By Bryan Hay

With such a rich cement history in the Lehigh Valley, it’s not surprising that many homeowners choose to tackle their own small concrete projects (e.g. curbs, retaining walls, driveway repairs, ramps, sidewalk repairs, drainage slopes, foundation repairs).

While it’s tempting to grab the cheapest bag of “general use concrete mix” at the local home improvement store, plan instead to grab a bag that is an “air-entrained” mix for your outdoor projects/repairs, advises Dave Mante, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering.

“Air-entrained mixtures contain a special additive—soap! —that introduces a deliberate series of voids in the cured concrete to make it robust against freeze/thaw damage,” says Mante, whose research interests include reinforced concrete behavior and design, prestressed concrete behavior and design, and concrete sensor development.

“Choosing not to use air-entrained concrete for outdoor projects means choosing to redo them again in the next few years,” he adds.

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