Sunday, August 30th, 2020 by CJ Garcia
Your driveway, sidewalk, patio, and front porch provide an important first impression to guests and potential buyers. If your concrete has unsightly and potentially hazardous cracks, your home’s value will suffer. The easiest way to return your property’s ‘curb appeal’ is to level out those uneven surfaces and return your concrete to its original state. Mudjacking is the old-school solution for raising sunken concrete that you might have grown up hearing about from your parents (or grandparents). At TerraFirma, we level your concrete with modern techniques and materials, like polyurethane foam.
Before we talk about concrete lifting and leveling, let’s take a few moments to understand why concrete slabs sink in the first place. Concrete is strong, durable stuff, but it’s only as stable as the soil beneath it. Over time, soil can compact or even wash away due to factors including rain, drought, or poorly compacted backfill soil from before the concrete was originally poured.
When the soil beneath your concrete compacts or washes out, it leaves voids into which a heavy concrete slab will sink. These voids need to be filled to raise the sunken slabs back to level and provide ongoing support. It’s at this point that homeowners are faced with the choice of which method to use to fix the issue: Mudjacking or polyurethane foam injection.
At first glance, mudjacking seems like a common-sense approach. After all, if the soil has compacted or washed away underneath your concrete, doesn’t it make sense to simply replace that soil (or more accurately, a soil-like slurry of mud and/or cement) — under your slabs to replace it? It’s not a bad idea in theory, but in practice, it has several drawbacks.
The first drawback is right in the name: mud. Mud is dirty. And Mudjacking is a dirty business.
In addition to being dirty, mud is, by definition, wet because it contains a lot of water. It’s what allows mudjacking contractors to pump it under your concrete slabs. But, just as with regular mud, when it dries, it shrinks as space once occupied by water becomes empty. This means that your slabs could sink back down again, sending you right back to square one. But that’s not all. What happens to dried dirt when it gets wet again? It turns right back into the mud. Unless your concrete’s joints and cracks are perfectly sealed, water can run underneath, turning that dry material right back to mud that can wash out, once again leaving you with voids into which your concrete can settle.
And, mudjacking slurry is messy when it shoots out from beneath the slab under pressure. Will you trust your contractor to clean up all the spattered mud when they’re done? Many don’t.
The second main drawback is how mudjacked concrete looks. To pump the Mudjacking slurry underneath your concrete, the contractor will have to drill a series of large ports into your slabs. These need to be wide enough — at least 2” in diameter in most cases — so they don’t restrict the flow of the material. When the job is done, these ports are filled in. It is virtually impossible to match this fill material with your original concrete. So, you end up with a driveway or patio with strange polka-dots. Improving your home’s appearance was one of the reasons you decided to repair your concrete in the first place, right?
The main problem with Mudjacking is that it doesn’t address the reason your concrete settled in the first place – Poorly compacted soil compressing, causes heavy concrete slabs to sink. What happens when thousands of pounds of Mudjacking slurry is pumped underneath already heavy concrete slabs? You’ve just compounded the problem by adding more weight on top of unstable soil. This can cause your driveway, patio or pool deck to sink even more!
As you might guess, we think there’s a better way to lift and level your sunken concrete slabs.
At TerraFirma, we have a lot of experience with concrete lifting and leveling. For all the reasons listed above, we just knew there had to be a better way. It turns out there is, and the answer isn’t mud, it’s foam. Polyurethane foam, to be exact. You may have heard it referred to as polyjacking or foam jacking, or polyurethane concrete lifting.
Polyurethane is a lightweight, strong, high-density foam. It’s pumped beneath concrete slabs through tiny ports about the size of a penny. Initially, polyurethane flows like water, filling even the smallest cracks and crevices in the soil. It quickly expands and hardens, lifting the concrete slabs above it and compressing the soil around it at the same time. polyurethane is waterproof, so it will never wash out, and it won’t degrade over time due to temperature extremes. Best of all, polyurethane cures quickly, allowing your concrete to be used the same day.
Concrete lifting with polyurethane expanding foam not only raises concrete slabs but also compacts the soil around it, creating a stable environment that will ensure that your driveway, patio, or pool deck remains level into the foreseeable future. It is environmentally friendly because it doesn’t degrade over time or leach harmful chemicals into the surrounding soils.
The bottom line is, when you consider Mudjacking vs. polyurethane, there is no comparison — even when it comes to price. Mudjacking your concrete slabs once may cost less initially but can cause your concrete to sink and settle again over time, meaning you will likely have to pay repeatedly to re-lift it. Financially, and for your peace-of-mind, it pays to have it done once and never have to think about it again.
Mudjacking is messy, rough-looking, and may actually make the problem worse. Concrete lifting with polyurethane foam is clean, looks great, and addresses the underlying issues that caused your concrete to sink in the first place.
If you have any questions about how polyurethane foam can work for your concrete woes, then schedule a free evaluation with TerraFirma!