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Concrete Casting News from the Hill and Griffith Company

Review: "Guide for Surface Finish of Formed Concrete"

Posted by Hill and Griffith Company on Dec 6, 2018 1:05:46 PM

(This week's post is a review of the American Society of Concrete Construction's "Guide for Surface Finish of Formed Concrete." You can read it at Google Books here.)

Amazon Book's summary (April 1, 1999), "Exactly what is a smooth-form finish? What is a rough-form finish? To what extent are bugholes, voids and fins acceptable in each type? This easy-to-use guide explains and illustrates the answers to these questions and, even more importantly, serves as the standard for the differences between as-cast structural concrete finishes. The succinct, yet thorough, text includes a glossary and a handy table on as-cast finishes. But the guide's Presentation Photos are what make it truly unique. Three sets of 6 different, full-scale photographs depict various as-cast finishes, with bugholes and voids ranging from 1/16" or less to 2" across. Attach a Presentation Photo to a bid or specification to show what surface finish is to be expected."

Surface Finish of Formed Concrete.jpg 


(Jan 1, 2005 edition from Google Books)

Form Release Agents

Release agents are differentiated from form coatings or sealers that are usually applied in liquid form to contact surfaces either during manufacture or in the field. Coatings and sealers serve one or more of the following purposes:

  • Alter the texture of the contact surface 
  • Improve the durability of the contact surface
  • protect the contact surface from moisture

Release agents, on the other hand, are applied to the contact surface of the forms to prevent bond to the concrete and thus facilitate stripping. They can be applied to form materials during manufacture or applied to the form before each use. Manufacturers' recommendations should be followed in the use of coatings, sealers, and release agents (Reference 10-11), but ACI 347 recommends independent investigation of performance before using a new product.

There is no ACI standard to define these products, but the term form oil is frequently applied to petroleum compounds originally intended for other applications such as diesel fuel or heating oil, while release agent more often refers to products containing proprietary reactive ingredients specifically formulated for use on concrete forms. Release agents are commonly classified on the basis of how they act instead of what is in them. The two basic categories are barrier agents and chemically active agents, sometimes called reactive agents. Some release agents are a combination of the two types.

Barrier type releases agents create a physical barrier between the form surface and the fresh concrete, preventing the concrete from sticking to the form. Familiar examples are home heating oil, diesel oil, and used motor oil. U.S. environmental regulations prohibit the sale of these commodities as release agents, but they have been widely used because they are inexpensive and readily available. They are applied in relatively thick films, covering 200 to 600 sq ft per gallon, and such heavy applications can increase surface staining and bugholes on the concrete surface. If coated forms are left for several days before concrete is placed, barrier oils may evaporate, possibly leading to some sticking of the concrete to the form.

Chemically active or reactive agents contain an active ingredient that may be dissolver in an oil-based carrier or emulsified in a water-based carrier. The active ingredient is typically some type of fatty acid derived from plant or animal sources, and it combines chemically with calcium ions in the fresh concrete. The reaction product is a thin layer of what chemists refer to as a grease or metallic soap or salt; non-water-soluble, it permits the form to release readily from the hardened concrete.

The reactive fatty acid components are generally considered biodegradable and have found favor in the past decade because of increasingly stringent environmental regulations. For similar reasons, manufacturers have also been turning to water-based carriers, which will probably be subject to freezing.


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