Slab Woes... Is There Hope for a Solution?

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Old 08-20-14, 03:17 AM
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Exclamation Slab Woes... Is There Hope for a Solution?

One year ago, my fiancé and I purchased a home and immediately began renovations. One of our last projects was to remove the floor joists from a 12x20 room addition that was built on a very low crawlspace (16” at the highest point) and install a 5" slab. I performed all of the prep work myself, including a layer of compacted crushed stone for the sub-base, a layer of small river stone for the base, 4” of rigid XPS for insulation, and 6 mil vapor barrier. The plan was to hire a contractor to pour and finish the slab into a smooth surface appropriate for decorative staining.

A few days ago, our contractor showed up for the much anticipated pour. The results were undesirable at best – deeply disturbing would better describe it, especially considering the amount of work my fiancé and I put into prepping the site. At the end of the day, we were left with a slab with spalling, discoloration, & rough patches and with areas of surface peeling so deep that the aggregate materials are visible.

I am writing today to ask for expert advice on what can be done to remediate this problem. Specifically, short of jackhammering and removing the slab, can it be resurfaced in some fashion to make it smooth and suitable to accept a decorative stain? Could I grind and polish or apply some sort of self-leveling product that will last over time? Perhaps pour a thinner topper slab to cover it? I realize that to answer these questions, more information is needed, so here are some facts about the day as well as some images of the problem:

FACTS:

-The problems were visible immediately after the pouring and finishing.
-Large areas (spots up to 6” in diameter) of the smooth surface layer are peeling away, exposing the rough aggregates beneath. There are some areas where peeling has not yet occurred, but you can tap on it and it has a loose sound like dry paper… a tap with the blunt end of a screwdriver and the surface of these areas will pop off, exposing the aggregate as described above.
-There is discoloration throughout, especially around the perimeter of the room, giving a picture frame effect. There is also a discolored area where the mechanical trowel was left sitting for a period of time, and outlines of all four trowel arms are clearly visible.
-There are raised areas where concrete was added to pitted areas – an obvious post-finishing attempt to smooth over problematic areas. These are not only raised but discolored and rough.
-Despite precise calculations on the amount of concrete needed, as well as a 10% addition to that estimate, the truck ran short of material near the end of the pour. A helper ran and purchased bagged concrete, 8 bags of which were used to finish the job. The contractor cited this as well as what he said appeared to be inconsistencies in the concrete viscosity at different stages of the pour as indications of a bad batch of concrete, which caused these problems. My research has led me to believe is more likely installer error, but I welcome any thoughts on this as well. The area where the bagged concrete was poured is actually one of the better looking areas of the slab!
-There are areas where it looks as if there was no troweling performed and other areas where trowel marks (ridges and gouges) are very conspicuous.

I would like to thank in advance anyone who can provide insight into not only what may have happened here but, more importantly, what can be done to give us a smooth finished surface at least somewhere close to what we were wanting and what we were promised. To do this slab, we worked very hard and used some of our very last funds that were set aside for renovations when we purchased the home. This has been so disappointing and inconvenient, and any advice would mean the world to us! (See images attached)


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Old 08-20-14, 03:58 AM
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where did you find this clown ? you didn't pay, of course, did you ? have you called the redi-mix co that supplied the conc ? somehow there's always a solution to repair stuff & we do find time to do it over even when there wasn't enough time to do it right the 1st time,,, don't ask me how i know that - i just know
 
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Old 08-20-14, 04:56 AM
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yes, supplier has been contacted and, no, not a dime!!!!! Thoughts on grinding vs. topping? Or are you just the comic relief ;-)
 
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Old 08-20-14, 06:45 AM
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CP,

Stadry is not our comic relief! He is probably as shocked as I am the a contractor would preform work that bad and want payment. The job is a disgrace to the concrete contractors of America! I agree that the work needs to be removed and a qualified contractor hired to do things correctly. When you look for a qualified contractor next time, ask for references and talk to the people that had work done by the new contractor.
 
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Old 08-20-14, 01:00 PM
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wiz, looks like it was finished w/a stone rake, no ? i'm w/wizzy - tear it out & find a qualified craftsmen,,, but you knew that already,,, polymer-modified conc overlays are amazing materials but not for your job,,, you're very kind to use ' undesireable at best ',,, i wouldda been reaching for a horsewhip
 
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Old 08-20-14, 02:37 PM
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That's certainly the worst concrete job I think I've ever seen! A couple of five-year-olds could've done better with no instruction. I can't believe the contractor who did this could even consider calling himself a concrete professional. As mentioned by the earlier posters there is no way to save this, it needs to be torn out and replaced by someone who really knows what he's doing. Sorry you had such a bad experience but at least you haven't paid him for this mess.
 
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Old 08-20-14, 09:45 PM
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minority opinion

C'mon... where is that one ray of light? That renegade lookin' for a fight... with the perfect remedy that doesn't require a jackhammer?!

I'm (half) kidding. Thanks, all, for confirming what I suspected. You guys are great. I especially enjoyed the "really cool" trowel marks! One last thought, however:

The worst areas, those images with the significant spalling, are right on or adjacent to the boundary between the poured product and the bagged product that was used when the truck ran dry. Could it be that the excess bleed water from the bagged mix, which did in fact pool up after the poured mix had started to set, caused this spalling? And wouldn't this mean that the poor surface bonding is isolated to those couple problematic spots? And if both of those things are true, couldn't the other areas of substandard trowelling (but otherwise stable) be ground to flatten them out? Then, with some extra aggressive work on the spalling (I am big, strong, aggravated and tenacious), and an overall polishing pass, and voila!... Or better yet, leave the rough trowelled areas for an overlay to bond to? Or am I completely living a dream?

I know that the ideal situation is a total redo, but circumstances are such that we wouldn't be able to do it for some time, and we simply MUST have this room done before fall. Stadry (or others), what exactly precludes me as a candidate for a polymer overlay? Please educate me, if you would be so kind.

Also, an interesting side note, the manager at my supplier, Meuth, was a super butthole at the mere suggestion of viewing the batch ticket. I calmly and politely explained my situation and that there had, in fact, been three volume measurements by three different people, all coming up with a number under 4 yards. The truck was supposed to be carrying 4.5 yards (and was 4 hours late). In addition, with mine own eyes, I saw dramatic increase in water volume as the pour progressed. In hindsight, I suspect the driver anticipated a shortage. I knew it was going to be bad when the manager started with, "I tell ya what..." (insert cocky KY accent). He continued with this juvenile tactic of, "We'll come out there and test that concrete. The test costs $2,500. If the concrete is bad, we'll replace it all at no cost. If it's good, you can cover the cost of the test." To which I replied, "I have a better idea: How about we meet out here, I take a look at the batch ticket just to cover all my bases, and we talk about what I can do to get my slab fixed like adults." Novel idea, I know.
 
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Old 08-21-14, 03:43 AM
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the batch plant was probably the contractor's [ dislike using that word for your guy ] ( kin - cousin, bro-in-law, uncle, etc ),,, have heard there's lots of inter-family relations up in ky,,, but to your point - there's no excuse for this work by either plant, driver, OR the jerk that placed it,,, drivers generally do NOT add water UNLESS customer specifically rqsts it,,, + water added onsite will be written on the ticket IF your guys play by the rules,,, testing this conc can be done w/even failing eyes,,, in other words, it may not be sub-standard conc in view of its compressive strength,,, from other views, you, or anyone else, want to close both eyes good luck !

have you considered small claims court for the cost of removal & new batch of conc ? then again, the judge may also be kin
 
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Old 08-22-14, 06:58 AM
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You should have gotten a batch ticket when the concrete was delivered. It is the responsibility of the contractor to supply the client with a batch ticket. There are so many thing wrong with the looks of the concrete that it is hard to say what caused the problem without looking at the ticket. One thing i would look for is the time the concrete was batched and the time it arrived on the site. If the load was short, the driver may have stopped along the way for an "extra favor". He then could have added water to make it look like there was a full load. Also the contractor should have called for the concrete to be delivered at a certain slump. This also should have been on the batch ticket. No way should have the concrete gotten wetter during the pour!
 
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Old 08-22-14, 07:50 AM
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'cept the driveway's owner isn't the plant's customer,,, the owner doesn't sign the ticket or, often, even see it,,, its the property of the plant til ownership passes to their customer - the contractor OR whoever order the mud,,, we routinely give a copy to customers - GADOT ALWAYS gets a copy
 
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Old 08-22-14, 08:16 AM
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Stadry,

That is probably the case most of the time. Working as an inspector, the first thing I did was gather the tickets and review the time the concrete was batched ( most important to me), the mix and the slump when batched. I gave a copy to the client and the contractor took the rest. I signed the clients copy with the time of my tests and if the contractor or the driver added water and how much was added. I also noted if any additives were added at the site and how much (mostly plastizers). Even though I was not an engineer I also inspected rebar. I could do that for the number of years working at the County as a design tech. I could also read plans better than some of the contractors!
 
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Old 08-22-14, 04:59 PM
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Unfortunately, any possible repair to the slab will probably cost more than removing it and reinstalling it correctly. It will have to be ground down to remove the high spots and defective service material to start with. Then some sort of polymer modified concrete with a high binding strength will have to be hand troweled on with extreme caution to make sure it's level. The materials and labor for both of these steps are quite expensive and the grinding process will generate an awful lot of dust. Even then the final job will not be as good nor last as long as redoing it properly. I know you said you needed it done this fall but a competent contractor should be able to remove what they are and pour the new floor correctly in a week or less!
 
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Old 08-24-14, 07:59 AM
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wet grinding has no dust but what will be revealed under the surface ? i'd scrap any idea of repair & opt for replacement by a competent contractor not my house, tho
 
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