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Airfield Pavements

Concrete Joints & Joint Sealing



Airfield Pavements
P.1 Concrete Joints & Joint Sealing Guidance Notes

1. Introduction
In an un-reinforced rigid pavement a regular arrangement of joints are required in the concrete slab. These joints serve a number of purposes; the main ones being to control cracking due to restrained shrinkage in the concrete after laying, to divide the pavement into suitably sized sections for ease of laying and then to accommodate any slab movement and cracking due to thermal and moisture effects in the slab (Reference 9).
A well-designed pavement joint will adequately control cracking, as well as providing a degree of load transfer between the adjoining slabs. It will also be designed in such a way as to prevent the ingress of foreign objects into the joint. The Britpave Airport Task Group has prepared this Guidance Note relating to the design, specification, construction, maintenance and performance of airfield pavement concrete joints in the UK. As part of the development of this Guidance Note, questionnaires were sent out to a number of airfield operators to ascertain current practice and issues of concern and scope for improvement on matters relating to concrete joints and we would like to thank those who kindly responded.

2. Concrete Joint Types and Joint Design

2.1 Joint Types
In the UK, the majority of concrete airfield pavements are in plain undowelled, un-reinforced Pavement Quality (PQ) Concrete. There are three principal types of joints, namely: Expansion joints, Transverse (or contraction) joints, and Longitudinal (or construction) joints.

2.4 Load Transfer

Load transfer at transverse joints is provided at aggregate interlock, though to improve load transfer of both longitudinal and transverse joints in plain PQ Concrete pavements a number of techniques are used and these include: Dowels Tie Bars Sinusoidal Keys Thickened Edges For guidance on the use of dowels in concrete pavements refer to Section 5.7 of PSA Guide (Reference 1). Details of thickened edges are contained in References 5 and 15. It should be noted that experience has shown that keyed joints do not perform adequately for high volume medium and heavy loads in pavements constructed on low and medium strength subgrades (References 5 and 15).

2.2 Purpose of Pavement Joints

As outlined above, the principle purpose of these joints are as follows: To control shrinkage induced cracking after laying, To accommodate the contraction and expansion of the slab resulting from temperature and moisture changes To enable load transfer between slabs longitudinally and transversely, Provide a natural break between two paving sessions.

2.3 Joint Design

The majority of concrete pavements in the UK are designed in accordance with either the PSA (Reference 1) or BAA (Reference 2) methods.

Joint sealant to BS2499 type F1 or BS5212 type F (recess for sealant to be formed by sawing), as described in Section 11. Pavement surface 5

Finish both sides with bullnose not exceeding 5mm radius


Coat of bitumen emulsion complying with BS 434

Bond breaker tape Saw cut (3 wide as detailed in table) to be finalised by Contractor following site trials. 13

All faces to be cleaned and primed prior to the installation of joint sealant, as described in Section 11.

Figure. 3.1: Sealed Transverse Joint (BAA)

Figure. 3.2: Longitudinal Unsealed Butt Joint (PSA)

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3. Concrete Joint Details

3.1 Joint Details
Guidance on the size, details and spacing of concrete joints is given in the following documents: Defence Works Functional Standard Specification 033 Pavement Quality Concrete for Airfields (1996), and in particular: - Section 5.7 Layout of Joints - Section 5.20 Expansion Joints - Section 5.21 Construction Joints - Section 5.27 Contraction Grooves - Section 5.29 Sealing of Expansion Joints - Figure 5.1 Details of Joints (Sheet 1) - Figure 5.2 - Details of Joints (Sheet 2) - Appendix C Tests for Manufactured Joint Fillers PSA Design Guide Section 5.3 and Figures 14 to 21 (Reference 1), US FAA AC150/5320-6D Sections 337 to 341 (Reference 5). BAA Standard Detail Drawings. Examples of typical joint details currently in use are shown in Figures 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 and 3.4 (reproduced from References 1 & 3 and BAA Standard Detail Drawings). US military practice is to limit the maximum size of slabs to between 6.1 and 7.6m for slab thickness in excess of 300mm (Reference 15). Other factors determining the spacing of concrete joints include: Pavement horizontal geometry, Structural design of the pavements, The type of coarse aggregate used in the concrete - more specifically the coefficient of thermal expansion of the aggregate. Aspect ratio - bays to be ideally square (typically, the maximum aspect ratio is limited to 1.5:1 (Reference 3) or 2:1 (BAA)). Where unavoidable, odd shaped bays should be reinforced with a layer of steel mesh. Changes of pavement type and thickness, Pavement ridge and valley lines, Differential settlement, Construction phasing, Limits and capabilities of construction paving plant and methods of construction, Maintaining consistent slab widths as far as possible in each construction phase, Direction of laying, Location of AGL Fittings (bay joints typically offset by some 1000mm from the fittings), Pavement penetrations (e.g. slot drains, pits, manholes, fuel hydrants, maintenance access shafts, etc) ideally this should fit in to the slab layout Location and type of surface water drainage system adopted (e.g. edge slot drain, inset valley with gullies, etc). Detailing of the bay layout will also take account of the following: Irregular edge bays - aspect ratio - (maximum 2:1) Included angle - minimum 60 (Reference3) and minimum 80 (BAA). Minimum length of joint - 1.0m (Reference 3 and BAA).

3.2 Joint Spacing

Typically, the spacing of longitudinal and transverse joints in the UK is between 3 and 7.5 metres. The actual spacing is a function of slab thickness, slab support, radius of relative stiffness, temperature and construction technique. US practice has found that joint spacing between 4 to 6 times the radius of relative stiffness perform satisfactorily on a stabilised sub-base. (Reference 5 - Section 337 (b)). The radius of relative stiffness is a measure of a concrete slabs resistance to deformation, and is defined as: l = [ (E.h3) / (12.k.(1-2)) ] 0.25 = the radius of relative stiffness = the Youngs Modulus = the slab thickness = the modulus of subgrade reaction, and = the Poissons ratio for concrete.


l E h k

Joint sealant to BS2499 type F1 or BS5212 type F (recess for sealant to be formed by sawing), as described in Section 11. 5

All faces to be cleaned and primed prior to the installation of joint sealant, as described in Section 11. Pavement surface

Saw cut 3mm maximum width

Saw cut depth 40mm or one fifth depth of slab which ever is greater

Formed edge 13


Induced Crack

Bond breaker tape

Figure. 3.3: Longitudinal Joint (BAA)

Figure. 3.4: Unsealed Transverse Joint (DE)

Airfield Pavements
P.3 Concrete Joints & Joint Sealing Guidance Notes

4. Concrete Joint Construction

4.1 Aggregate Types
Typically in the UK, PQ Concrete is now manufactured using crushed rock coarse aggregate, such as limestone and basalt. Prior to the early 1990s, flint and gravel coarse aggregate was used, due to its local availability, particularly in the south-east of England. The use of flint and gravel waned after this time, mainly due to the fact that concrete slabs using these coarse aggregate could not be readily sawn (without plucking). As flint and gravel has a higher coefficient of thermal expansion this leads to greater movement/higher stresses within the slab in hot weather than an identical slab with a lower coefficient, such as one using limestone coarse aggregate. is dependent on the sealant used and consequently, the manufacturers specific product recommendations on width-to-depth ratio should be followed. For concrete using flint coarse aggregate, the joints are typically formed by the use of plastic (or timber) crack inducers, though recent developments in soff-cut saw technology has allowed flint aggregate concrete to be sawn, as soon as, the concrete has sufficiently hardened to accommodate pedestrian loading.

4.3 Longitudinal Joints

Longitudinal, or construction joints are typically vertical joints and are formed by either fixed forms or slip forming. These joints are used at a transition between concrete slabs, such as at the end of a days construction and between alternate rows of slabs (Reference 13). The spacing of longitudinal joints is usually the same as the spacing of the transverse joints as the effect of warping and wheel load effects has been seen to be reduced in square bays (Reference 1). During the late 1990s, longitudinal joints with sinusoidal profiles have been trialled at a number of UK civil airports to improve load transfer (see Figure. 4.2) and their performance is currently under review. The vertical face is typically coated with bitumen emulsion after initial curing is complete. Widening and sealing of longitudinal joints on civil airfields is current common practice, details of which are shown in Figure 3.3

4.2 Transverse Joints

Transverse, or contraction, joints are primarily used to relieve tensile stresses due to the thermal contraction and warping of the concrete slab. The joint is commonly left un-dowelled; aggregate interlock being generally sufficient to transfer load between the slabs, especially if a stiff base layer is being used, such as lean concrete. If load transfer is felt to be critical in the pavement and dowels are to be used, then one end of the dowel bar should be lubricated to allow the longitudinal movement of the slabs relative to one another (Reference 13). For concrete with crushed rock coarse aggregate, transverse joints are typically formed by sawing the concrete some 8-24 hours after placing, a time when the concrete is still green and easy to saw, but is sufficiently set to prevent marking of the surface or the dislodging of coarse aggregate by the sawing process. The exact timing is a function of concrete mix, slab depth, temperature, use of slip membrane etc. The sawing of transverse joints is used in preference to wet forming the joints at the time of laying as wet-forming joints has been found to generate a number of problems on site, such as the over-working of adjacent concrete and consequential joins spalling (Reference 1). The initial saw cut is typically some 3mm wide and typically, a quarter or a fith of the PQ Concrete slab depth. If the joints are to be sealed, these are typically widened to 13mm for a depth of 20mm to form the sealant recess/reservoir (see Figure 4.1). The actual size of the recess

4.4 Expansion Joints

As their name suggests, expansion joints are provided to accommodate the expansion of the concrete due to thermal effects. In pavements over 250mm thick, expansion joints are not generally required, though may be needed in certain circumstances. General guidance on the spacing of expansion joints is contained in Section 5 of the PSA Design Guide (Reference 1). Expansion joints are also typically provided around pavement intrusions and major changes in the direction of paving.

Figure. 4.1: Joint Recess Sawing

Figure. 4.2: Vertical Sinusoidal Joint

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Concrete Joints & Joint Sealing Guidance Notes P.4

Expansion joints are typically formed against already cast vertical faces. A filler board of some 25mm width is provided against the vertical face of the pavement intrusion or concrete slab (and lean concrete base). In the case of slip formed pavements, recent practice has been to form the expansion joint by full depth saw cutting of the finished concrete and subsequent installation of the filler board. Care must be taken with selection of the filler board width, as a 25mm board will accommodate more expansion than a 13mm board and so the spacing between expansion joints can be greater. There are three main types of filler board typically used in the UK:

Bitumen impregnated fibreboard Closed cell polyethylene filler board Cork based filler board Each of the above have relative merits and, consequently, the choice should be made on economic and performance grounds. Expansion joints are typically sealed. Expansion joint details are typically as shown in Figure 4.3 below. It should be noted that whilst not current UK practice, US practice is to provide slab thickenings either side of an expansion joint (References 5 and 15).

5. Concrete Joint Sealing

In the UK, it has been common practice to seal concrete joints on civil airfields. However, based on experience from military airfields in the UK, where the policy is not to seal new longitudinal and transverse joints (unless the airfield overlies an aquifer), it is understood that a number of airport operators are now questioning the need and benefits in sealing joints in new concrete pavements. If joints are not sealed, the longitudinal joint should be finished with a radiussed arris to reduce the risk of spalling. Transverse joints with a width of over 5mm (i.e. a 3mm saw cut and a 2mm joint opening) should be sealed. The purpose of sealing the joints has typically been to: Prevent water ingress leading to damage of the pavement foundation, Prevent the ingress of harmful liquids, such as fuel and de-icers from entering groundwater, Preventing the ingress of grit, small stones and other debris which may inhibit the performance of the joint and cause spalling or result in a blow-up. A number of different types of joint sealant have been used, each with their own attributes in terms of ease of installation, cost, life expectancy, performance and H&S issues. Joint sealants used in concrete pavements are typically fuel resistant in nature and in certain circumstances are flame resistant. In the case of expansion joints, sealants should be carefully selected to accommodate the movement anticipated. Concrete joint sealant types include: Hot poured to BS2499 typically elastomeric, pitch PVC based. Some sealants to BS2499 have had service problems. Hot poured to American ASTM - requires standard pitch in the sealant. Hot-poured sealants to the ASTM generally perform better than those to BS2499. Cold poured to BS5212 typically elastomeric one and two part pitch polyurethane or polysulphide, Silicone seals, Neoprene compression seals, Self expanding cork, Neoprene expanding foam.

Separator Membrane

Separator Membrane Joint to be fitted flush with surface level in summer & autumn and 6mm below surface level in winter & spring

Joint finished with bullnose not exceeding 5mm radius

Manufactured joint filter board

25mm Hot poured joint seal Cold poured joint seal

Figure. 4.3: Undowelled expansion joint with hot or cold poured joint sealant

Airfield Pavements
P.5 Concrete Joints & Joint Sealing Guidance Notes

Historically, hot and cold poured fuel resistant elastomeric joint sealants, other than compression seals, perform well for between 5 and 10 years. The life and performance of the sealant is highly dependent on the preparation of the joint surfaces, the age of the concrete at the time of sealing, the temperature and movement range of the concrete. Recent Health and Safety concerns have resulted in the declining use of pitch based joint sealant products. Based on feedback from a number of airport operators, the resealing of joints is not always their highest maintenance priority and some

airports do not reseal joints due to lack of maintenance funds. The cost of joint resealing varies but typically is 5 -10 per linear metre. Recesses for joint sealants should be formed to the dimensions recommended by the sealant manufacturer. Typically, in the UK transverse and longitudinal joint sealant recesses are 13mm wide and 20mm deep and the joint sealant is finished 5mm below the surface.

6. Concrete Joint Failures

The most common concrete joint failures in the UK are: Edge spalling typically caused by manual over-working of longitudinal joints and/or late saw cutting of transverse joints. Durability (D) cracking. Debonding joint sealant, due to poor preparation and also age hardening of the joint sealant. Excessive extrusion of the sealant, due to compression of the joint (or overfilling of the joint reservoir in winter months). Tearing of the sealant, due to expansion of the joint (usually, where the spacing between expansion joints is too great). Typical examples of some of the above defects are shown below:

Figure. 6.2: Joint and Corner Spalls

Figure. 6.3: Corner Spalls

Figure 6.4: Corner Spalls

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7. References & Publications

The following documents provide useful details on the design, construction and maintenance of concrete joints. 1. Property Services Agency (PSA) A Guide to Airfield Pavement Design & Evaluation (1989). 2. BAA plc Pavement Design Guide for Heavy Aircraft Loading (1993). 3. Defence Works Functional Standard Specification 033 Pavement Quality Concrete for Airfields (1996). 4. Defence Works Functional Standard 06 Guide to Airfield Pavement Maintenance (1994) Section 4 Maintenance of Concrete Pavements. 5. US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) AC150/5320-6D Airport Pavement Design & Evaluation (1995). 6. US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) AC150/5370-10A Standards for Specifying Construction of Airports Item P-501 Portland Cement Concrete Pavement. 7. US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) AC150/5380-6 Guidelines and Procedures for Maintenance of Airport Pavements. 1. 2. 4. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. American Concrete Pavement Association Joint and Crack Sealing and Repair for Concrete Pavements (1995). Packard, R.G. - Design of Concrete Airport Pavement, Portland Cement Association (1973). Concrete Society TR 45 Mechanised Construction of Concrete Pavements & Ancillary Works (1996). Highways Agency / Britpave Concrete Pavement Maintenance Manual (2001). Shober, S.F. The Great Unsealing - A perspective on PCC Joint Sealing. Yoder, E.J. Principles of Pavement Design. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. (1959). TRL RR349 The Performance of Joint Sealants in Concrete Pavements (1992). US Army / Air Force Technical Manual Rigid Pavements for Airfields TM 5-825-3 / AFM 88-6, Chap. 3 (August 1988)



8. Acknowledgements
The Britpave Technical Committee would like to thank John Cairns (TPS Consult), Paul Mallows (TPS Consult) and Richard Moore (TPS Consult) for their assistance in the preparation of this Guidance Note and to Andy Delchar (Amec), Joe Quirke (SIAC), Graham Woodman (WSP) and Tim Gibbs (Fitzpatrick) for their contribution to this Guidance Note July 2002. Further details on Britpave are available at

Century House, Telford Avenue, Crowthorne, Berkshire RG45 6YS Tel. 01344 725731 Fax. 01344 761214