Spalling is a serious concern for many facilities with industrial concrete floors that are designed or installed improperly. Spalling can cause forklift repair issues, accelerated equipment failure, increased dust and debris, slower daily inventory management, lower profitability and a variety of other problems. To avoid spalling, it’s important to understand what it is, what causes it and techniques that can prevent the need to repair or replace your floor.
What is Spalling in Joints?
Spalling is when a joint breaks down. The joint is a combination of the wall (face of the joint) and the slab on top. Whether it’s a control joint or a construction joint, it’s spalled once the corner of the joint is broken. Once that happens, it creates a weak point and exposed area for the slab. Over time, that area will grow wider and wider with continued forklift traffic, causing accelerated floor deterioration and expensive forklift damage as well.
What Causes It?
There are a number of reasons spalling can occur, but poor construction or poor design are at the top of the list. If the slab wasn’t designed, poured or finished properly, it can lead to a higher degree of curling. According to the National Ready Mix Concrete Association (NRMCA), “curling is the distortion of a slab into a curved shape by upward or downward bending of the edges. The occurrence is primarily due to differences in moisture and/or temperature between the top and bottom surfaces of a concrete slab.” Curling causes the joint to be more susceptible to spalling. Failure to maintain the joint filler is also a contributing factor.
How Do You Repair Concrete Spalling?
To repair concrete spalling, the affected area needs to be cut out as a square and then filled with rigid epoxy. This is only a temporary solution, however, since it has a limited life and needs to be maintained more often. It also needs to be inspected regularly and, if failed, replaced again. A better solution is to prevent spalling from happening in the first place by proper design, installation and maintenance.
Techniques to Avoid Spalling
Here are some techniques to avoid spalling:
Use armored joints at construction joints: Ideal for construction joints exposed to forklift traffic; armored joints are protected with steel to provide the highest level of durability and impact resistance for the most demanding forklift and pallet rider traffic patterns.
Spalling may be a top concrete floor concern, but you can avoid it with the proper techniques and partnering with the right floor contractor.