a very long time, hence why it’s used to build contemporary buildings and even bridges.

To preserve the architectural legacy, using concrete is the way to go. Its ability to remain sturdy even when exposed to snow or hot temperatures makes it the perfect foundation for buildings.

FAQs

1. Does concrete lose strength over time?

In a nutshell, yes, it does. Architects point out that concrete installed in a place that experiences extreme temperatures will last a few years less than normal.

2. What is the maximum life of modern concrete?

Generally, for large infrastructures, the lifespan of modern concrete is about 100 years if properly maintained.


Daniel Arkin
Daniel Arkin
Daniel is a graduate of Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Concrete Industry Management. Daniel has introduced several advanced production techniques as Director of Operations for Premier Precast to insure Premier Precast is always on the cutting edge with our precast concrete manufacturing. Premier Precast under Daniel pioneered the use of UHPC in the US into the manufacturing of complex agricultural shapes to be used in a buildings design.

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