Inorganic surface treatments for concrete protection
Carbonated cement paste surfaces were characterised prior to application of surface treatments. Their chemical and physical properties varied with distance from the surface and method of carbonation. From the surface inwards the pH of expressed pore solutions and porosity were observed to increase. Hardness increased after natural carbonation, but decreased after accelerated carbonation. Generally, accelerated carbonation caused more extreme changes. Investigations were carried out on four concrete surface hardening treatments; two sodium silicates and two silicofluorides. These treatments penetrated and hardened the surface of naturally dried uncarbonated cement paste to a depth fo 250m. Silicofluorides reacted with uncarbonated and carbonated cement pastes to form calcium fluoride. The question of how sodium silicates harden the surface remains unanswered. Surface hardeners do not significantly affect the rate of carbonation, and are unsuitable for re-alkalising carbonated cement paste. Water repellent treatments studied include a silane, a siloxane and a silicone. The silane exhibited the maximum penetration, up to 24mm under favourable conditions, but penetration in all cases was limited by moisture in the substrate. Water repellent treatments slow down water vapour diffusion but, with time, internal moisture levels should reflect external relative humidities. Water repellents may be used to reduce carbonation-induced corrosion where ingress of moisture from intermittent wetting may be slowed. However, treatment with water repellents can temporarily push the carbonation front deeper into the concrete.