How to Cure Concrete Cancer!

You’d be hard-pressed to find a building in modern Australia that did not incorporate concrete in some form. It’s the most commonly used material in use today and can be found around every corner in both commercial and private properties.

However, concrete isn’t the ‘lay and walk-away’ option it was originally thought to be. It’s prone to cancer, which in recent years has become an epidemic among high-rise buildings within coastal regions, such as Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Concrete Repair BRS gold coast brisbane tweed concrete cancer commercial

Concrete cancer can be a drain on a body-corporate facing major repairs, if left unattended. However BRS Building Rectification Services has the solutions.

Here’s what you need to know:

Four tell-tale signs of concrete cancer:

  • Cracking, splitting or crumbling concrete.
  • Rust stains that seem to come out from the concrete.
  • The paint appears to be dropping down or bubbling from the soffits.
  • Raised section of tiling or walkway coatings.

Concrete cancer or concrete spalling is the effect of steel reinforcements within a concrete slab rusting, which in turn causes the steel to expand up to 5 times its normal size and effectively destroys the concrete from the inside out, causing it to split and breakaway.

Concrete Repair pool

What causes concrete damage?

  • As the Gold coast has one of the highs salt air content in the world, it’s this high salt content that accelerates the corrosion of the steel reinforcement.
  • Insufficient or deteriorated paint coatings. A good paint/waterproofing coating will slow the cancer process greatly.
  • Fractures (cracking) to the concrete allowing water and salt to penetrate the concrete and react with the steel.
  • The original placement of reinforcing/bar chairs being too close to the surface (usually less than 50mm) allowing water to seep through concrete and react with the steel.
  • Incompatible metals being used in close proximity to each other, thus causing a corrosion reaction.

According to Griffith University Head of Architecture, Professor Gordon Holden, the effects of concrete cancer are particularly prevalent in older buildings due to inadequate building techniques often employed in the 1970s and 80s, resulting in an average lifespan of about 40 years.

What makes the concrete cancer epidemic even more alarming is that it as an internal issue, it is not always visible to the untrained eye. This is why it is imperative that building owners incorporate concrete cancer checks carried out by professionals into their annual maintenance reviews, in order to catch it early and avoid costly repairs, complete demolition, and hazardous living conditions caused by cracking and crumbling concrete.

Concrete Repair BRS gold coast brisbane tweed concrete cancer commercial

So, what is the cure?

Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure, there is only preventative maintenance.

Using a High-quality waterproofing decretive coating will keep water seepage to a minimum, as they are more resistant to tears and punctures, they have longer lifespans and are more weather resistant. By preventing water from infecting your concrete, we can greatly slow the effects of concrete cancer in its tracks. If you have no waterproofing coverage, or inadequate waterproofing coatings, your structure will be more susceptible to concrete cancer. Any area that moisture is getting in needs to be fixed before it has a chance to infect the concrete, including any cracks blister bubbles etc.

Despite waterproofing being the best method of prevention, BRS understand that sometimes the damage is already done, and offer full concrete cancer repairs for both structural and cosmetic concrete.

You can find out more about our methods of repair here.

For more information on how BRS Building Rectification Services can help you with Concrete Cancer or any other services, please call BRS Building Rectification Services (07) 5539 3588 or email 

Click the button below to download our Concrete Repair brochure.