Journal of Commerce – May, 2010
B.C. concrete companies are finding more customers are asking for waterproofing agents in their product, in part because of comments made by U.S. President Barack Obama last year
The recent building boom also spurred interest.
Obama in a July 2009 speech on new technologies, spoke of “new concrete materials that last longer and are waterproofed from the inside out, and that can mean that bridges and roads and buildings can last 20 or 30 years longer than using conventional concrete.”
Terry Berget, sales representative for Rempel Bros., said more engineers on projects specifically request waterproofing agents be added.
At one time, this was just done on a project where high-tide or flooding was a threat.
Recently, Rempel did Abbotsford’s new recreational swimming pool construction, using concrete infused with waterproofing agents.
“We are also seeing it a little more often in parking areas – not the large slabs – but in some smaller parking lots,” Berget said.
Engineers and contractors are saving money and labour by placing such agents within a concrete mix.
A spokesperson in sales for Lafarge agreed that more product was going out with waterproofing agents added, as it eliminates the need for damp-proofing.
Vancouver is home to two waterproofing concrete products.
One is Xypex made by Xypex Chemical Corporation, developed in 1969, and now used in 70 countries. It comes in several forms, including the add-in to concrete.
The second is Kryton International, which has the flagship product KIM (Krystol Internal Membrane).
It has won the Most Innovative Product award from the World of Concrete tradeshow.
In addition, KIM is the first concrete admixture to be certified by the International Code Council – Evaluation Service (ICC-ES) as a chemical admixture used in concrete (AC198).
U.S. products also exist such as IPANEX, a chemical admixture formulated for concrete waterproofing and corrosion control of concrete.
Kryton president Kari Yuers, who recently became one of a select group of North Americans to be named a fellow of the American Concrete Institute, said that while the Obama comments focused attention on waterproofing products, product acceptance also increased with labour and skills shortages.
Contractors realized they could work faster and with less labor using such products.
“Finding skilled labor was getting tougher,” she said, adding that concrete structures that had to keep water in or out, required skilled labor to properly coat placement, joint seals and overlapping membranes.
Yuers said major contractors have found that their workload is reduced by using an additive for concrete basements, pools, water tanks, dams, and multi-storey buildings.
KIM replaces the need for an external membrane, protecting against moisture transmission, chemical attack and corrosion of reinforcing steel. It can be added to other enhancing agents in concrete as well, either in the mixing truck or at the plant.
Not only can companies backfill faster, but there is less of a concern regarding heavy equipment working near the concrete. Equipment can damage a membrane.
She said that lease and rental companies are also specifying waterproofing in the concrete on their buildings.
“Over the medium and long term, they are not seeing as many leaks and wet spots,” she said, since products like hers have the ability to self-seal hairline cracks, as crystals form to fill the void.
Currently, Lafarge, Rempel, Ocean, Cardinal, Burnco and other concrete plants are using the Kryton additives in pre-measured sacks for easy dosing, she said.
While Obama’s comments and the building boom popularized the trend, it is expected to continue in today’s market.
“When there is downward pressure on costs, companies are looking at ways to save money,” said Yuers.
Other trends seen by concrete companies in value added products are both structural and cosmetic.
Ocean Concrete’s Kyle Gilmour, manager of product development, said corrosive inhibitors are in greater demand today. They form a protective barrier around rebar or other metals to prevent damage, especially in parking slabs. Shrinkage-reducing admixes are also becoming more popular, he said.
While corrosion inhibitors were brought forward by changes in 2007 building standards, no-shrink additives are often specified by engineers.
Mayco Mix Ltd., a Vancouver Island concrete company, noted an upswing in liquid-color concrete becoming used today.