When Shouldn’t You Use Self-Leveling Concrete? 

Self-leveling concrete is a concrete mixture formulated to flow and spread evenly across a pre-existing concrete surface in preparation for installing flooring and filling voids. To avoid specific problems, you should avoid using self-leveling concrete in certain situations. 

When Is Self-Leveling Concrete a Problem?

When the Slab is Improperly Prepared

Using self-leveling concrete on an improperly prepared slab can lead to several significant foundation problems. For example, if the underlying surface is not clean, debris-free, or adequately primed, the self-leveling compound may not adhere correctly, causing the new layer to peel away from the substrate (the surface on which the self-leveling concrete is applied). Any remaining oils, dust, or moisture can create weak points, resulting in bubbles or craters in the finished surface. Moreover, an uneven or unstable base can cause the self-leveling concrete to crack or settle unevenly, undermining its intended flatness and structural integrity. These problems highlight the critical importance of thorough surface preparation to ensure the durability and effectiveness of self-leveling concrete applications.

When Used Outdoors

Using self-leveling concrete outdoors is not advisable primarily due to its sensitivity to environmental conditions. Unlike traditional concrete, designers create self-leveling compounds for controlled indoor environments with consistent temperature and moisture levels. Self-leveling concrete can crack and degrade structurally when exposed to rain, snow, and temperature fluctuations. Additionally, while beneficial indoors, its smooth finish can become dangerously slippery when wet, posing a hazard. These vulnerabilities make it unsuitable for use outdoors, where durability and safety are paramount.

When Applied Over Existing Flooring Materials

Applying self-leveling concrete over existing flooring or unprepared wooden surfaces is generally not recommended. These compromise the completeness and bonding of the self-leveling layer.

When Used In Heavy Load or High Traffic Areas

Self-leveling concrete might not be durable in areas of heavy traffic, high impact, or heavy loads. The surface can wear down quickly due to constant abrasion, leading to frequent maintenance and repairs. Bonding issues may also arise, causing the self-leveling layer to delaminate from the substrate, particularly under heavy usage. Moreover, the insufficient load-bearing capacity of self-leveling concrete can compromise the overall stability of the new layer, making it unsuitable for high-demand environments. To prevent these problems, a more durable concrete mix or additional reinforcement might be necessary in such cases.

Other Problems With Self-Leveling Concrete:

It’s Complicated

Using self-leveling concrete involves several complications that can affect the outcome of a project. These include the following:

The process begins with meticulous substrate preparation, which requires cleaning, repairing cracks, and applying a primer to ensure proper adhesion. Any misstep here can lead to poor bonding, cracking, or delamination. 

Mixing the concrete is also complex; it requires precise measurements of water and compound, and any deviation can lead to a mixture that is too thick or too runny, compromising its self-leveling properties. The quick setting time of self-leveling concrete adds to the challenge, as it demands rapid and accurate application to avoid uneven surfaces.

Environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity, must be carefully controlled,Read More...

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