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Properties and specifications for

epoxies used in concrete repair

Standard tests aid in picking the right product


(ASTM C 881)

Type I Type II Type II

Viscosity, p
Grade 1, maximum 20 20 20
Grade 2, minimum 20 20 20
maximum 100 100 100
Consistency, inch
Grade 3, maximum 1/4 1/4 1/4
E poxies are frequently used as re-
pair materials because they bond
well to almost all materials, cure
Gel time, minutes, minimum
Bond strength, psi
30 30 30

rapidly, attain high strengths and ex- 2 days (dry cure) 2000 — 300
hibit good chemical resistance. Ap- 14 days (moist cure) 2000 1500 300
plications include use in bonding Volatile content, cured system,
concrete (hardened to hardened, and maximum, percent 3 3 —
hardened to fresh), and in patches, Absorption, 24 hours,
overlays and protective coatings. maximum, percent 1.5 1.5 1.5
Epoxy compounds consist of a Shrinkage passes test passes test passes test
resin, a curing agent or hardener and
Thermal compatibility — — passes test
modifiers that make them suitable for
specific end uses. Modifiers include
accelerators that make the rate of
modulus but one that is unchanged at lower tempera-
cure depend less on temperature, diluents that reduce
viscosity and make mixing easier or improve workabili-
Epoxy resins have a coefficient of thermal expansion
ty, and fillers that reduce cost and improve such proper-
that is 5 to 8 times as high as that of concrete. Fillers re-
ties as thermal expansion. Epoxy mortars employed in
duce this difference substantially but don’t eliminate it.
overlays and patches contain aggregates to reduce the
Epoxies have excellent resistance to chemical attack
maximum polymerization temperature, decrease
from chloride deicing salts, sulfates, alkalies, sugar solu-
shrinkage, lower the cost and reduce the coefficient of
tions and gasoline or oil. They have good resistance to
thermal expansion.
dilute food acids but must be compounded for the spe-
Chemical and physical characteristics cific exposure conditions. Epoxy sealers are also very ef-
fective in reducing the absorption of deicing salt solu-
Epoxies are high in both tensile and compressive
tions by concrete.
strength and they shrink very little during curing. They
Formulations can be compounded to provide resis-
can be in liquid form yet contain no volatile solvent and
tance to severe abrasion, electrical conductivity or other
no by-products are generated during curing.
special properties dictated by the end use.
Typical tensile strengths of epoxy compounds range
from 500 to 5000 psi and compressive strengths from 500 Specification helps user choose the product
to 12,000 psi. Typical ranges for modulus of elasticity at
Because the epoxy formulator can combine different
73° F are from 480,000 to 2,100,000 psi in tension and
resins, hardeners and modifiers to produce an almost in-
from 660,000 to 1,000,000 psi in compression. The mod-
finite variety of end products, users and specifiers may
ulus of elasticity for some epoxy systems increases sub-
be a bit bewildered by the options available to them. To
stantially at lower temperatures, but some newly devel-
assist specifiers, the American Society for Testing and
oped products reportedly exhibit not only a low
Materials (ASTM) published a standard specification in
The classes are distinguished by the test temperature at
which the gel times are determined (gel time is the in-
terval between the beginning of mixing an epoxy sys-
tem and the first formation of a gelatinous mass within
the system). Class A systems are for use below 40 degrees
F, Class B between 40 and 60° F and Class C above 60 de-
grees F. The materials are not, howe ve r, restricted to use
at the temperature designated for each class. If an un-
usual rate of curing is wanted it is possible to use a bond-
ing agent at a temperature other than the one for which
it is normally intended. For example, a Class A material
could be used at a temperature of 90° F if an extremely
short pot life were needed.

Tests measure important performance properties

Physical requirements of epoxy resin bonding systems
are shown in the table. Three tests are of particular in-
terest to the user because they relate to the important
p ro p e rties of bond strength, shrinkage and thermal
compatibility. In the test for bond strength of epoxy resin
systems used with concrete, ASTM C 882, a cylinder
comprised of two sections of concrete glued together
on a 60 degree angle is tested in compression, Figure 1.
Bond strengths for either hardened-to-hardened or
fresh-to-hardened concrete are measured. Systems that
are adversely affected by bleed water from plastic con-
Figure 1. Determining bond strength of epoxies. The epoxy
bonds together two equal sections of a concrete cylinder crete or systems that exhibit poor bond to hardened
and the compressive strength of the composite is then concrete will be eliminated by the bond strength provi-
determined. The method covers bonding of hardened sions in the table.
concrete to hardened or freshly mixed concrete. ASTM C 883, Effective Shrinkage of Epoxy Resin Sys-
tems Used with Concrete, measures another important
characteristic of epoxy resin systems—that of shrinkage
during curing. A l⁄8-inch-thick layer of the epoxy resin
1978. This document, ASTM C 881-78, Epoxy-resin-base system to be tested is cast on a glass plate and, after a
Bonding Systems for Concrete, is a performance specifi- specified aging period, the specimen is cycled for 30
cation based on end use. This means that there are no minutes between 73° F and 124.9° F. If the resin system
specific limits on items such as chemical composition. shrinks, it will fracture the glass plate, Figure 2. This test
Instead the material must meet requirements related to method eliminates systems containing solvents, exces-
physical properties such as viscosity, bond strength, sive quantities of diluents or other chemicals that will in-
shrinkage and thermal compatibility.
The specification provides for the classification of
e p ox y- resin bonding systems by type, grade and class.
The type is determined by end use. Type I systems are for
bonding hardened concrete and other materials to hard-
ened concrete, Type II for bonding freshly mixed con-
crete to hardened concrete, and Type III for bonding
skid-resistant materials to hardened concrete or as a
binder in epoxy mortars or concretes.
The grade of a system is defined on the basis of flow
characteristics. Grade 1 materials are low viscosity (thin)
epoxies suitable for crack injection and other uses where
flow is required. Grade 2 includes medium viscosity ma-
terials for general purpose use, and Grade 3 materials are
of a nonsagging consistency for overhead work or for Figure 2. Shrinkage during curing is measured by casting a
bonding nonmating surfaces. layer of epoxy on a glass plate, aging it and then cycling it
The three classes of systems are defined according to through a number of temperature changes. If the epoxy
the range of temperatures for which they are suitable. shrinks it will fracture the glass plate, as seen in the middle
Copies of the Standard Specification for Ep ox y-
resin-base Bonding Systems for Co n c re t e, ASTM C
881-78, and of the test methods referenced in the
specification are available from the American Society
for Testing and Materials, 1916 Race Street, Philadel-
phia, Pennsylvania 19103.
The American Concrete Institute’s Committee 503,
Adhesives for Concrete, has also published specifica-
tions for the use of the ASTM epoxy resin systems.
These are ACI 503.1, Standard Specification for Bond-
ing Hardened Concrete, Steel, Wood, Brick and Other
Materials to Hardened Concrete with a Multi-compo-
nent Epoxy Adhesive; ACI 503.3, Standard Specifica-
tion for Producing A Skid-resistant Surface on Con-
crete by the Use of a Multi-component Epoxy System;
and ACI 503.4, Standard Specification for Re p a i ri n g
Figure 3. To measure thermal compatibility between Concrete with Epoxy Mo rt a r s. The specifications are
concrete and epoxy resin overlays, an epoxy resin mortar is reference standards which the architect or engineer
placed on a block of concrete. After curing, the specimen is may cite in the project specifications for any building
cycled between 77 and minus 6 degrees F. Thermal project, together with supplementary requirements
incompatibility results in delamination as seen in the for the specific project. A specification guide and
specimen at the left. checklist are included to assist the specifiers in prop-
erly choosing and specifying the necessary supple-
mentary re q u i re m e n t s. All of these documents are
duce shrinkage. This is an important characteristic be- available from the American Concrete Institute, Box
cause shrinkage may apply stress to the concrete and 19150, Detroit, Michigan 48219
cause failure at the bond line or within the concrete.
As mentioned previously, epoxy systems have a coeffi-
cient of thermal expansion higher than that of concrete. out materials that are likely to perform unsatisfactorily
If the system also has a high modulus of elasticity, a in service. Howe ve r, in making a final choice among sim-
patch or overlay may delaminate as a result of changes ilar epoxy resin systems, it is possible that additional
in temperature. The test to measure this tendency is properties not addressed in the specification may have
ASTM C 884, Thermal Compatibility Between Concrete to be taken into account. These include abrasion resis-
and Epoxy Resin Overlay. An epoxy resin mortar is ap- tance, impact properties and resistance to various forms
plied 1⁄2-inch thick to a 12x12x3-inch concrete block, Fig- of chemical attack.
ure 3. After proper curing, the specimens are cycled be-
tween 77° F and minus 6° F. Any thermal incompatibility Editor’s note:
will cause delamination of the epoxy resin mortar. Ex- This article was based in part on information from the Protex
perience has shown that epoxy resin systems which pass Technical Bulletin, “. . . On ACI, ASTM Standards for Epoxy
this test will perform successfully even when exposed to Resins for Maintenance,” January 1981. Raymond J. Schutz
was the author of the bulletin.
severe temperature changes.

Specification can be used as a screening device

To meet type, grade and class requirements, the for-
mulator varies composition and uses trade-offs in prop- PUBLICATION #C840873
erties to achieve the best performance combination. The Copyright © 1984, The Aberdeen Group
ASTM C 881 specification is a good device for screening All rights reserved