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The Pros & Cons of Lifting Concrete

By Sarah Etler - 10/4/22, 6:11 AM

Learn about the good, the bad, and the ugly of concrete leveling, and find out which method is best for your sinking concrete.

Considering lifting your settling concrete? With so many concrete repair methods out there, it's essential to consider the pros and cons of each and decide what the best option is for your particular problem. 

A-1 Concrete Leveling specializes in its own proprietary limestone slurry concrete leveling compound and performs foam leveling repairs when needed, but we want you to walk away with all the information you need to make an informed decision, and that’s why we’re providing the facts on all methods of professional concrete leveling.

This article will explore the pros and cons of concrete leveling in general, then break down the pros and cons of traditional mudjacking, foam leveling, and the limestone slurry method.

Concrete Leveling Pros & Cons

The table below shows an overview of the pros & cons of concrete leveling, and the sections that follow discuss them in detail.

Pros Cons
  • Extremely cost-effective
  • Breaks don’t go away completely
  • Quick turnaround time
  • Can’t always predict the outcome
  • Convenience
  • Only as good as the ground it's on
  • Matching slabs
 

The Pros of Concrete Leveling

Here are the top four advantages of all types of concrete leveling:

  • Extremely cost-effective

One of the most notable benefits of concrete leveling is its price compared to replacement. As long as your concrete slab isn’t crumbling, it can likely be recovered with concrete leveling for far less than it would cost to replace the slab.

On average, concrete leveling can save you up to 70% of the cost of replacement.

  • Quick turnaround time

Most of the time concrete leveling crews are in and out in less than a day. Instead of spending weeks demoing, clearing, and waiting for your concrete to cure, you can use your freshly-leveled concrete in a matter of hours.

  • Convenience

It’s fairly easy to find a trustworthy and experienced concrete leveling company in your area that can come to give you an estimate and have your work completed quickly and without any hassle. A-1 Concrete Leveling has franchises in over 50 metropolitan areas!

It’s much more convenient to have a truck in the driveway once for a short time during the repair, rather than waiting days or weeks for replacement.

  • Matching slabs

Other repair methods, like concrete replacement, make it almost impossible to match new materials to the surrounding concrete slabs, leaving you with noticeable differences. Concrete leveling, however, will keep your original slabs the same, so all existing concrete will match.

The Cons of Concrete Leveling

Here are the top three disadvantages of concrete leveling:

  • Breaks don’t go away completely

Because concrete leveling doesn’t actually change the existing concrete, only its position, the cracks and breaks that have already formed will not go away. Sometimes the breaks will get smaller or larger depending on the circumstances of the repair.

Fortunately, these cracks can be filled with a polymer caulk in order to prevent further damage from freeze-thaw cycles.

  • Can’t always predict the outcome

While it would be nice to know how every repair will turn out, the truth is that a good concrete leveling job has to take into account a lot of variables, and some of them are unknown until the repair begins.  

The good news is that the right concrete leveling company will be experienced and know how to roll with hidden obstacles. 

  • Only as good as the ground it's on

Much like concrete replacement, concrete leveling depends on the quality of the material under the slab to ensure a durable repair. If the ground under a leveling job isn’t strong, over time, problems can arise or settling can reoccur.

This is why having a trustworthy and knowledgeable concrete leveling team is important. While no job has a 100% guarantee of perfection, a more experienced crew knows what to watch out for.

Traditional Mudjacking vs. Foam Leveling vs. Limestone Slurry

While all aim to accomplish the same goal, these three concrete leveling methods have different advantages and disadvantages. Here are the pros and cons of each main method of professional concrete leveling.

Traditional Mudjacking

Pros Cons
  • Concrete leveling “brand name”
  • Highly pressurized
  • Can be durable when done correctly
  • Hard to control
  • Can lift heavier slabs
  • Larger drill holes

 

Pros of Traditional Mudjacking

 
  • Concrete leveling “brand name”
    Concrete leveling has been around for decades, and its earliest form was mudjacking. As concrete leveling has evolved, mudjacking has dominated the industry as a sort of “brand name” that people recognize and trust, although it has its drawbacks.

    As concrete leveling became more popular, mudjacking variations and improvements began to emerge, as in the case of the A-1 Concrete Leveling limestone slurry process.

  • Can be durable when done correctly
    Mudjacking has the potential to fill the voids underneath a slab of concrete entirely, creating a strong, long-lasting lift. However, spreading the material evenly is hard to achieve with mudjacking, as it is highly-pressurized and hard to control.

  • Can lift heavier slabs
    Mudjacking can lift heavier objects when compared to foam leveling. Because there is no chemical reaction taking place in order to lift the slab, the lifting compound can, in theory, spread and put constant pressure across the base and level the heavy concrete. 

Cons of Traditional Mudjacking

 
  • Highly pressurized
    Traditional mudjacking pumps the concrete leveling compound at a much higher pressure and speed, which can prevent the material from flowing evenly throughout the void under a concrete slab. This can create piles of material and produce weak spots prone to cracking in the slab where there is no material supporting underneath and less compressive strength overall.

  • Hard to control
    Because traditional mudjacking is highly pressurized, it’s harder to tackle complex jobs. As the flow of material is faster and stronger, the crewmembers can overdo the concrete lift with the lack of control, causing more time and repair needed to complete the job.

  • Larger drill holes
    When compared to limestone slurry and foam leveling, the holes needed to perform a traditional mudjacking job are far bigger and hard to conceal. To account for the high speed and pressure of mudjacking, the holes have to be drilled around 2 inches, rather than around ⅝ inches for foam or 1" for limestone slurry.

Foam Leveling

Pros Cons
  • Accessibility
  • Cost
  • Portable units
  • Doesn’t fill voids
  • Faster injection
  • Less control
  • Smaller holes
  • Accidents
 
  • Melting 

 

Pros of Foam Leveling

 
  • Accessibility
    Foam leveling lifts concrete by injecting a liquid chemical underneath the slab. This liquid creates a chemical reaction underneath the surface which expands to lift the concrete. When transported, these chemicals have a small footprint, making it easier to carry more material for high-volume jobs, which could reduce repair time.

  • Portable units
    Because of the small footprint of foam leveling material, there are times when it can be transported easily with portable units. Some spaces are inaccessible by limestone slurry leveling or traditional mudjacking hoses, but portable foam leveling units can be taken almost anywhere. 

    While this is true, not all foam leveling is done with portable units. Most foam leveling is done with a hose connected to a truck or trailer, as with traditional mudjacking and the limestone slurry system.

  • Faster injection
    To lift concrete with foam leveling, concrete leveling technicians can inject the chemical solution into the void at a fast rate, as the reaction happens in the void, causing the foam to expand and lift the slab. Depending on the specific mixture of chemicals, this faster injection method can allow for a faster repair overall.  

  • Smaller holes
    The drill hole sizes of foam leveling are smaller than both traditional mudjacking and the ControlLevel system. This is beneficial for areas where a larger or more visible patched hole would be a nuisance. 

Cons of Foam Leveling

 
  • Cost
    Out of the three concrete leveling options in this comparison, foam leveling is the most expensive. Foam leveling uses synthetic materials and chemicals, which cost more than the natural alternatives. For larger jobs, this higher material cost is a big roadblock.

  • Doesn't fill voids
    Due to the nature of foam, it’s very hard to fill the crevices and space under a sunken concrete slab. What happens is “pancaking,” which is when foam spreads out in a small area, not filling the void, and technicians add layers to the stack until the slab is lifted.

    This “pancaking” effect creates weak points where the individual “pancake stacks,” or pillars, hold up an entire slab of concrete, which has a higher chance of cracking where the base is unsupported.

  • Less control
    When technicians stop injecting the foam leveling solution, the lift doesn’t stop. The chemical reaction that takes place after the material is in the void continues to lift, making it easier to overdo the repair when not done correctly by an experienced professional.

  • Accidents
    Unfortunately, accidents can occur with foam leveling. While rare, sometimes lifting heavy concrete slabs with foam leveling’s chemical reaction causes a lot of built-up pressure, which can explode and be very dangerous for the leveling crew and the nearby surroundings.

  • Melting
    Because of the nature of foam leveling’s chemical reaction, it produces a lot of heat. This heat can actually cause the foam to melt itself, which damages the compressive strength and overall durability of the slab and repair.

Limestone Slurry Concrete Leveling

Pros Cons
  • Stronger
  • Larger drill holes than foam leveling
  • Can handle more complex jobs
  • More expensive than mudjacking
  • Locally-sourced materials
 
  • Environmentally friendly
 

 

Pros of Limestone Slurry Leveling

 
  • Stronger
    The limestone slurry compound uses natural limestone, which sets up like concrete and is stronger than both traditional mudjacking and foam leveling. This creates higher compressive strength and allows it to withstand heavier downward pressure, like from heavy vehicle traffic, large porches, and weight-bearing posts.

    The limestone slurry compound also has a much higher chance of filling the entire void below the surface due to its lower pump pressure and consistency, which helps create a stronger base and prevents future cracks.

  • Can handle more complex jobs
    Because the limestone slurry compound is pumped with less pressure through smaller holes, it is much easier for concrete leveling technicians to control the lift. When the pump is switched off, the lifting stops, greatly reducing the risk of overdoing the repair. 

  • Locally-sourced materials
    The limestone used in the limestone slurry compound comes from local quarries near each franchise. Instead of shipping big loads of material from one place, the A-1 team supports the local economy in each of its regions across America. 

  • Environmentally friendly
    The limestone slurry compound is made of 100% natural and environmentally-friendly materials. The limestone powder has no synthetic or harmful chemicals and can be washed safely away with water when the job is done.

    In fact, the limestone slurry compound uses agricultural lime as its main ingredient, which is used as a soil amendment to promote healthy plant growth!

Cons of Limestone Slurry Leveling

 
  • Larger drill holes than foam leveling
    While still smaller than the holes drilled for mudjacking repairs, it’s worth noting that limestone slurry drill holes are larger than those drilled for foam leveling. The difference between the ⅝” foam leveling holes vs. 1” limestone slurry holes may be an important consideration for some repairs.

  • More expensive than mudjacking
    Because the limestone slurry leveling system is a more refined take on traditional mudjacking, it’s typically more expensive than that option. While generally still much cheaper than foam, the limestone slurry method can be beaten in price by mudjacking.

Summary

While it’s true that limestone slurry leveling, traditional mudjacking, and foam leveling can all get the job done, there is a clear advantage to A-1’s proprietary limestone leveling system.

The limestone slurry leveling method is a safer, more reliable option that creates a truly durable end result when compared to traditional mudjacking and foam leveling based on the pros and cons of each method, but your local A-1 Concrete Leveling professional will assess your project and help determine which method is best for your particular situation.

A-1 Concrete Leveling has been perfecting the limestone slurry system for over 30 years, creating a product and service that is built to last. If you’re interested in scheduling a free estimate consultation, click the link below to contact one of our concrete leveling specialists today.

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Boyd is our longest-running franchise owner. He's been the owner of A-1 Southeast Michigan and Toldeo since 1994 and during that time it has grown to be one of our largest locations. This means he has the experience, and people in place, to make sure your job is done right the first time, every time.

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A-1 Concrete Leveling, Inc.
(888) 675-3835
388 S. Main St. Suite 402b,
Akron, OH 44311