Many people wonder what the is difference between concrete and shotcrete. Shotcrete is a method of concrete placement rather than a material. Essentially, dry-mix shotcrete is a highly efficient and cost-effective way to apply concrete or mortar to a new or existing structure. When properly applied by a professional, it is a sound and durable option for a variety of projects. Shotcrete has the same composition as concrete, but at a much lower water-cement ratio. Its high compressive strength, low absorption, low permeability, and resistance to weathering or chemicals make dry-mix shotcrete comparable, perhaps even superior, to conventional concrete applications. Another advantage of opting for shotcrete on a project is the economical benefits, as it is a cost efficient and labor-saving process. By using this method, the need for cranes, pumps, and forms can be reduced or even eliminated; therefore, it is able to be applied at a much faster rate than conventional concrete placement or repair methods.
Here are three major types projects where we see shotcrete being used in our communities:
1. Architectural Restoration A city’s history can be told by its venerable buildings that stand today. Over time, even the best built buildings can succumb to time and wear. Living in New England where there are historic churches, monuments, landmarks, brick smokestacks, schools, office buildings and practically any structure that was constructed with brick or stone may at some point or another benefit from shotcrete technology. When one of these building is worth saving, it can typically be an extremely expensive restoration. Repairing the skillful art of masonry work can be difficult to achieve, but carrying out alterations with a process like shotcrete can restore a building to something close to its original form.
2. Ground Support and Underground Structures Using shotcrete to stabilize soil for excavation has advantages over traditional timber and steel shoring techniques, which makes it an ideal method for ground support in tunneling and mining. It can be used as a final or permanent lining for underground structures as it provides foundational support after blasting or excavating. This allows a flexibility for ground stabilization and stress relief. In our town and city structures, this is the preferred method when constructing for tunnels, underground stations, sewers, and side drifts as it provides long-term stability.
3. Pool and Recreational Surprisingly, shotcrete is a quality and efficient method used for recreational structures. Many of our community or public spaces feature shotcrete as a primary material. Dry-mix shotcrete can be successfully applied on virtually any surface: flat or curved, vertical or sloped, even overhead. This material is especially suited for inground pools and skate parks that characteristically contain many curves. The flexibility of the material’s placement on the excavated soil allows every pool owner to have a uniquely shaped pool, that is not only watertight, durable, and economical, but uniquely attractive as well. Similarly, skatepark construction includes the specialty shotcrete process to build transitional, banked, vertical and even over-vertical skatepark features to make a safe and functional space for activities.
This method offers all of the sustainability benefits of concrete as a building and construction material, in addition to the long list of advantages that are unique to the placement of the shotcrete process. The numerous advantages of using the shotcrete method in our communities are especially evident when viewed from these sustainable and economical viewpoints.