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Question 1:

What is the difference between shotcrete and Gunite?

Shotcrete is an all-inclusive term to describe the spraying of concrete or
mortar that may be accomplished through either a dry- or wet-mix process.
Gunite refers only to the dry-mix process in which the dry cementations
mixture is blown through a hose to the nozzle, where the water is injected
immediately prior to application. Because complete mixing of the water and
dry ingredients is not possible in the nozzle, mixing is completed as the
material impinges on the receiving surface, through manipulation of the
nozzle. This requires a very highly skilled nozzle man, especially in the case
of thick or heavily reinforced sections. Large aggregate is seldom used with
the dry-mix process. Wet-mix shotcrete involves pumping of a previously
prepared mixture, typically ready mixed concrete, to the nozzle. Compressed
air is introduced at the nozzle to impel the mixture onto the receiving
surface. The mixture usually contains minus 1/2 in. aggregate, although
larger-size aggregate has also been used.
The use of the term shotcrete first occurred in Railroad Age magazine more
than 50 years ago in place of the then proprietary word Gunite, and has
been used by the American Concrete Institute since at least 1967 to describe
all sprayed concrete or mortar.

Question 2:
How should I design joints for shotcrete?

Shotcrete is concrete forced or impelled through a hose using a pressurized
air system. Therefore, the guidelines for jointing concrete are no different
than for concrete placed by other methods.

Question 3:
I want to specify ACI Nozzle man Certification in my next project. A
contractor has told me that there are no certified nozzle men in the project
area. How can I verify that information? What should I direct this contractor
to do?

Go to the ACI website,, and click on the Certification tab. A
button will appear for the Certified Personnel Directory. Click this button.
Using Search Option 2, customize the search by type of certification and
location. Please note, ACI will identify the individual by name, city, and state
only. The individual address, telephone, or employer is not available from ACI
or the ASA. Education for ACI Certification is available through the ASA office.
Contact ASA for the roster of ASA Educators. Certification exams are
conducted by ACI-approved examiners in strict compliance with ACI
certification policies.

Question 4:
We have a project that calls for new 6 in. concrete shear walls formed and
placed against the existing structure from the basement up to the fourth
floor to enable an additional seven floors to be added to the structure. Our
engineer has suggested that the new shear walls be constructed using
shotcrete. We are not familiar with using this system for structural
applications. Most of the information we have gotten relates to using
shotcrete for swimming pools and cosmetic applications. What advice can
you provide?

The use of shotcrete for structural applications has been documented in
numerous articles in Shotcrete, Concrete International, and other
publications. The key is to find a shotcrete contractor experienced in
structural applications. Investigate the contractors project history to
determine his/her experience. A contractor experienced in this type of
structural enhancement will be most helpful in achieving the desired result in
an economical and timely manner.

Question 5:
We are building a new home. Foundation contractors who place traditional
basement walls tell us they would never go into a house built with walls
constructed using shotcrete. When used for walls, can shotcrete be of
equivalent strength as placed concrete?

Shotcrete is a method of building a structure using a concrete mixture. A
shotcrete mixture likely would exceed the compressive strength of most
mixtures used for placed walls because the application of shotcrete requires
a much lower water-cementations material ratio than commonly found in
residential wall mixtures. A shotcrete mixture will have a water-cementations
material ratio of approximately 0.50, yielding a compressive strength of
about 4000 psi at 28 days. Poured wall mixtures have ratios of approximately
0.70 and compressive strengths of 2500 to 3000 psi. The lower watercementations material ratios of shotcrete mixtures produce other benefits
such as reduced shrinkage and lower permeability. Additionally, the greater
compaction of shotcrete achieved through the velocity of placement
improves compressive strength and durability.

Question 6:
We will be using shotcrete to repair a concrete box culvert that has some
minor spalling. Do we need to apply a bonding agent before applying the
shotcrete? How should we prepare the surface?

No bonding agent is required. A key to a successful repair is proper surface
preparation. The surface receiving the shotcrete must have the deteriorated
material completely removed, be thoroughly cleaned, and in a saturated
surface-dry condition (SSD) at the time of shotcrete application. Another key
item is proper curing and protection following shotcreting. Details can be
found in the Task Force 37 Report Guide Specification for Shotcrete Repair of
Highway Bridges. The document is available from the American Association
of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Washington, DC.

Question 7:
I am a structural engineer working on a project in Southern California. We are
creating specifications for the use of shotcrete for basement walls. However,
I cannot find any information on compressive strength requirements for
shotcrete in the building code. We are basing our design on compressive
strengths ranging from 3500 to 4500 psi. Are there minimum and maximum
allowable compressive strengths for shotcrete?


To the best of our knowledge, there is no maximum compressive strength

limitation. The minimum compressive strength would be dictated by your
structural calculations as it would be with any structural concrete design. The
most common compressive strength specifically encountered by ASA
members in your area is a minimum of 4000 psi at 28 days.

Question 8:
Our firm has no experience designing for shotcrete applications. We have
been investigating the process and would like to know what we should be
looking for as the shotcrete is placed. Are there special features or problems
in shotcreting?

Proper placement is the most important element in achieving good shotcrete
results. Most defects that occur in shotcrete are due to poor placement.
Shotcrete success depends largely on the skill and actions of the nozzle man.
The nozzle mans goal is to achieve adequate compaction and good
encasement of the reinforcement (if present) with no entrapped rebound or
hardened overspray. For this reason, it is important to require that the nozzle
man be ACI certified for the application. There are specific certifications for
both wet and dry processes as well as vertical and overhead applications. If
the nozzle man is certified, the probability that you will get the desired
results is significantly increased. For more information on certification, visit
the ASA website,, and click on Certification.

Question 9:
I know air entrainment is required in concrete exposed to cycles of freezing
and thawing while saturated. However, the shotcrete I am going to be
applying on a project in Chicago is on a vertical surface where the water will
essentially run off the surface. Do I still need to worry about air content?

You are correct in stating that entrained air is necessary in concrete that is
exposed to freezing and thawing while critically saturated. Even vertical
walls can get critically saturated in places. Because you are working in a part
of the country that experiences significant freezing and thawing, it is
imperative that you maintain sufficient air content in the shotcrete.
Remember, you are going to lose some air content in the placement process
so the air content of the shotcrete mixture going into your pump must be
higher than the desired in-place air content. It is a wise idea to do some

testing in advance of the actual shotcreting to determine how much air

content you will lose.

Question 10:
We are going to be using shotcrete for repairs in a parking structure. We
have no experience performing this work and will be subcontracting this
portion of the job. What should we be watching for when the shotcrete is
being applied?

Surface preparation is a critical operation. The substrate must be prepared
properly. All deteriorated concrete must be removed. This is generally
accomplished with light-duty chipping hammers, scarifies, or scramblers. The
remaining concrete is then sandblasted or water blasted to remove the
concrete bruised by the initial removal operation. The objective is to create
a clean, sound surface with the proper surface roughness to receive the
shotcrete. the surface preparation, the substrate must be saturated with clean
water and then allowed to dry to a saturated, surface-dry condition
immediately prior to shotcreting. Shotcrete should not be applied to a bonedry surface as the substrate will absorb water in the shotcrete mixture
intended for hydration of the cement. Also, a bone-dry surface will tend to
allow plastic and drying shrinkage cracks to form. Conversely, a surface that
is wet at the time of shotcreting will result in a high water-cement ratio (w/c)
at the interface between the substrate and the shotcrete. High w/c at the
interface will result in significantly lower bond strengths.
As with all concrete, proper curing and protection is critical. Failure to cure
properly will result in lower shotcrete strengths and may cause some
delaminations if drying shrinkage causes stresses that exceed early bond
strength. Plastic shrinkage cracking and crazing may also result from
failure to cure and protect properly. Moist curing is the preferred method of
curing. If moist curing is not feasible, membrane curing compounds may be
Finally, be sure the nozzle man who will be applying shotcrete on your
project is certified by the American Concrete Institute (ACI). Certified nozzle
men have been trained and tested on the requirements for proper shotcrete
application. Insisting on this certification dramatically increases the
probability that you will get the desired results.

Question 11:
I am currently involved in the design of a large retaining wall for a job in
Boston. One option under consideration is the use of soil nails with shotcrete
lagging. The design anticipates a 100-year service life. What can I tell my
client to realistically expect from the shotcrete option? Is shotcrete durable in
the freezing-and-thawing conditions in this area? What is the best way to
improve the longevity of the product?

The simplest way to clarify things is to advise your client that shotcrete is not
a product but a process. Shotcreting is a process of installing concrete at a
high velocity. Because the concrete is installed at a high velocity, it will have
a higher density than conventional concrete in most cases. The increased
density will provide reduced permeability and higher durability.
A shotcrete mixture can be designed and proportioned to meet virtually any
job requirement. In this case, air entrainment must be specified. Whenever
any concrete mixture (shotcrete mixtures included) will be exposed to
freezing and thawing while critically saturated, air entrainment must be part
of the mixture. The amount of air entrainment required depends on the
maximum size of the coarse aggregate used. In general, for a mixture with a
maximum-sized coarse aggregate of 3/8 in. (10 mm), the air content should
be about 8% as-batched for a severe exposure condition.
Another key to longevity is reduction of permeability. As a mixture becomes
denser, the transmission of fluids through the mixture becomes more
difficult. This is especially critical when trying to protect reinforcing steel.
When chloride ions and oxygen reach reinforcing steel, corrosion is initiated.
Increasing the density by using products like silica fume, slag cement, and fly
ash dramatically decreases permeability.
Discuss the curing and protection plan with the contractor prior to the start
of shotcreting. Failure to cure and protect properly is the most common
reason for poor concrete or shotcrete performance.
Another oft.en overlooked element in obtaining an extended type of service
life is maintenance of the concrete structure. By periodically cleaning the
concrete and applying an appropriate surface sealer, materials that may lead
to deterioration are removed from the surface and not allowed to penetrate
the pore structure of the concrete.

Question 12:
I am a civil engineer working on the rehabilitation of a low fixed crest
concrete dam of 6 foot height. stitching of cracks and patch repairs, we
want to specify a 2.5" shotcrete facing on the down-stream side to protect
from high velocity-induced erosion. The up-stream side will be sealed with a
betonite-clay liner to save costs. To get a very dense concrete, we are
thinking of 8000 psi airentrained, fiber-reinforced mixture. Should we use a
WWF reinforcement? Should this be a wet or dry application?

Whether to use the wet or dry process depends primarily on your production
schedule. With wet you will get much higher production; it will be easier to
entrain air; and rebound and dust will be less. It is suggested that you use a
wet-mix, steel fiber reinforced, air entrained, silica fume shotcrete,
mechanically connected with L-bar anchors and small diameter bars (not
mesh) spanning between the anchors. For precedence with this type of
retrofit of the face of a dam, see the publication on "Seismic Retrofit of
Littlerock Dam, by Forrest, Morgan in ACI, Concrete International, November,
1995, pp. 30-36, or an abbreviated version of the paper in the ASA Shotcrete
Magazine, May,1999, pp. 46-55. If you must specify the shotcrete you can
use ASTM C 1436, Specification for Materials for Shotcrete, which will cover
all the materials mentioned, including fibers. For a general shotcrete
specification you should review ACI 506.2. You should not use welded wire
fabric and fibers together. Fibers will hang up on the mesh causing voids
behind the mesh. I recommend a steel fiber meeting ASTM C 1436, Type I,
Deformed at approximately 85 lbs/c.y. (50 kgs/c.m.). The steel fibers will tend
to lie in the plain of the shotcrete surface; however, you should be aware
that some fibers may protrude from the surface, and over time will corrode.
Thirty years of experience shows corrosion is only to carbonation depth (2-3
mm), and corrosion of one fiber does not effect other fibers nor disrupt the
shotcrete. Staining of the shotcrete surface is a possibility. Some spray a thin
( in.) layer of non-fibrous shotcrete as a final finish to cover fibers.

Question 13:
I am an architecture student and would like any information you could
provide in regard to the proper and typical mix ratios of cement to sand.

The best reference for shotcrete Questions in general is ACI 506 Specification for Shotcrete. It is available from the American Concrete

Question 14:
I have come across the term "spacing factor" and have been unable to find a
definition. What is a spacing factor?

The term "spacing factor" refers to the distance between air bubbles in
hardened concrete. All concrete has some air bubbles, usually in the range of
1 or 2%, referred to as "entrapped air". These bubbles provide no
freeze/thaw protection. Where freeze/thaw protection is desired, air bubbles
are intentionally introduced, or entrained, into the plastic concrete mixture.
These microscopic bubbles protect the mortar portion of the concrete by
providing space for water in the concrete to expand during the freezing
process. If these bubbles were not available for this purpose, the expansion
of the water would damage the mortar. An important characteristic of a good
air-void system is the spacing factor. Bubbles need to be in close proximity so
the water migrating through the concrete does not have to travel far to find a
bubble in which the water can expand. Ideally the spacing factor will be less
than 0.008 in. This analysis is performed on hardened concrete by a trained
petrographer using test method ASTM C 457. There usually is some slight
variance between petrographers evaluating the same concrete sample.

Question 15:
I am looking for any information regarding the use of construction joints for
permanent shotcrete wall facing. I have found information on placing
shotcrete over existing construction joints but none regarding the use of
construction joints for the shotcrete wall facing itself.

In many experiences, the spacing and design of the joints are the same as
you would expect for a cast in place wall. Walls have been constructed with
no joint, with contraction and expansion joints, with a joint that is caulked,
with joints containing water stops, and just about anything else you might
see in a cast in place wall. In short, it is suggested to look to the direction
given for cast in place concrete. The construction joint should be designed
similar to the needs of any cast in place wall.

Question 16:
I have a project wherein some 25,000 sq ft. of existing shotcrete is to
undergo varying degrees replacement, repair and restoration.

It is on slopes varying from 1:1 to 1:10 or so.

It is approximately 40 years old in most cases.

It is in a fairly arid climate (Southern New Mexico) with little rainfall and
typically low humidity.

The subgrade is non-plastic gravelly sandy material.

It was reinforced with wire mesh (looks like 6x6x10x10).

I'm interested in any techniques and/or materials that might be applicable.

I recommend reading the following publications in Shotcrete Magazine:
"Shotcrete for Ground Support: Current Practices in Western Canada", by
C.Chan, R Heere, & D. R. Morgan, Part I printed in Winter 2002, and Part II
printed in Spring 2002. "Soil and Rock Slope Stabilization Using Steel Fiber
Reinforced Shotcrete in North America", by M.Ballou & M Niermann, Summer

Question 17:
Can shotcrete be painted like other concrete? Can an elastomeric paint,
100% acrylic latex house paint or solvent acrylic be used? I have a customer
who wants to paint a tank which uses shotcrete. With normal concrete the
surface must be 30 days or older, pH is approximately 7-8 and moisture
content is low, remove efflorescence or laitance, etc., then it is ready to paint
or coat. Do the same restrictions for shotcrete?

Shotcrete is pneumatically applied concrete. All surface prep work for
concrete will be the same for shotcrete applications. Before a
recommendation can be made, is this tank going to be painted on the
outside or the inside? Second if this tank is to be painted on the inside, what
will be put in it? The environment in which this tank is located also plays a
key part in determining what type of paint or coating application. If this a
tank that has been in operation, what was stored in it? Testing of the
concrete in this case is important, in order to determine what method of
surface prep would be needed to achieve a good coating bond.

Question 18:
I am a general contractor who hired a company to shotcrete a new swimming
pool. They began on Friday, a very hot day, and they were placing concrete
very slowly (27 yards in 4 hours). Their pump broke down and they were
unable to complete the job that day so they returned on Monday. My
Question is about the "cold joint" between the work on Friday and the work
on Monday. What is your opinion of this situation?

On large swimming pools, it is not unusual to have joints that are left. over a
weekend or longer. The key is the means by which the joint is dealt with. As
with any concrete joint, the surface needs to be clean and free of laitance or
other contamination. This can be accomplished by cleaning the joint while it
is green on the first day or by cleaning with waterblasting, sandblasting, or
wire brushing the surface has gotten hard. As long as the joint is clean,
all gloss has been removed, and the joint is dampened the structure should
not be impacted by the joint. Also, 27 cubic yards in 4 hours is not

necessarily slow production. Depending upon the circumstances, I would

think that 27 cy in 4 hours was quite productive.

Question 19:
My company manufactures a polyester geogrid that is coated with PVC. We
sell these grids into underground mines, as well as many aboveground civil
engineering products. We have a new grid that may work very well as an
auxiliary reinforcement for shotcrete-type products. Can you tell me what the
pH is for these products? The type that we would be exposed to is used in
underground mines to reinforce the mine roofs.

The most commonly used estimates for pH of concrete are 13 for plastic
(fresh) concrete and about 10 for hardened concrete with a little age to it.

Question 20:
Is there any reference that differentiates between temporary shotcrete work
and permanent shotcrete work, as far as inspection/testing requirements?

Temporary lagging of shotcrete must meet some standard as it is the shoring
holding back the earth. If reinforcing is used in the design of the temporary
shoring it must be fully encapsulated to provide the design strength of the
lagging as specified in the design. A temporary structure may have a low
safety factor but the strength of the rebar and shotcrete must meet the
design specifications. Many times it is more important to do good shotcrete
for the temporary shoring just because it has a lower factor of safety and
therefore less allowance for poor construction practices.

Question 21:
I am looking for design information for shotcreting a steel sheet pile wall to
create a composite structure for a lift. station wet well. I can design the sheet
piling, which would be driven into the ground in a plan circle of 12 feet
diameter, followed by excavation. I need to know the practicality of then
applying a layer of shotcrete, primarily as a means of sealing the joints of the
sheet pile, protecting the sheet pile from the wastewater, and providing
additional wall strength. The lift. station will be above the water table during
construction, but would be periodically below the water table under
groundwater conditions.

There are four common types of sheet pile sealing: 1.) all seams were welded
to keep the ground water from seeping in, 2.) the sheet pile surface was
sandblasted for bonding, 3.) wire mesh was tack welded to the sheet pile and
4.) rebar was tack welded to the sheet piles. This was done prior to the
shotcrete layer. In each case the shotcrete is used as a coating to keep the
water from touching the piles and in the third and fourth examples, it is used
as a structural coating as well.

Question 22:
What is the minimum thickness that shotcrete can be applied? We are
currently using shotcrete on a restoration project and have a concern at the
corner locations are returning to tight recessed steel framed windows. There
is an exterior wood molding approximately 1 inch from the tight corner that
needs to be preserved. Do you have any suggestions as to how we can
address this? Do we need to provide caulking between the wood molding and
the shotcrete?

Thicknesses depend on the structure and surface (surface prep is the key to
proper bonding of shotcrete) the shotcrete is being applied to. Depending on
the application 1/4 flash coat to 1 inch thickness can be the minimum. As far
as shotcrete up to the steel windows, you have to consider that cracking may
occur off of each corner. This can be minimized by adding additional
reinforcement at those locations. It is common to tool in a joint around the

windows so that we could apply a caulk

waterproof seal between the window and
changes that may create some expansion
to depend on the trim work to create the
architect requires.

later. The caulking will assure a

the concrete during temperature
and contraction. You do not have
weather and water tight seal the

Question 23:
When used on walls, can shotcrete be of equivalent strength as poured

Basically, shotcrete is a method of placing concrete that does not require
forms. As a matter of fact, shotcrete requires the concrete mix to be proper
every time. With formed concrete walls, the ready mixed concrete going in
can be substandard and still appear to be okay. Shotcrete also provides a
more dense concrete less susceptible to water penetration. The most glaring
difference will be the quality of the materials used. Most poured walls are
designed for a compressive strength of 2500 to 3000 psi. Typically they are
placed with a water/cementitious material ratio of 0.60 and higher. Curing is
almost unknown in the poured wall sector. Protection only occurs in the
coldest weather. By the very nature of the process, shotcrete will have a
much lower w/cm ratio. This will produce a wall with higher compressive
strength and have the attributes of lower w/cm ratio concrete, i.e. reduced
permeability, less shrinkage, increased durability. With proper curing and
protection, the shotcrete mixture will produce significantly better long-term
performance. The shotcrete process should allow for easier addition of
insulation to the walls as well. This is especially important if the basement is
to be used for more than just storage.

Question 24:
Can you provide any information on insulating Gunite in spa installations?


There are two ways to insulate the outside of concrete spas. The first way is
to shotcrete the spa and then glue Styrofoam to the outside of the concrete
shell or to spray the insulated foam to the outside surface. The second way is
to use the ICF (insulated concrete form). You would only have to use one side
of this form system. This system would act as the outside form so that the
shotcrete could bond to the foam. This type of system has foam insulation
thicknesses from 1 to 4 inches thick. Yes, it can be fitted to form circles. Each
ICF system is different, so some research would be needed to see which
system would work the best. Since most spas are formed up before they are
shot, the ICF system would serve two purposes: forming and insulation in one

Question 25:
Is it possible to put a texture on the application side of a shotcrete wall? I
understand that I can shoot against a form, but what about the side that gets

There are many textures that can be applied to the finish surface of the
shotcrete. The least expensive is the natural nozzle finish which is rough and
tends to absorb light as opposed to reflecting light and standing out. On the
other extreme is carved and stained simulated rock as found in zoos and
amusement parks. Stamping or rolling also creates a great finish. The broom
finish is also very common. Color and textures are options and the owner or
designer needs to decide on the value and effect he/she is looking for.
Whatever finish, texture, pattern, color, stain, lump, bump, or crease that
can be applied to concrete also applies here.

Question 26:
I would like to get expert opinions regarding a proposal. I am reviewing from
a contractor to replace precast concrete wall panels with shotcrete wall. The
wall acts as a retaining wall and the precast panels were specified to span
between the soldier piles (with tiebacks), driven and anchored into the rock
at a spacing of 10 feet. Shotcrete walls over 3-inch wood lagging have been

proposed to replace the precast panels and they have been designed exactly
the same way as reinforced concrete walls. Using ACI Code working strength
design for 4000 psi concrete, and fs= 24000 psi steel, the reinforcing in the
shotcrete walls have been determined using value of a = 1.76 . ( As= M /
1.76. d ) I do not feel comfortable accepting the same equations and
numbers for a shotcrete wall as for a cast-in-place or precast concrete wall
with all the quality controls and rigid specifications per ACI 318 Code
concerning mixing, formwork, placement, vibration and curing. Could you
please provide an expert opinion on the matter? What would be the
reasonable values of coefficient to determine the reinforcing in shotcrete

We oft.en use shotcrete in lieu of cast in place concrete without using
different design factors. Shotcrete is simply a method of placing concrete.
Properly designed and constructed, the same reinforcing steel used for castin-place concrete or precast concrete should be able to be used with
shotcrete constructed retaining walls. The only differences would be in the
reinforcing detailing, in that the rebars should be tied in a configuration that
makes them suitable for proper encapsulation with shotcrete. Avoid bundled
bars or other conditions not conducive to proper shotcrete encapsulation.
See "ACI 506R-90 Guide to Shotcrete" for guidance, except that it is possible
to use much larger diameter bars than indicated in that document, as has
been described in several articles. (See for example the article by James
Warner on "Dealing with Reinforcing" in the Winter 2001 of Shotcrete

Question 27:
I am interested in constructing my home using shotcrete applied over
polystyrene panels. There are several systems for this, but I'm most
interested in avoiding "thermal bridging" that occurs when metal
reinforcement passes from the inside of the home to the outside through the
foam insulation. I am also interested in fabricating the panels myself, if
possible. There was a system utilizing metal reinforcement grids on each side
of the polystyrene panel connected by plastic components. Can you point me
toward a company that offers this system in the US?


ICS, 3-D panels are structurally reinforced styrofoam panels that, in

conjunction with properly applied shotcrete, become a superior building
system. This is a proven panel with a global track record and much
experience among ASA members. They are located in Brunswick, GA.

Question 28:
Do you have any publications on shotcrete curing, specifically in tunneling?
How is shotcrete cured in tunnel constructions with the temperature and
moisture problems?

All concrete must be cured to ensure full and proper hydration of
cementitious components control of shrinkage. Shotcrete is concrete placed
pneumatically, therefore must be cured, as all concrete must be. The tunnel
environment presents positive and negative conditions. The humidity in an
underground space is generally high in humidity and constant in a moderate
to cool temperature. Both conducive to slow egress of moisture from the
concrete and "natural" curing. The negative in tunnel construction is
ventilation air which is generally of high volume and high speed, which tends
to dry the surface and "pull" important moisture out of the sprayed concrete.
Most tunnels can tolerate extra water in the work space, therefore misting or
spraying water onto the concrete surfaces, especially overhead, is the most
practical method of curing. Sprayed on liquid membranes are effective as
long as their interference with bonding of additional layers of concrete,
sprayed or cast, is not an issue. Recommended reading: "Understanding and
Controlling Shrinkage and Cracking in Shotcrete" by D.R. Morgan and C.Chan,
published in the ASA Shotcrete magazine.

Question 29:
I am trying to find an article on the bond strength between two layers of
shotcrete. My company is placing a 22" thick shotcrete retaining wall and, at
a later date, we are placing a small amount of shotcrete over the existing
shotcrete wall. The Engineer thinks the shotcrete will just falls off over time.

Is this true? Can you point me in a direction that might have information on
the bond strength between two layers of shotcrete?

There is a paper by Denis Beaupre about this issue in the May 1999 issue of
Shotcrete magazine. The simple answer to bonding layers of shotcrete is the
same as bonding layers of concrete in typical repair applications. Bonding
agents are not recommended. The bond strength between shotcrete layers is
generally superior to cast interface because of the impact of velocity and the
matrices that form at the bond plane and provide a denser, therefore
stronger interface. The key in any bonding situation is primarily dependent
on the surface preparation before application of the next layer. The surface
must be clean and free of latence and any other unsound materials and
should be roughened or textured (gun finish is sufficient) to provide sufficient
keying or mechanical locking as required. The surface should be SSD and
overspray from progressive application should be controlled. ACI
International and the International Concrete Repair Institute can provide
direction for surface prep. AASHTO/AGC/FHWA Task Group 37 Report, "Guide
for Shotcrete Repair of Bridges and Structures" contains spec and procedure
information that should be useful.

Question 30:
Can you provide input on the applicability of the shotcrete placement
method for the structural repair of existing concrete walls? These walls (two)
are conventionally reinforced, 31 feet in height and are parallel with a clear
spacing of 5'-0". There length is 150 feet. Structural repair is required at
many locations that have experienced spalled concrete with corroded
reinforcing bars. Depth of repairs will range from 2" to approximately 6".
Concrete substrate will have exposed aggregate with a significant amplitude.
From a production and cost viewpoint, shotcrete appears to be more
applicable than a form and pour or form and pump repair method.

From the limited info given, it sounds like an ideal shotcrete application. But,
with many caveats, such as: TOTAL deteriorated substrate removal, thorough
removal of all aggregate/substrate that may have been fractured during
removal of deteriorated concrete (heavy sandblasting and/or high pressure

washing), using a replacement concrete mix with similar properties as the

original, thorough cleaning or removal and replacement of corroded rebar,
etc. It is suggested to discuss this with a shotcreter in the area that has
experience with a similar application. It is also recommended to review
related ACI and ICRI publications.

Question 31:
We have a project that our subcontractor would like to change from concrete
liner for a box culvert to a shotcrete liner it is a C.O.E. project. The C.O.E. has
questions of durability. Could you help?

If the shotcrete is applied correctly, the durability factor is better than cast in
place concrete. The 506 and the ASTM documents have references on this
subject. There have been papers written on durability and permeability.
Countless culverts have been very successfully relined with shotcrete, not
only concrete culverts but also brick lined and galvanized metal culverts. If
you broaden the definition of culvert to include tunnels you would most likely
be identifying where the largest volume of shotcrete is used as a
rehabilitation method. To answer questions of durability, shotcrete should be
thought of a process or method of placing concrete. Shotcrete in place is
concrete. The higher cement content of shotcrete and the impaction of its
placement mix design for mix design of other placement methods create a
higher strength and more dense, thus less permeable concrete.

Question 32:
We are building a home where some of the outside walls are bricked. Is there
a way to use shotcrete over strand board (chipboard)? If so, how and what
cost would there be approximately a square foot for the actual shotcrete


More information is needed before answering this correctly. Shotcrete will

stick to strand board, but you need some type of reinforcement (wire mesh)
to hold it all together. A good cement plaster mix at a lower velocity would
be more economical. Contractors who have shotcreted a house in the past
will tell you that it is too time consuming for the money involved.

Question 33:
We are having a pool built with shotcrete. The pool company has asked us to
change the contract to allow them to use the wet method instead of the dry
method of shotcrete. I have read through your website and found it helpful in
understanding the difference between the two, but I would like to know if one
is better or more sound than the other.

Pools are built with both processes. Some find it easier to shoot pools with
the wet method. But, when properly done, there should be no difference in
performance between wet and dry process shotcrete. Depending on the
complexity of the pool, the wet method placement can be faster than the dry
method. It comes down to the experience of the contractor and their crews,
for a good quality placed pool shell. The nozzle man plays a key role in the
placement of well placed shotcrete in both methods. The geographical area
may determine the economics of which method is used. Curing of the inplace concrete shell is the same for both processes (water curing for 7 days).
Wet concrete has a 90 minute window from the time it is batched at the
plant until it placed. Temperature of the material and the air temperature can
increase or decrease the set times of the concrete. Typically Ready-Mix
companies hold back 10-15 gallons of water in the mix so that the contractor
can adjust the slump of the concrete on site. Adding 1 gallon of water over
the design mix (amount of gallons of water per yard of concrete) can
decrease the strength of the concrete by 200psi.
If you have additional concerns, the following questions should be asked:

Does the contractor have a good track record of shooting pools with
the wet method?

How many pools have they completed with the wet method?

Can you provide a list of past completed jobs?

How do they plan to incorporate the trimmed concrete into the shell?
(The rebound and the trimmed concrete play a key role in the final
quality of the pool shell.)

What concrete mix design do they plan to use?

Question 34:
We have a design/build drainage channel project that requires a concrete
lining over secant piles in which the secant piles form the main structural
walls of a box culvert. The box culvert discharges into the ocean. We
proposed a shotcrete concrete liner but there are concerns about the life
service durability of shotcrete in a saline environment. Do you have any
reference information on this matter that we could use to support our

Please refer to the following articles:
Morgan, D.R. "Freeze-Thaw Durability of Shotcrete" Concrete International,
Vol. 11, No.8, August 1989, pp 86-93.
Shotcrete magazine Vol. 4, No. 5, Fall 2002, pp. 32-38
Shotcrete magazine Vol. 5, No. 2, Spring 2003, pp. 30-37, Freeze-Thaw
Durability of Shotcrete,
Gilbride,P., Morgan, D.R. and Bremner,T.W. "Deterioration and Rehabilitation
of Berth Faces in Tidal Zones at the Port of Saint John", ACI, Concrete in
Marine Environment, SP-109, 1988, pp.199-227.
Gilbride, P. Morgan, D.R. and Bremner T.W. "Performance of Shotcrete Repairs
to the Berth Faces at the Port of Saint John", Third CANMET/ACI International
Symposium on Performance of Concrete in Marine Environment,1996, pp
Morgan,D.R., Rich L. and Lobo, A, "About Face-Repair at Port of Montreal",
Concrete International, Vol. 20, No.9, September,1998, pp. 66-73.

The bottom line is that with a properly designed, air-entrained shotcrete,

properly applied by qualified nozzle men, you should be able to get a good
quality product, with long-term freeze thaw durability every bit as good as a
quality, air-entrained cast-in-place concrete.

Question 35:
Our company is developing alkali-free accelerator, both powder and liquid
types. Since our information and knowledge is limited, please answer the
following questions:

1. What is the formal definition of alkali-free in DIN, ASTM, or other


2. What is the lowest pH value of alkali-free accelerator? In which pH

value that the product won't harm to the human tissue or vascular
system? Please also advise where we can find the related information.

3. Is it acceptable to use Aluminum Sulfate as the main component of

alkali-free accelerator?


1. - Na2O (sodium oxide) equivalent, below 1.0%

2. 3 is the lowest; anywhere between 3 and 10, most European

specifications state a range between 3 and 8 for better performance.

3. - Yes

Question 36:
I wish to request expert advice from ASA in regard to the Gunite Contractor's
Association method that we are using to make test cylinders (i.e. 6" diameter
and 12" high shot into a form of 3/4" square mesh hardware cloth). Since we
are currently in the process of guniting a silo and have today received 3,250

psi rather than the mix designed 4,000 psi 7-day strengths, we would
appreciate your prompt response.

The method of using 6" diameter by 12" long wire mesh cylinders has not
been used regularly in several years. The most accepted means of taking
samples is as specified in ACI 506 documents which generally require a
sample panel of approximately 18"X18" by 4" thick from which cores are
taken. The cores should be taken at a minimum distance from the edge of
the thickness of the panel to yield fair test results. ACI 506.4R-94 references
under testing of shotcrete, ASTM C 1140-03 (Standard Practice for Preparing
and Testing Specimens from Shotcrete Test Panels. Also ASTM C42/C 42M-03
(Standard Test Method for Obtaining and Testing Drilled Cores and Sawed
Beams of Concrete. Standard 18"X18"X4" panels are typically made. ASTM C
1140-03 states a 24"X24"X4", cores are to be taken 1 core diameter plus one
inch from any side of the test panel.

Question 37:
I have a special request for a shotcrete mix design. My company has been
using shotcrete for about three years, here in Alaska. I have recently had a
request to shotcrete a 60'x50' duck pond to make it waterproof. The
problems I am running into are that moose keep walking into the pond, and
the pond is on the side of a hill with built up edges around the outside. The
mix design I am looking for needs to have an epoxy or some kind of adhesive
to help stop the water from running out the cracks. Last, are there any fabric
or plastic materials that I could lay down and spray the wet shotcrete on to
put on the sides of the pond?

This inquiry involves a lot more than just mix design. First, additives to the
mix by themselves will not keep the shotcrete from cracking. To minimize
leakage for the proposed application, he will have to use either a
waterproofing membrane on top of the shotcrete, or plaster like would be
used on a swimming pool. Putting a membrane behind the shotcrete would
only serve to keep ground water from entering the pond through the back
side. The other aspect to be addressed is the fact that all concrete shrinks,
and that is what causes the cracks. So anything that can be done to

minimize shrinkage should help. To name just a few items: avoid shooting on
a windy and or low humidity day; use aggregates in the mix that have a good
record regarding shrinkage; avoid excessive cement content in the mix; use
reinforcing steel (mesh or rebar); synthetic fibers help reduce early plastic
shrinkage; proper curing is absolutely essential!

Question 38:
We are shotcreting our first wall and the contractor tells us that in shotcrete,
the lapping of the bars is not done by putting the bars alongside each other
as in conventional pouring of concrete but rather a gap is left. between the
bars in order to avoid voids behind bars bundles. A two-inch gap is being
used on our job. Is there a publication that deals with reinforcing steel
placement in shotcrete in general and one that deals with bar laps in

The ACI 506R-90 Guide to Shotcrete, Section 5.4.2 is the publication you are
looking for. Amongst other things it states: "If the design allows, lapping of
the reinforcing splices should be avoided. Lapped bars should be spaced
apart at least three times the diameter of the largest bar at the splice". If
laps are not permitted by the design, then it is best to lap the bars one on
top of the other (relative to the shooting orientation), rather than side-byside, to facilitates proper encapsulation with shotcrete.

Question 39:
I'm looking for information as to the thickness design of shotcrete for ditch
slope lining purposes. Can you direct me?

Typically, the thickness is a minimum of 3 inches and slope lining in the 6 to
8 inch range is oft.en installed. The reinforcing is also variable with the
lightest sections with no reinforcing or a low dosage of polyfibers or light

welded wire fabric and the heavier sections with rebar. Basically, a lot of
different designs can be used. We are not aware of any widely used

Question 40:
Our development has 8 recirculating water ponds of various sizes. All are
vinyl liner under concrete construction. Some ponds have developed leaks
due to cracking of the concrete. Will shotcrete provide an adequate seal to
stop the leaks for an appreciable time?

When trying to find a contractor in your area, please visit the Corporate
Member page of this website. When constructing water ponds, the liner is
always under the concrete just in case the concrete cracks not on top.
Master Builders makes a product called Master Seal 345 which is designed to
waterproof the concrete before the shotcrete is placed. Using a macro
synthetic fiber for strength, flexural and to control shrinkage cracking will
help. It comes down to proper prep work prior to placement and curing of the
concrete (7 days of water) to control cracks. Bentonite shotcrete could be a
possibility or perhaps plastic shotcrete (cement and bentonite shotcrete).

Question 41:
We are a construction company and are currently executing a cathodic
protection work for the reinforced concrete pile caps of a jetty. the
application of concrete repairs and placement of CP system over the R/C
surfaces, we are to cover the concrete surfaces with a waterproofing
material. The engineer of the project recommends the shotcrete application
with a thin layer in order to provide with the protection of the buried anode
strips and as well as waterproofing of the surface. We use strip type CP
anodes and we place them into the sound/repaired concrete by saw cutting
the surface. Saw cuts are 1/4" width by 1" depth and located top, mid and
bottom sections of the 40" depth vertical pile cap surface. Our questions are:

1. Can we apply a thin layer of shotcrete over the repaired concrete

surfaces without having any reinforcement and would it be a good
solution as far as the stability of the shotcrete is concerned?

2. Would it be a safe solution to apply the shotcrete over the repaired

surfaces just to provide with the protection of the CP anodes placed in
saw cuts as described above?

3. Would it be enough to make a waterproof coating instead of

applying shotcrete to the whole concrete surface so that the
waterproofing of the surface shall be provided?

When involved with The High Level Bridge in Fairmount, WV we had several
aspects of shotcrete repair on this project. This also included the largest
installation of cathodic mesh on top and bottom of each arch span which was
then covered by shotcrete. Several cathodic design issues affected the
shotcrete application. Surface profiling had to be conducted prior to mesh
installation for bonding purposes. The anchor spacing had to be drastically
reduced because of the small gauge wire and the vibration it caused during
shooting. A thin layer of silica fume dry shotcrete (Gunite-MS) from the
Quikrete Company was applied over the mesh. A natural gun finished was
chosen over a trowel/broom finish because of the delaminations it created
during the finishing. Curing of this thin layer was very important in
preventing it from delaminating from the surface.

1. Yes, but the surface needs to be profiled for bonding of the shotcrete
to the old surface.

2. Yes, but more information is needed. Repair all bad areas, profile the
entire surface that will receive the cathodic system, shotcrete the
entire surface, waterproof the entire surface.

3. With out seeing the job or design, it would be hard to make any
suggestions on this subject. You may need to review what the
manufacture for the cathodic system recommended?

Question 42:

We are currently in the process of doing a seismic upgrade to one of our

parking structures using shotcrete. During this process, the murals that are
painted on the interior walls are being removed and will be repainted at a
later date. How long do I wait before it is cured enough to begin painting?

The easy answer is that shotcrete material is the same as concrete material
and that the same rules or guidelines would apply to shotcrete as to
concrete. We usually tell our customers to present this question to the
painters. The curing process and chemical reactions are greatest in the first
28 days. Generally a paint or coating is not applied until the curing of
the shotcrete is complete, or mostly so, and the moisture content of the
shotcrete is below a point specified by the coating manufacturer.

Question 43:
I am trying to find out if there is any research or literature regarding the
drying shrinkage of shotcrete. Can you help?

See ACI 506R, Sec. 1.7 (ACI document). Typical shrinkage varies in the range
of 0.06 to 0.10 percent 28 days drying. It is typically slightly higher
than similar strength concrete, mostly due to less and/or smaller coarse
aggregate in the shotcrete mix.

Question 44:
I've been a pool builder all my life and I use your magazine as a technical
source and I really enjoy it. I found a conflict: In Shotcrete Summer 2004,
page 30, the answer to the second question suggests the use of 8% as
batched air content with max sized coarse aggregate of 3/8 inch. The conflict
I have is that a) won't 8% as batched drop to 1-2% wet gunning? and
b) previous articles suggested the use of 15-22% air as batched to help get it
through the hose and to achieve 8% in place. Can you clarify?

For over 30 years in Canada we have been designing wet mix shotcrete for
exterior exposure (rock-slope stabilization, tunnel portals, canals and beams,
infrastructure rehabilitation, etc.) to have air content at the point of
discharge into the pump to be in the 7 to 10% range. Pumping and the
impact on shooting reduces the air content in the in-place shotcrete by about
half. i.e. we find the in-place air content in the shotcrete to consistently be in
about the 3.5 to 5.0% range. (Only about 1 to 2% air content is lost in
pumping; the rest is lost in impacting on the receiving surface).
The air content is measured either by digging out the in-place shotcrete (or
dig it out of a shot test panel) and reconsolidating it in the base of the air
pressure meter in the ASTM C231 test and conducting the test. Alternatively
the shotcrete can be shot directly into the air pressure meter base. It
provides virtually the same value as obtained with dug-out shotcrete (as
described above), provided the nozzle is held perpendicular to the air
pressure meter base, and at the appropriate distance for proper
consolidation of the shotcrete.
Testing on numerous projects has demonstrated that shotcrete with 3.5 to
5% in-place air content has a good air voids system ( air content, spacing
factor and specific surface), when analyzed in the ASTM C457 test. Such
shotcrete has been demonstrated to have good freeze/thaw durability in the
ASTM C666 test and deicing salt scaling resistance in the ASTM C672 test.
More importantly, feedback from the field demonstrates that such air
entrained shotcrete with many thousands of cycles of freezing and thawing
in the field over several decades display good durability. There are many
research and case-history examples in the published shotcrete literature to
support these observations. (See references 1 and 2 below)
With respect to the use of very high air contents at the pump (15-22%), this
has been more of a research initiative, used on only a few projects in
Quebec, and is not common practice, nor in this writer's opinion, necessary.
There is another benefit which accrues from the use of air entraining
admixtures to get 7-10% air content in the shotcrete discharged at the
pump. As any concrete user knows, as the air content increases, the slump
goes up. For shotcrete mixes (which have high cementitious contents and
low rock contents compared to concretes) this makes the mix easier to pump
and shoot. Thus it is common to shoot air entrained wet mix shotcrete at 100
to125mm (4 to 5 inch) slump. On impacting on the receiving surface, as the
air content is reduced by about half, the slump of the in-place shotcrete is
also instantaneously reduced by about half. (This can be demonstrated by
digging the shotcrete out of the in-place material, or a test panel and

conducting a slump test on it). We refer to this phenomenon as the "slump

killing "process and have used it to advantage on many shotcrete projects.
With a good air entrained shotcrete mix design (particularly when silica fume
is used) we commonly shoot vertical sections as much as 500mm (20in)
thick at 100 to 125mm (4 to 5 inch) slump in a single pass with no problems
of sagging or sloughing (fall-out), without having to resort to the use of
Finally, there are a few situations where 7 to 10% air content in the shotcrete
at discharge into the pump may not work. These are situations where excess
air content reduction could occur during shotcrete conveyance, such as
dropping shotcrete down a pipe from the surface in an underground mine
and catching it in a kettle or remixer unit. In this case, air, if needed, is best
added underground in the remixer. Also, pumping shotcrete long distances
(particularly pumping shotcrete downhill) may result in excessive loss of air
content in the line, which could cause a slump reduction in the line and
possible pumping problems. Other than for situations such as these, we
always use 7-10% air content in the shotcrete at the point of discharge into
the pump (even if it is not needed for frost resistance reasons) because of its
enhanced pumping and "slump killer effects".
Reference 1: Morgan, D.R., Freeze-Thaw Durability of Shotcrete, Concrete
International, Vol. 11, No. 8, August, 1989, pp 86-93
Reference 2: Morgan, D.R., Kirkness, A.J., McAskill, N. and Duke, N., FreezeThaw Durability of Wet-Mix and Dry-Mix Shotcretes with Silica Fume and
Steel Fibers, ASTM Cement, Concrete Aggregates, Vol. 10, No. 2, Winter
1988, pp 96-102.

Question 45:
As a specifier, should I specify which processdry or wetshould be used on
my projects? What are the significant differences?

The application of shotcrete can be done successfully with either method.
The dry-mix shotcrete process tends to be more favorable for lower volume
placements. It is also a more flexible method, allowing for more frequent
relocations of equipment. Equipment is more easily cleaned at the end of the

placement. The nozzle man must exercise great care in adding the necessary
amount of water while shooting.
The wet-mix shotcrete method is more favorable for larger volume
placements. Rebound is substantially less than in the dry-mix shotcrete
process. The nozzle man does not have to be concerned with controlling the
water addition. This method is less efficient when there is a requirement for
frequently starting and stopping placements. The wet shotcrete mixture has
a limited pot-life.
Remember, shotcrete is not a special product. It is a method of placing
concrete. All the recommended practices for concrete placed by any other
method, such as curing and protection, also apply to shotcrete.

Question 46:
My firm is a general contracting entity that frequently uses shotcrete
subcontractors. When project specifications are not clear on testing, I have
been relying on the advice of my shotcrete subcontractors on the frequency
of taking tests for compliance with strength requirements. We always shoot a
test panel prior to starting construction. How much testing should we be
doing during construction?

ACI 506.2, Specification for Shotcrete, recommends that a test panel be
produced for every 50 yd3 (38 m3) of shotcrete placed or one per day,
whichever is less. A minimum of three cores are to be cut from the test panel
for compressive strength testing in accordance with ASTM C 42, Standard
Test Method for Obtaining and Testing Drilled Cores and Sawed Beams of
Concrete. Testing must be performed in accordance with ASTM C 1140,
Standard Practice for Preparing and Testing Specimens from Shotcrete
Panels. The average of the strength results from the cores must be at least
85% of the specified strength with no individual core less that 75% of the
specified strength.

Question 47:

Is there a U.L. (Underwriters Laboratories) certification for shotcrete?

No. Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete. Therefore, any applicable
certifications would apply to concrete regardless of the method of

Question 48:
I have a client who may be interested in using shotcrete for walls in a
radiosurgery unit requiring radiation shielding. Could you please tell me the
typical density of shotcrete?

Shotcrete made with normalweight aggregates will have a density of
approximately 145 lb/ft.3 (2323 kg/m3).

Question 49:
Are there specific benefits in using silica fume in shotcrete beyond reduced
permeability in the hardened shotcrete?

Shotcrete containing silica fume will tend to be more adhesive (sticking to
substrate surfaces) and cohesive (adhesion to itself). This will result in
quicker build-up (greater thicknesses per pass) and possibly reduced need
for accelerators. Silica fume additions also result in dramatic reductions in
rebound, particularly with the dry-mix process.

Question 50:
The Park District Department of our city is in the process of designing a new
swimming pool. One of the prospective bidders made a presentation in which
they said they would use shotcrete instead of conventional cast in place
concrete. Their design is to use 6 in.-thick walls instead of the 12 in.-thick
walls as proposed for the cast in place design. They claim that 6 in. of
shotcrete is as strong as 12 in. of formed concrete. Is this a true statement?

If this statement was true, there would be a lot more shotcrete projects! The
truth is that shotcrete is a method of concrete placement, not a special
material. The materials, mix designs, and mix proportions may vary between
the shotcrete method and the conventional concrete form and pour method,
but the thickness and reinforcing of the structure will be very similar.
There is a subtle difference between the two methods that might affect
thickness requirements. Shotcrete is generally placed directly onto the
undisturbed soil, joining with the soil to provide the shell for the pool. To use
the form and pour method, over-excavation would be required to
accommodate two-sided forming. The walls would then have to withstand
the forces of backfilling. This may result in a thicker wall requirement. The
final decision regarding wall thickness, however, should be made by a
structural engineer.
Shotcrete is widely used for swimming pool construction. In some areas it is
virtually the only method used. Successful shotcrete swimming pool
construction is a result of having an appropriate design, selecting a qualified
contractor with certified nozzle men, selecting appropriate materials and
shotcrete mixture design, and following industry recommendations for
placing, finishing, and curing.

Question 51:
I am working on repairing some mildly deteriorated walls in a drinking-water
treatment plant. There are no chlorides used in the treatment process. I
would like to apply a 1 in.-thick shotcrete layer over the existing concrete
utilizing a mix containing silica fume, which will achieve a compressive
strength of 5000 psi at 28 days. I am having difficulty formulating a mix to

meet those requirements that also has a water soluble chloride content of
less than 0.10 % chloride ion concentration by mass of cement. I cannot get
the chloride ion concentration below 0.15%. What adjustments can I make to
get to my goal of 0.10% or less?

There are areas that have no problem getting values lower than the most
stringent ACI requirement of 0.06% for prestressed concrete with no special
adjustments. It would be prudent to test each of the proposed shotcrete
constituents to determine their soluble chloride ion content. The most likely
suspects are the aggregate and water sources. Typically portland cement and
silica fume would contribute little, if any, detectable chloride ions. Assuming
this would be a dry-process application, the only admixture other than the
silica fume might be an air entraining agent, which would not provide any
chloride ions. This leaves only the aggregates and water as the sources. At a
minimum, the aggregates and water should be tested by a qualified
laboratory for soluble chloride ion content. Alternate sources of aggregates
and water may be required based on the laboratory results.

Question 52:
Our firm is working as a consultant for a project. We have very little
experience with shotcrete. What is the life span for a shotcrete wall?

Shotcrete is a method of concrete placement, not a product. Therefore,
concrete placed by the shotcrete method will exhibit the same
characteristics as concrete placed by other methods. Mixture designs and
proportions for shotcrete are modified for high-velocity placement. The high
velocity provides some performance improvements over conventional castin-place methods when properly placed.

Question 53:

What is the best reference when specifying aggregate gradations for

shotcrete projects?

ASTM C 33 contains a variety of aggregate gradations. Gradations
recommended for shotcrete applications can be found in ASTM C 1436,
Standard Specification for Materials for Shotcrete, or ACI 506, Guide to
Shotcrete. Note that ACI 506 includes the caveat that aggregates failing to
comply with gradations shown in Table 2.1 may be used if preconstruction
testing proves that they give satisfactory results or if acceptable service
records are available.

Question 54:
I want to apply a 3.5 in. (89 mm) veneer of shotcrete over an existing cast-inplace wall. I am concerned about how well the shotcrete will bond to the
existing wall. This wall is 50 ft. (15.25 m) in height. What are the keys to
doing this work successfully?

This is a common use for shotcrete. The key elements are as follows.

1. Proper surface preparation. To establish suitable surface roughness,

use heavy-duty sandblasting, high-pressure water blasting, or
mechanical methods such as scabblers or scarifiers, followed by
sandblasting or high-pressure water blasting to remove the bruised
surface material. Refer to ICRI Guideline No. 03732, concrete surface
profile Chip 6 (CSP 6), or greater.

2. Provide mechanical connection between the shotcrete and concrete

by installing L-bar anchors (epoxy or portland cement grouted) on a
systematic pattern, with reinforcing bar (or heavy-duty mesh) spanning
vertically and horizontally between the anchor bars. Size and spacing
of the bars to be determined by the structural engineer. Position
anchors and reinforcing bar to ensure adequate shotcrete cover to
them. Nonmechanically connected veneers are not recommended.

3. Wash concrete surface with clean water to remove dust or any other
contaminants to achieve a good bond and presaturate concrete. Allow
concrete to dry back to a saturated surface dry (SSD) condition
immediately prior to shotcrete application. If concrete dries
excessively, bring back to SSD condition with fogging. (A 3000 psi [21
MPa] water pressure sprayer works well for this purpose).

4. Apply the shotcrete from the bottom up, taking care not to entrap
rebound/hardened overspray. Use proper shotcreting techniques to
encase reinforcing bar and anchors. Use 45-degree construction joints
(do not construct long tapered joints).

5. Use shooting wires, guide forms, or other suitable methods (for

example, rods with alignment bubbles) to establish proper line and
grade. When the shotcrete has stiffened sufficiently, trim it to line and
grade with cutting rods and then finish using fresnos or floats to
provide the desired surface texture (wood floats for more textured
finish, rubber/sponge floats or magnesium floats for intermediate
texture finish, or steel floats with steel toweling for smooth finish).
Note: very smooth finishes are not recommended as they tend to show
imperfections from hand-finishing procedures. Avoid over-finishing of
shotcrete or procedures/timing which could pull tears or
sags/sloughs/delaminations in the fresh shotcrete.

6. Cure the freshly placed shotcrete using one of the methods

prescribed in ACI 506R-90. Our preferred method is fogging/misting
until the shotcrete has reached initial set, followed by wet curing for 7
days using presaturated plastic-coated geotextile fabric (for example,
Transguard 4000), which is kept wet with soaker hoses. Curing
compounds are a (second best) alternative, but should not be used if a
paint or coating is to be applied, unless they are approved by the
coating/paint supplier for such purposes.

Question 55:
We are having a swimming pool built with shotcrete. Our question is, what is
the required curing time for shotcrete prior to exposure to heavy rain? We
are trying to plan the shotcrete installation when the weather looks most

Shotcrete needs to be protected from rain until it obtains its final set, usually
4 or 5 hours. Following final set, it should be wet cured for at least 4 days,
preferably 7 days if possible. The exposure to rain would prove beneficial as
the rain would assure the presence of moisture for continued curing.

Question 56:
I will be shotcreting an existing structure that has some diesel fuel and oil
stains on the existing concrete. How should I treat them before shotcreting?

There are a number of ways to treat these stains. Successful treatment will
depend on the specific material in the stain and the depth of the stain. The
first step would be to try to draw out the material from the surface by
applying a poultice of finely ground kitty litter, cement powder, or talc and
allow the surface to dry. Repeat this application if necessary.
Next, try a scrubbing a nominally dry detergent powder into the surface.
Allow the powder to dry and rinse off the surface. Follow this treatment with
a liquid detergent scrubbed with a bristle brush into the surface. Allow the
liquid to remain in the surface for 1 to 2 days, then rinse thoroughly. Should
the staining persist, you may want to try a proprietary stain remover
specifically intended for use on concrete.
Muratic acid is also an option. However, muratic acid can have deleterious
affects on the concrete if not thoroughly removed. Because of its potential to
attack concrete aggregates and mortar, along with the hazards inherent with
applying and removing acid, muratic acid should only be used with the
guidance of an experienced consultant. Following a thorough power washing,
the surface should be mechanically roughened to ensure proper bond with
the shotcrete.

Question 57:

Our firm is preparing to use the shotcrete method on a project for the first
time. What type of prequalification work should we be specifying?

There are four basic reasons to require preconstruction qualification testing:
1. To prove the suitability of the fresh shotcrete mixture design for the
intended use;
2. To verify the proposed mixture will produce the required strength and any
other specified hardened shotcrete properties;
3. To prove the ability of the nozzle man (and blowpipe operator, if required)
to place dense, homogeneous shotcrete completely encasing the reinforcing
steel under field conditions; and
4. To prove the desired surface finish can be achieved.
This testing must be discussed in detail with the shotcrete contractor in
advance with a clear understanding of the expected outcomes and the
process for any required adjustments. Requiring ACI Nozzle man certification
is an important requirement in screening for qualified nozzle operators.
However, it is not a guarantee that the nozzle man has applied shotcrete
under the same conditions to be encountered on your project. Therefore, a
preconstruction plan is an important part of critical projects. Other
prequalification testing may be necessary depending on the nature of the

Question 58:
We are hearing a lot of discussion about performance versus prescription
specifications? What do we need to know about this discussion?

The short version of this discussion is that performance specifications
provide a list of desired results. The contractor takes this list and selects
materials and methods to produce the desired results. The contractor
assumes responsibility for results. Prescriptive specifications are very specific

as to what materials, proportions, and methods of installation are to be used.

The specifier assumes responsibility for the results. The contractor must be
able to demonstrate compliance with the specification. Which method is
better? The answer to this question is highly dependent on the nature of the
project. However, in general, performance specifications produce a higher
probability of achieving the desired results as the contractor is better able to
use his expertise as it applies to project conditions.

Question 59:
I am doing a wet-process shotcrete project. The shotcrete mixture is being
delivered by a ready mixed concrete company. Recently we had some delays
on the site. The inspector told us that any concrete not unloaded within 90
minutes of arrival on the site would be rejected. Where does that rule come

ASTM C 94, Standard Specification for Ready Mixed Concrete states that
concrete must be unloaded within 90 minutes of contact between water,
cement, and aggregates, or before the mixer drum has revolved 300
revolutionswhichever comes first. This limit, however, may be waived by
the purchaser if the concrete has sufficient workability that it can be placed
without the addition of water. In hot weather, the 90-minute limit may be
reduced by the purchaser.

Question 60:
I am bidding a tunnel project and am uncertain about part of the
specifications. Are specifications for shotcrete temperature different for the
wet and dry processes? Are there separate requirements for the shotcrete,
ambient, and surface temperatures? Can you refer me to industry standards?


The requirements for material temperatures are the same for both wet and
dry shotcreting. Refer to Sections 8.7 and 8.8 of ACI 506R-90, Guide to
Shotcrete, for recommended shotcrete temperatures during placement.
Additional information is available in ACI 506.2-95, Specification for
Shotcrete, in the sections on hot and cold weather shotcreting. Generally,
concrete mixtures should be maintained at temperatures above 50 F (10 C)
and below 100 F (38 C). Ambient temperatures should be maintained in a
similar range.
Regarding surface temperatures, concrete should never be placed on a
frozen substrate. Practical experience in Canadian mines has lead to a
suggested minimum temperature of 40 F (4 C) for the rock receiving the
shotcrete. Without special measures, cold temperatures will cause the
shotcrete to set more slowly and result in slower strength development.
Remember that in thin sections, the shotcrete will lose its heat more quickly
in cold conditions.

Question 61:
What wire size and opening are recommended for repair of bridge
substructures? We realize the mesh would not be for restoring or improving
structural capacity, merely to help control cracking.

The inclusion of wire mesh must be considered on a case-by-case basis,
depending on the thickness and orientation of the shotcrete. Thin sections
may well not have any wire mesh. In aggressive environments, at least 2 in.
(50 mm) of shotcrete must cover the mesh. The mesh size should be at least
2 x 2 in. (50 x 50 mm) and preferably 4 x 4 in. (100 x 100 mm) to allow for
proper encapsulation. Overhead shotcrete usually includes wire mesh for
thicknesses greater than 2 in. (50 mm) in case the shotcrete debonds from
the substrate. The mesh must be mechanically anchored.
Some designers are eliminating wire mesh and relying on synthetic fiber
reinforcement for shrinkage crack control. The use of synthetic fiber
eliminates the concern over cover and corrosion in aggressive environments.
Specific recommendations on the amount and type of fiber should come from
the manufacturer.

Question 62:
Our general contracting firm is working on a project with a very tight
schedule and significant penalties for missing the completion date. It has
been suggested that we consider using shotcrete for the below-grade
foundation walls. We have been told that we can save significant time by
using shotcrete instead of cast-in-place construction. These walls are heavily
reinforced. Has this been done successfully elsewhere?

Yes. Heavily-reinforced shotcrete has been used in California for over 50
years in response to the need to retrofit structures to resist earthquake
damage. The shotcrete contractor must demonstrate his ability to shoot test
panels with the same reinforcement as designed into the project. By using an
experienced and qualified shotcrete contractor, it is possible to achieve cost
savings of almost 30% and time savings approaching 50%.

Question 63:
Is a bonding agent recommended when placing shotcrete on an existing

A bonding agent is not required or recommended. A properly prepared
substrate in a saturated surface-dry condition (SSD) is the optimum condition
for application of shotcrete. Bonding agents may act as a bond breaker in
some circumstances.

Question 64:
My firm just completed a 2 in. (51 mm) overlay of shotcrete in an existing
storage tank. Almost immediately the shotcrete was applied, we

noticed spider web cracking on almost the entire surface. The weather was
very hot during shotcreting, and we suspect this caused the cracking. The
project engineer is concerned about permeability and is thinking of having
the shotcrete removed. Is removal really required or can we live with this

Removal is probably not called for in this situation. Spider web cracking
usually is an indication of crazing, a form of plastic shrinkage cracking.
Crazing generally occurs when the combination of temperature and humidity
creates a rate of evaporation at the surface of the concrete that is higher
than the rate of bleed water exiting the concrete. Because the surface has
very little, if any, tensile strength at this time, crazing cracks start to form.
The good news is that crazing is an aesthetic problem. It affects only the
very top surface and does not extend deeply into the concrete. Crazing
cracks are more apparent when the surface is damp.
To avoid or limit crazing, be conscious of the weather conditions during
placement. If there will be high temperature, low humidity, and moderate to
high winds, measures such as fogging and/or erection of windbreaks may be
required during placement. Synthetic fibers will help inhibit the formation of
crazing cracks. Curing must begin as soon as possible, especially in these

Question 65:
What is the recommended core size for shotcrete? Are there unique
characteristics of shotcrete cores?

Regarding sample size for compressive strength, the core length-to-diameter
ratio should be in the range of 1:1 to 2:1, with length-to-diameter core
strength correction factors applied as per the requirements in ASTM C 42,
Clause 7.9.1. Shotcrete test panels are typically between 3.5 to 5 in. (89 to
127 mm) deep. Thus, either 3 or 4 in. (76 to 102 mm) diameter cores should
be drilled for compressive strength testing, depending on test panel
thickness. We would also suggest referring to ASTM C 1604/C 1604M for
securing and testing cores of shotcrete. This new test method allows smaller

core diameters for shotcrete in an effort to provide for increased length-todiameter ratios. Care should be taken when interpreting the compressive
strengths using smaller-diameter cores because of the possible presence of
voids, which may result in compressive strengths that are not representative
of the actual in-place shotcrete.

Question 66:
Is the core grading scale in the ACI CP-60(02) manual used as an acceptance
tool on projects?

According to ACI 506R-05, the core grading method in ACI CP-60(02) is only
to be used for nozzle man evaluation. (This is typically done in ACI Shotcrete
Nozzle man Certification sessions and/or in preconstruction testing.) The core
grading method should not be used to evaluate structures.

Question 67:
Our construction management firm is relatively new in allowing shotcrete on
our projects. In the most recent issue of Shotcrete magazine, there was a
discussion of cores taken from shotcrete in the FAQ feature. Is there
additional critical information we should be aware of when determining our
coring plan?

ASTM C 1604, Standard Test Method for Obtaining and Testing Drilled Cores,
covers cores that are obtained for determination of length, compressive
strength, or split tensile strength. In addition to discovering the thickness of
the applied shotcrete and its strength, a visual assessment can be made to
evaluate the shotcrete quality, workmanship, shotcrete-to-substrate bond,
and condition of the reinforcement. Shotcrete core strength is affected by
core orientation relative to the direction of the shotcrete application.
Therefore vertical, sub-horizontal, and overhead application of the same

shotcrete may show variability. If obtaining cores for determination of

compressive strength, cores containing wire mesh or reinforcing bars may
not be used. Also, if a sample has been damaged in the process of removal,
it cannot be used for strength determination. Cores must have a diameter of
at least 3.0 in. unless otherwise permitted by the specifier. Cores with
diameters less than 3.0 may demonstrate somewhat lower strengths and
have greater variability. They may also be more sensitive to length-diameter
ratio. Cores with length-diameter (L/D) ratios greater than 2.1 must be sawed
to produce a capped or ground specimen with a L/D ratio between 1.9 and
2.1. Strength results from cores with L/D ratios less than 1.75 must be
corrected as detailed in ASTM C42. A core having a length of less than 95%
of its diameter before capping or a length less than its diameter
capping or grinding shall not be tested unless otherwise directed by the
specifier. To avoid introducing the effects of moisture gradients of wetting
and drying, extracted cores are to be stored in a sealed plastic bag at all
times except during end preparation and a maximum of 2 hours prior to
capping. Prior to capping, it is a good idea to determine the density of each
core. Reported results should include the following: length of the core as
drilled reported to the nearest " (5 mm); length of the test specimen before
capping or grinding reported to the nearest 0.1 in. (2 mm) and average
diameter to the nearest 0.01 in. (0.2 mm); compressive strength reported to
the nearest 10 psi (0.1 mpa) if the diameter is reported to the nearest 0.01
in. (0.2 mm) or nearest 50 psi (0.5 mpa) if the diameter is reported to the
nearest 0.1 in. (2 mm); direction of the application of the load with respect to
the horizontal plane of the shotcrete as placed; moisture conditioning
history; date and time of test; nominal maximum size of the shotcrete
aggregate; if determined, the estimated density; and any deviation from the
stated test method and the reason for the deviation.

Question 68:
We have a large pond (12,000 ft.2 [1115 m2]) 12 ft. (4 m) deep with 2-to-1
sloped sides. It currently has an old PVC liner that is ripped and cannot be
repaired. We have no shotcrete experience and wonder if shotcrete would be
a better option than installing a new PVC liner?

Shotcrete is used extensively for zooscapes, water parks, museum exhibits,
swimming pools, and spas. A shotcrete water feature, although more
expensive than PVC liner, would provide a long-term, more aesthetically

pleasing alternative to a new PVC pond liner. Shotcrete is very versatile and
can be shaped to replicate natural rock ledges or boulders. A properly
designed and built water feature would provide a low-maintenance, durable

Question 69:
Is there any specified finish for shotcrete?

There are several different finishes that are specified for shotcrete. One is a
natural gun finish, which is the natural finish as sprayed (oft.en used in slope
protection). Another is a cut-down finish, which is cut-to-grade with the edge
of a trowel or cutting rod (this finish is oft.en flashed and sealed with a light
gun finish to seal and texture the surface). Oft.en in concrete repair, a trowel
finish is specified where the shotcrete is cut down with the edge of a trowel
or cutting rod to grade the initial set of the material, and the surface is
lightly flashed and toweled. Several different finishes can be achieved with
shotcrete, but it should not be pushed or floated with the flat part of the
trowel, as is done with poured concrete. It is important to wait for the initial
set of the material and to use the edge of the trowel to cut the high points or
shave the surface to achieve the grade or effect desired. Several excellent
articles describing shotcrete finishes and finishing techniques are available
as free downloads from the ASA website: One article,
Technical Tip: Technical Tips on Shotcrete Finishes, written by Denis Beaupre,
describes the different finishes that can be applied to shotcrete. Another
article of interest would be Finishes for Retaining Walls by Marcus H. von der
Hofen. Go the Publications section of the ASA website, click on "Click here to
search the archive of Shotcrete Publications" and type "Shotcrete Finish" in
the search window.

Question 70:
I am a project engineer. Recently I received a mixture design for a shotcrete
project that included limestone coarse aggregate. This is a first for me. All
other shotcrete mixtures I have seen have had pea gravel as a coarse

aggregate or no coarse aggregate at all. Is limestone commonly used in


A limestone coarse aggregate will generally be harder and more angular than
what you are used to seeing in shotcrete mixtures. It really shouldnt be a
problem to use. In dry-process gunning, it is considerably more abrasive so
there is more wear and tear on equipment, such as hoses, bowls, and wear
plates, but it generally guns fine. In wet-process gunning, a sharper
aggregate may not flow as easily through the hoses as smoother sand and
pea gravel aggregates would. These are issues that the shotcrete contractor
will have to address. They should have no effect on the quality of the inplace shotcrete.

Question 71:
We are concerned about the compressive strengths of shotcrete recently
placed on one of our projects. The specification calls for 8000 psi (55 MPa).
Test results indicate we are only at 5200 psi (36 MPa) at 28 days. Ambient
temperatures are constant at about 45 F (7 C) at the point of placement.
Should we be considering removal of the shotcrete?

Shotcrete, like any other concrete mixture, will continue to gain strength as
long as there are unhydrated cement particles present along with sufficient
temperature and moisture. Strength development will generally be quite
slow at the ambient temperature reported. The inclusion of supplementary
cementitious materials in this mixture is a benefit in this instance as strength
will increase as long as calcium hydroxide is available from the hydration of
the cement. The specified strength should eventually be attained as long as
the ambient temperature does decrease further and some form of moisture
is available to the shotcrete.

Question 72:

I am in the process of designing a 6" shotcrete overlay for an existing wall

that is approximately 1,250 square feet. The shotcrete subcontractor has
proposed to use a dry-mix shotcrete. What are the advantages and
disadvantages to the dry-mix process? The design includes dowels on 24"
centers and 4x4 W4xW4 wire mesh. Can the entire 6 inch thickness be
placed at one or will it require a number of different lift.s to build up to the 6
inch thickness?

The overlay can be placed successfully with either a dry-mix or wet-mix
shotcrete process. The preference of the shotcrete subcontractor is likely
related to his/her past experience and what they are best suited doing. The
advantages of dry-mix process are beyond the scope of a simple answer. The
process is well described in ACI 506R Guide to Shotcrete. The entire 6 inch
thickness can be placed in one layer using the bench gunning technique. The
number of vertical lift.s would depend upon the height of the wall and the
nature of the surface that the shotcrete is being placed against.

Question 73:
We are currently designing a retaining wall, sloped at 1H:0.5V, 5.5 high. We
want to use shotcrete for this 12 inch (300mm) thick structural wall. For
strength requirements, we are able to use a 10mm mesh, however this does
not satisfy for crack control requirements. For crack control, it is required that
we us 1/2 inch (12mm) individual rebars. Obviously for cost and ease of
construction, the mesh is a favorable choice for reinforcing. Is there a typical
section for this type of application? Will shotcrete shrink less than poured

Each retaining wall needs to be engineered for the specific job conditions.
However it is fairly common to see two layers of reinforcing bars in a wall of
this thickness. In addition to reinforcing the wall, the steel would help
support the shotcrete during placement. If drying shrinkage crack control is
an issue, synthetic fibers may be added. Shrinkage in shotcrete mixes may
be higher than a poured concrete with a 1" (25mm) maximum sized coarse
aggregate content, and higher cement/cementitious material content. This

may be partially offset by a slightly lower water/cementitious material ratio

in a shotcrete mixture.

Question 74:
We are looking at lining an existing 20 ft. (6.1 m) diameter brick sewer with
shotcrete that is 15 in. (0.4 m) or more thick and fairly heavily reinforced.
Can this be done? The existing sewer is about 3 mi (4.8 km) long and 100
years old. Would shotcrete be a suitable method of rehabilitation? The
rehabilitation is not just a liner, but the owner wants the shotcrete designed
as a replacement pipe inside the existing brick sewer, designed for all earth
and other superimposed loads as though the brick sewer were not there.

Yes, this can and should be done in shotcrete. Shotcrete has been used to
successfully line brick sewers for 75 years. Shotcrete has been used to line
over $40 million worth of brick sewers in Atlanta alone. Large brick sewers
have been lined with shotcrete in most of the major midwestern cities. All of
them were designed using the existing sewer as a one-sided form. Properly
designed and constructed, shotcrete will provide the owner with a new
concrete pipe or permanent tunnel lining and the associated expected

Question 75:
We are currently designing a retaining wall, sloped at 1H:0.5V, 18 ft. (5.5 m)
high. We want to use shotcrete for this 12 in. (300 mm) thick structural wall.
For strength requirements, we are able to use a 0.4 in. (10 mm) mesh;
however, this does not satisfy for crack control requirements. For crack
control, it is required that 1/2 in. (12 mm) individual reinforcing bars are
used. Obviously, for cost and ease of construction, the mesh is the favorable
choice of reinforcing. Is there a typical section for this type of application?
Will shotcrete shrink less than placed concrete?


Each retaining wall needs to be engineered for the specific job conditions. It
is fairly common, however, to see two layers of reinforcing bars in a wall of
this thickness. In addition to reinforcing the wall, the steel would help
support the shotcrete during placement. If drying shrinkage crack control is
an issue, synthetic fibers may be added. Shrinkage in shotcrete mixtures
may be higher than placed concrete with a 1 in. (25 mm) maximum-sized
coarse aggregate due to smaller coarse aggregate size in shotcrete mixtures,
higher fine aggregate content, and higher cement/cementitious material
content. This may be partially offset by a slightly lower water-cementitious
material ratio in a shotcrete mixture.

Question 76:
We have a 6 in. (152 mm) thick tilt-up concrete wall that needs to be
upgraded to achieve a 4-hour fire rating. We would like to add shotcrete to
achieve that rating. What is the hourly rating per inch of shotcrete? We were
hoping that 2 in. (51 mm) of shotcrete would provide the desired rating.

Shotcrete is a method of concrete placement, not a special type of concrete.
The fire-rating of a concrete wall constructed by shotcreting or pouring will
be the same. The important consideration is the requirements of the
Underwriters Laboratory (UL) Fire Resistance Directory. The directory will
provide guidance. UL ratings provide the most widely accepted criteria.

Question 77:
We would like to apply a 2 in. (50 mm) layer of shotcrete on 10 ft. (3 m)
diameter steel pipes including wire mesh. Is this practical? If so, how do we
do this successfully?

This type of application is very common. Either wet- or dry-process shotcrete
can be used successfully. The mixture should contain a minimal amount of

coarse aggregate and be rich in cementitious material to minimize rebound.

Generally either 2 x 2 in. (50 x 50 mm) 14 gauge or 2 x 4 in. (50 x 100 mm)
12 or 14 gauge welded wire fabric is used. The wire fabric needs to be
spaced off the surface of the steel pipe to allow the shotcrete to encase the
wire properly. This can be accomplished by welding studs or nuts on the pipe
surface and securing the wire to them.

Question 78:
Can brackish or salt water be used to make shotcrete for a pool and will it
have any negative effect on the quality of a shotcrete pool?

As a general rule of thumb, brackish or salt water should not be used as
shotcrete mixing water. High chloride ion contents can cause rapid setting of
the shotcrete (which can make finishing difficult) and longer-term reinforcing
steel corrosion-induced cracking, delamination, and spalling. Other
components of brackish water can also be damaging to the fresh and
hardened shotcrete. For a detailed statement on what constitutes acceptable
contents of various dissolved chemicals for concrete/shotcrete mixing water,
refer to the Portland Cement Association publication Design and Control of
Concrete Mixtures, Chapter 4, "Mixing Water for Concrete." One could also
consult ASTM C1602/C1602M for limits on the composition of nonpotable
water for use in the production of shotcrete.

Question 79:
We are constructing a canopy for a mine entrance. We need to attach some
type of wire mesh to the wood fillers to give the shotcrete some surface to
bond to. What type of wire would be the best for this application? The mine
canopy is self-supporting and the shotcrete is strictly to be used as a sealant.


AA typical wire mesh for such applications is 2 x 2 in. (51 x 51 mm) by 12 or

14 gauge; 3 x 3 in. (76 x 76 mm) by 11 gauge; or 4 x 4 in. (102 x 102 mm)
by 10 gauge. It is important that the mesh be secured such that it does not
move during the shotcrete placement. The mesh will tend to be pushed away
from the back surface by the pressure of the shotcrete application.

Question 80:
What can we add to dry-process shotcrete mixtures for cold weather

Successful cold weather placements require more than just modifying a
mixture. The mixture temperature, condition of the substrate, and the
placing and curing environment are also important considerations. Generally,
one is discouraged from trying to apply shotcrete if substrate temperatures
are too cold and the ambient temperature is at 40 F (5 C) and falling. There
are, however, exceptions for extreme situations such as shotcreting in
permafrost ground conditions, where it is not possible (or advisable) to heat
up the substrate. In such conditions, special accelerated dry-mix shotcretes
(in conjunction with the use of heated materials) have been successfully
used. This type of work is highly specialized and not recommended for the
Accelerators can be added to shotcrete mixtures to help overcome cold
weather conditions. The accelerator can be either a liquid accelerator added
with the mixing water at the nozzle or a dry-powdered accelerator in
prebagged dry-mix shotcrete. Caution is advised when using accelerators
containing calcium chloride, as the use of these materials may accelerate
corrosion of reinforcing steel. More information can be found in ACI 306R,
"Cold Weather Concreting," available from the American Concrete Institute,

Question 81:

How can I maintain a 2 in. (50 mm) thickness of shotcrete in a rock

excavated tunnel?

There are many ways of maintaining the thickness of shotcrete. When
placing shotcrete over a rough rock excavation, the thickness will vary with
more material filling in the voids than covering the high points. Some
methods of checking or maintaining the thickness are as follows: stabbing
the plastic shotcrete with a depth gauge; preinstalling pins to the desired
thickness; and using groundwires or shooting wires that would create an
even plane over the length of the wires.

Question 82:
Can shotcrete be applied to a slope to act as a retaining wall without a
moisture barrier? If a moisture barrier is recommended, what type should we

Most shotcrete slopes are placed without moisture barriers and are
constructed to ensure that water pressure does not build up behind the slope
and create hydrostatic pressure on the backside of the shotcrete. This is
generally done with drainage material and weep holes or vents near the
base of the shotcrete slope. Please bear in mind that shotcrete slope paving
alone is not generally considered as a retaining wall. If shotcrete slope
paving is to be used as a retaining structure, it is generally done in
conjunction with soil nailing, tie backs, or some type of structural footing. If
the shotcrete is intended to be used as a structural wall, a structural
engineer must be consulted to be sure all structural issues are addressed.

Question 83:
We are having a swimming pool constructed. The pool consultant is
concerned about cold joints during construction if walls and the floor are

shotcreted on different days. The shotcrete subcontractor states that there is

no problem as the next layer of shotcrete will knit itself to the previous
placement and form a solid bond. Is the shotcrete subcontractor correct?

Yes, if care is taken to prepare the receiving surface properly. The receiving
shotcrete edge must be sound (no loose or unconsolidated material), clean
(no traces of laitance or gloss), rough, and dampened to a saturated surfacedry condition. If these steps are followed, there should be no concern about
the soundness of the joint.

Question 84:
What is the maximum thickness for shotcrete used for shear walls? Can we
use more than 12 ft. (3.7 m) if we use a double layer of reinforcing?

There is no stated maximum thickness for shotcrete used in shear walls or
any other type of wall. Walls have been successfully placed to a thickness of
36 in. (914 mm) for some time. The two main concerns are the heat of
hydration and proper encapsulation of the reinforcing steel. Because
shotcrete mixtures typically contain more cement per cubic yard or cubic
meter than formed and poured placements, there will be more heat
generated by the shotcrete mixture. The ability of the nozzle man to
encapsulate the reinforcing will be a function of proper mixture design,
proper selection of shotcrete equipment, and the skill level of the nozzle man
and the crew.

Question 85:
We would like to get approval to use shotcrete on the perimeter walls of an
existing laboratory building. We would be shooting against a waterproofing
membrane and shoring lagging. The project engineer is concerned that the
shotcrete will damage the membrane, resulting in leaking into the occupied

space. Are there any examples where this type of shotcrete placement has
been used?

This is a commonly used technique in the Western U.S. and Canada, and has
been used successfully from Stanley Hall at the University of California at
Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, to the Baltimore Hilton Convention Center near
Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD. There are a number of suppliers of
waterproofing materials to choose from for this application. In selecting a
supplier, be sure there is field service available to inspect the project before
placement of the shotcrete.

Question 86:
I am repairing a concrete masonry unit (CMU) block wall that was partially
damaged when a portion of the roof collapsed. The engineer on the project is
proposing to apply shotcrete to one side of the wall to help structurally
reinforce the wall. I would like to know if there is a way to finish the wall so it
is cosmetically pleasing, especially since this is on the inside of an existing
building with the other walls being a painted CMU. Also, were can I get some
conceptual pricing for applying the shotcrete?

Shotcrete can, and oft.en is, finished to provide nice printable wall surfaces.
To be the same general texture of the concrete block wall, you should specify
a wood or rubber float finish. You can access the ASA Buyers Guide at to locate
organizations regarding budget or conceptual pricing.

Question 87:
I have an unfinished (dirt) basement with a stacked stone and mortar
foundation. Can I shotcrete the existing dirt walls and floor with shotcrete MS

(micro silica enhanced) and have it adhere to the dirt portion of the
basement? If so, what method would be best?

Shotcrete would work well for the overlay of the walls. In most cases, floors
are placed by a conventional cast-in-place method. Either the wet- or dry-mix
procedure would work well for the walls. To ensure good bond of the
shotcrete to the walls, the walls should be cleaned and prepared to assure
that the shotcrete is bonding to sound material rather than contaminates
such as dirt or weathered material. You might also want to consider
reinforcing the walls, but you should consult with an engineer on how to do
this and with what material. If you were to use the wet-mix process, you
could use the same equipment to place the floor as you are using for the

Question 88:
I am lining a below-ground conical shaped excavation with shotcrete.
Dimensions are approximately 90 ft. (27.4 m) diameter by 45 ft. (13.7 m)
depth. Sand will be moved in and out of the container daily. Temperature
range is 590 to 740 F (310 to 393 C). Can you tell me if a mixture is
available that can meet the following specific conditions:

Withstand the temperature ranges noted above without spalling,

cracking, etc.; and

Resist abrasion assuming hot sand is flowing over the surface area

You certainly have adverse conditions to work with! There are products on
the market based on calcium aluminate cements that will tolerate the
temperatures you mention and are durable. These products can be placed
using the shotcrete process. A list of companies who supply this product can

Question 89:
I am reconfiguring the interior of a spa and am wondering if drains and jets
can be relocated without compromising the overall structure and getting cold
cracks. Can the entire interior be re-shot to maintain the monolithic form and
guarantee against failure? Is there an independent professional who could
conduct an on-site inspection and recommend a next step?

We are not able to advise you on the structural integrity of a remodel of a
spa or any other structure and would suggest you consult with a local
engineer who is familiar with pools and spas. Shotcrete is oft.en used to
overlay or patch structures and the success of such overlays and patches is
highly dependent upon the quality of the surface preparation prior to the
application of the shotcrete. With respect to referrals of independent
professionals, we would suggest that you use the directory of Corporate
Members in the ASA Buyers Guide.

Question 90:
I am a civil engineer looking to use shotcrete in a culvert rehabilitation
project. Due to flow constraints, we are forced to have a maximum wall
thickness of 3 in. (76 mm). For the typical 96 in. (2438 mm) precast concrete
culvert, the walls are approximately 9 in. (228 mm). What can I do to obtain
a near similar product with only 3 in. (76 mm) of wall thickness? Can
shotcrete be applied at higher compressive strengths, 10 psi (0.07 MPa), or is
it better to use fiber-reinforced shotcrete? The intent of the retrofit is to at
least obtain a 10-year service life to this temporary solution.

This is an engineering question, not an application question. Precast pipe is
sized for multiple uses and services. Depending on this service (depth of
cover or loads), creative reinforcing bar placement and higher compressive
strengths can reduce the wall thickness significantly. For example, success
has been realized using elliptical steel to reduce concrete section thickness.
Fiber reinforcement is secondary reinforcing and is not a suitable

replacement for reinforcing steel. Given the short life required of the culvert,
and assuming fairly equal loading on the circumference, a 3 to 4 in. (76 to
101 mm) section with judiciously placed reinforcing bar, and silica fume (8 to
10% of cement for higher strength up to 10,000 psi (69 MPa)]) would be
sufficient. The resulting culverts life would probably be much longer than 10
years. In the end, an engineering call should be made, but the material will

Question 91:
Is it feasible and economical to construct floodwalls approximately 5 ft. (1.5
m) high with shotcrete?

Yes, it is feasible and economical to construct structural walls such as a 5 ft.
(1.5 m) high floodwall. Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete and has
similar, if not identical, properties placement. As you can imagine,
shotcrete needs to be shot against something such as a one-sided form,
gabion baskets, earth, expanded metal lath, or just about any structurally
sound thing you can think of. The economy of the system is dependent upon
the site conditions and the ingenuity of the contractor. An example of a
similar structure is on the east side of I-880, south of Dixon Landing Road in
Milpitas, CA. This project, a flood control channel, involved trapezoidal
channel sections, vertical wall sections, and a combination of sloped walls
with a vertical extension. If you have further interest, you should contact an
organization with experience in this area. An excellent source is the directory
of Corporate Members in the ASA Buyers Guide.

Question 92:
I am a pool builder who favors dry-mix shotcrete. I have a project requiring:
a) cast-in-place concrete retaining walls, where there will be exposed
downhill faces (that are not necessarily meant to be seen). Should my
shotcrete contractor be able to finish the exposed face in some sort of
reasonable finished appearance? and b) placing a pool house foundation

(about 4 ft. [1.2 m] high). Would I be able to shoot these? I am thinking not
because there is no place for the rebound to go.

a) Shotcrete can be finished in a wide variety of ways. It can be left. with
anywhere from a very rough to a very smooth finish and a huge variety of
other finishes. We suggest you visit ASAs Web site, click on the tab for
Shotcrete magazine, and search the previous articles for finishes and
swimming pools. You will find a lot of photos of great-looking walls. Not all
shotcrete contractors are proficient in providing these attractive finishes. You
need to discuss this with your current shotcrete contractor and/or interview
other shotcrete contractors to make sure the chosen contractor can provide
what you are looking for. We also suggest you look at work these contractors
have previously completed. You can also locate contractors online at ASAs
Buyers Guide,\BuyersGuide. b) If the pool house
foundation is a footing trenched into the ground 4 ft. (1.2 m) deep, dry-mix
shotcrete would not be a good solution. If the foundation is 4 ft. (1.2 m)
above grade, then it could be done with shotcrete against a one-sided form.
This would be considered structural shotcrete and not all shotcrete
contractors are qualified to place shotcrete for structural walls. Again, we
suggest you ensure the chosen contractor is qualified to do the work.

Question 93:
Our client has a retaining wall that has experienced movement in the precast
concrete panels and has asked us to research a product that could be applied
to give a smooth look to the retaining wall. Is shotcrete a possible option? I
would also like information on the recycled content of shotcrete.

Shotcrete is basically concrete that is pneumatically applied. Shotcrete can
be used as an overlay for an existing wall to provide structural strengthening
and a smooth look. Again, we suggest that you visit ASAs Web site and
search previous Shotcrete magazine articles for finishes. Before the shotcrete
is applied, the wall must be stabilized from any anticipated future
movement. Relatively thin layers of shotcrete or concrete will not withstand
future wall movements without distress and cracking. The recycled content
of most shotcrete mixtures is limited to the substitution of fly ash or other

pozzolans for a percentage of the cement in the mixture. To properly place

shotcrete, this substitution is generally limited to approximately 25% of the
cement content.

Question 94:
We recently stained a shotcrete wall. we placed the staining on the
wall, the stain came out in different shades across the wall, in effect bring
out the different curing of the concrete. What can be done to eliminate this

It is not unusual to have variations in the tone of color for shotcrete or
concrete walls that have been stained due to variation of the texture or
density of the surface being stained. An acid-based stain typically results in
more consistent shading. When anticipating that a wall will be stained, extra
care needs to be taken in the curing process. It is generally recommended
that walls to be stained should be water-cured to avoid any interaction
between a curing compound and the stain material. If a curing compound is
used, it must be completely removed prior to applying the stain material.
Consult the stain supplier for more information.

Question 95:
I have a seawall with a Gunite (dry-mix shotcrete) outer layer. The Gunite
layer has cracked in multiple locations on the seawall resulting from years of
exposure to the harsh environment. The original Gunite was not part of a soil
nail system. I am considering a re-coat of shotcrete probably 3 to 4 in. (76 to
100 mm) thick with wire mesh and L-anchors on a 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 to 0.9 m)
grid. I know the importance of surface treatment for bonding, etc., but I am
not sure if I should remove the original Gunite layer (which is still sound in
some places) or apply the re-coat. The new overlay needs to be structurally
effective. I know that a soil nail system is the most dependable solution, but
cost is a major concern. Do you have any suggestions?

The new shotcrete layer can be added to the existing shotcrete or installed the existing shotcrete is removed. The decision to remove or not
remove the existing shotcrete is beyond the scope of what we can comment
on. If the existing shotcrete is left. in place and overlayed, it should be
thoroughly cleaned and roughened to create a good bonding surface.
Because this is in a marine environment and you are considering the use of
wire mesh, you need to make the new layer thick enough to have sufficient
cover on the reinforcing steel. Alternately you could consider the use of fiberreinforced shotcrete and silica-fume-enhanced fibrous shotcrete. Please note
that there are many types of fibers on the market. We recommend that you
review some of the Shotcrete magazine articles on fibrous shotcrete and on
shotcrete in a marine environment on the ASA Web site. We suggested two
papers for reference. The first is by Gilbride, Bremner, and Morgan on the
Port of Saint John, and the other is by Morgan on the use of fibers that cover
marine repairs. You mentioned using "L-anchors" at 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 to 0.9 m)
spacing. The use of grouted anchors with a reasonable embedment is quite
common, but the design of such anchors is again beyond the scope of what
we can advise.

Question 96:
We will be tiling a pool. The pools shotcrete walls and floor were placed
approximately 10 days ago. What is the earliest we can begin gauging the
pool walls and floors?

It is generally good practice to let the shotcrete cure for the full 28 days
before attempting to apply coatings or overlays. We would recommend you
get a recommendation on the cure time from the manufacturer of the
gauging product before doing the work.

Question 97:

We are considering the use of bentonite in a blind-side waterproofing

situation to waterproof a basement with shotcrete as the confinement
material. The basement has a 8.2 ft. (2.5 m) head of water permanently
against it (approximately 6.5 ft. [2 m] higher than the slab/shotcrete wall
construction joint).
In brief, we intend to construct as follows:
1. Pump the area dry;
2. Place secant piles, and then apply shotcrete over the piles. The
shotcrete will be troweled to accept the bentonite;
3. Apply the bentonite sheet membrane to the troweled shotcrete;
4. Tie two rows of reinforcing steel at 11.8 ft. (300 mm) centers in each
5. Shoot shotcrete through the steel onto the bentonite tanking; and
6. Turn the pumps off once the curing period is complete.
We have been advised this will be effective. Any advice on this system would
be greatly appreciated, as we believe using shotcrete rather than cast-inplace concrete as the confinement material would result in significant cost
savings. We know little, however, of the confinement properties of shotcrete.

The use of shotcrete over waterproofing in blind-side applications is not
uncommon; and, as you note, it is generally very efficient from a cost and
schedule standpoint. It should be noted that the shotcrete applicator
(shotcrete contractor) should be very experienced in high-quality structural
shotcrete work. The application of shotcrete in tunnels, canals, channels, or
swimming pools is very different from the application of shotcrete for
structural walls. The experienced structural shotcrete contractor will use
experienced and knowledgeable tradesmen including a certified ACI nozzle
There are many types of waterproofing material including sodium bentonite,
as you mentioned. Other membrane material and additives can be added to
the shotcrete mixture as delivered. It is not within our scope to comment on
the choice of these materials. You can contact the various manufactures or
engage a waterproofing professional to give you the proper advice. The ASA

online Buyers Guide is a great starting point in locating qualified


Question 98:
I have reviewed ACI 506R, "Guide to Shotcrete," and 506.5R, "Guide for
Specifying Underground Shotcrete," but was unable to find specific criteria
pertaining to shotcrete protection for reinforcing steel. Would the clear cover
then be based on ACI 318 Section 7.7.1 for cast-in-place concrete? For
underground structures, would 3 in. (76.2 mm) of clear cover from ground be

Shotcrete is concrete, and therefore if designing structures based on the ACI
318 Code, cover for conventional reinforcing steel should be those suggested
in ACI 318 for concrete against ground. If the shotcrete is a "temporary"
support, with further placement of "final" support, then these requirements
do not apply.

Question 99:
I have a question on cold weather shotcreting. I have heard that for shotcrete
operations, the ambient temperature has to be 40F (4.4C) and rising. I am
on a job, and the inspector said it only needs to be 35F (1.67C) and rising.
The high for the day is expected to be around 45F (7.2C), then fall back
into the high 20s F (4 to 1.67C). What would be your advice?

Shotcrete is concrete and the same rules apply with respect to cold weather
applications. Cold weather is defined in ACI 306R, "Cold Weather Concreting"
as "a period when, for more than 3 consecutive days, the following
conditions exist: 1) the average daily air temperature is less than 40F
(4.4C) and 2) the air temperature is not greater than 50F (10C) for more
than one-half of any 24-hour period." ACI 306R is an excellent reference that

provides recommendations for cold weather concrete placement and

protection. A copy of ACI 306R can be purchased online at ACIs Web site,, from the Bookstore and Publications tab. You can also
download articles regarding cold weather placement from ASAs Web site,
www.shotcrete.orgclick on "Shotcrete magazine," go to the article search
page, and type in "cold weather."

Question 100:
One of our clients has a 65.6 ft. (20 m) tall mechanically supported earth
(MSE) wall (to dump the ore from the mine into the crushers). The wall is
about 984.25 ft. (300 m) long and has approximately 30-degree slopes on
both ends, like a pyramid. These slopes have eroded over the last 8 years of
operation and some of the wall reinforcing is exposed. We want to stop the
erosion and stabilize the slopes. The instructions issued to the contractor
are: level the slopes; fill the voids; compact; apply shotcrete (maximum 1 in.
[25 mm]). The area in question is 6.6 x 65.6 x 131.2 ft. (2 x 20 x 40 m). Is
shotcrete application in this case appropriate? Can you forward information
on experts we could consult on?

Shotcrete is well suited to the application you have described. You need to
determine the characteristics that you want from the shotcrete (strength,
toughness, freeze-thaw durability) and include these in the specification. The
1 in. (25 mm) seems very thin for a long-term installation. Please be aware
that the material costs (in most cases) will be a small part of the total cost of
the installation. You should also make sure that you have a good specification
for surface preparation. If the existing surface is not properly prepared, the
added shotcrete will not bond well and the installation will not last very long.
The ASA Online Buyers Guide (www.Shotcrete/BuyersGuide) is an excellent
source to locate members within the field of shotcrete whom are listed as
shotcrete consultants.

Question 101:

Type CA and FA shotcrete are two classifications listed in ASTM C1480. What
is the application of these two types of shotcrete?

Type FA shotcrete uses a fine aggregate meeting the requirements of ASTM
C1436 Gradation #1. Type CA shotcrete uses a combined aggregate
gradation meeting the requirements of ASTM C1436 Gradation #2. The
decision on which type to use depends on the application, shotcrete
thickness, specification requirements, and perhaps the shotcrete equipment
to be used, that is, wet- or dry-process. For example, one may want to use
Type FA if using dry-process equipment and placing thin sections, or when a
smooth finished surface texture is required. For thicker sections, Type CA
shotcrete may provide the best properties for the application. The choice of
which to use depends on the application, equipment, and experience of the

Question 102:
How soon shooting a pool shell can formwork be removed? How soon
can tiling begin?

Vertical formwork can generally be removed the day following the shotcrete
installation. If the formwork is supporting a load like a soffit form, the form
should not be removed until the shotcrete has attained full strength such
that it can support the weight of the member.
Your question regarding the installation of the tile should be directed to a
professional who installs tile.

Question 103:
We have an approximately 9500 ft.2 (882.6 m2) pool that was built and
finished in midsummer. Four weeks later, the pool has developed "spider

web" cracking in the bottom. We need to have a compressive strength test

done. Our crew is on site now and is going to pull a 4 in. (101.6 mm) core
sample for testing. I need to know what procedure to follow and where to
send the sample for testing.

Consult with a local engineering firm that is qualified to develop a coring
plan, obtain cores, and perform testing in accordance with ASTM C42/C42M
or ASTM C1604/C1604M. Please refer to ASTM C42/C42M for further

Question 104:
We have demolished two radioactively contaminated buildings down to their
concrete slabs. One of the slabs has a concrete pit that is 26 ft. (8 m) deep.
The slabs have not been removed because the soil beneath the slabs is
contaminated and were using the slabs as a cover to protect the spread of
contamination in the soil until the soil remediation begins. Wed like to use
shotcrete to temporarily (up to 5 years) fix the contamination on the slabs
and the 5 ft. (1.5 m) area surrounding them. The questions we have are: 1)
Will shotcrete adhere to the concrete slabs and pit walls for up to 5 years
without special preparations? (Portions of the radioactively contaminated
concrete are painted and it is dirty from demolition activities); and 2) What is
the minimum thickness of shotcrete needed to last for 5 years in this type of
application? We do not want to use any wire or fabric mesh as it would
require personnel to work in a radiologically controlled environment to install
the material.

Shotcrete, like concrete, likely will not adhere to surfaces that are painted
and dirty from the demolition activities. There should be no issue to the time
durability. Shotcrete is pneumatically placed concrete and has great longterm durability characteristics if placed properly.Shotcrete has been installed
in many adverse environments at a thickness of 2 in. (50 mm) with fibrous
reinforcement and provided a long service life. Many irrigation districts line
their canals with shotcrete and it has provided decades of great service in
freeze-thaw exposures.

Question 105:
What is the recommended cure time for shotcrete pools and spas so that
shrinkage cracks in finished tile work can be avoided?

Concrete, when applied using the shotcrete process, or cast-in-place, needs
to cure for 7 days. Water is the best curing method (7 continuous days).
Curing compound can be applied, but the membrane film that is formed will
have to be removed by sand or water blasting (5000 psi [34.5 MPa] is
recommended) before the plaster or tile can be set (it will create a bond
breaker if not removed). There are curing compounds with a dissipating
resin, which means about 30 days in the sun, the material will break
down. In either case, it is a good practice to pressure wash the concrete
surface to remove the grit and dust out of the pours so that the plaster and
tile will have a good bond. This is normal, everyday concrete curing practice
that helps to prevent shrinkage cracks. The concrete being applied should
have a water-cement ratio (w/c) of 0.35 to 0.45. Having the w/c at 0.40 at a 2
to 3 in. (50 to 75 mm) slump will keep the water demand low to help
minimize the shrinkage. Wet-fogging freshly placed concrete before the
curing process begins will also help prevent shrinkage cracks.

Question 106:
We are designing underground support for a hydropower tunnel. I want to
know whether wire mesh-reinforced shotcrete or steel fiber-reinforced
shotcrete will be better and more economical. What are the advantages and
disadvantages of both of these types of reinforcement if used for supporting
a tunnel for hydropower? Also, for slope protection work, which type of
shotcrete is better in terms of reliability, durability, and cost?

There are really two questions here: 1) Underground fiber-reinforced versus
mesh reinforced; and 2) slope protection fiber reinforced versus mesh

1. Underground fiber reinforced versus mesh reinforced: it is not clear

what the alternatives are that you are considering, but sprayed
concrete has a good, solid track record for ground support. If it is a
simple comparison of steel mesh versus steel fiber reinforcement, then
Wire mesh and bolts have a longer history and are simple to design as
a rigid structure. To install mesh and bolts, however, requires working
under unsupported ground. Mechanized spraying of concrete is done
with the operator under supported ground and therefore is intrinsically
safer.The design of fiber-reinforced sprayed concrete as ground support
is approached differently. The sprayed concrete is allowed to deform to
a certain extent before coming to rest with the ground forces finding a
new equilibrium. The extent of this deformation depends on the energy
absorption of the sprayed concrete structure, which is provided for by
the fibers.Steel fiber-reinforced sprayed concrete is by far faster to
place and therefore has economic benefits. As the fibers are
discontinuous, there is merit in considering this structure less
susceptible to corrosion and consequential durability issues. We
recommend consulting ACI 506.1R and ACI 506.5R.
2. Slope protection fiber reinforced versus mesh reinforced: for slope
protection, both fiber-reinforced and wire-mesh-reinforced shotcrete
work well and are durable, reliable, and cost effective if done properly.
Care must be taken with wire mesh reinforcing to ensure that it is
maintained in the middle of the section and not on the ground where it
is not effective. Wire mesh can also be difficult to install on an irregular
surface and require more shotcrete material to cover the area and the
mesh. The wire mesh can be an asset to the installer in providing a
grid to support a scaffold system. In many applications, the choice of
wire mesh or fibers should be left. to the installer with the engineer
specifying the minimum requirement for each.

Question 107:
We are repairing a culvert in Dallas, TX. The concrete wall of the structure is
prematurely disintegrating. We are considering a process to temporarily
support the ceiling, remove the wall, place a form on one side, and use
shotcrete to replace the wall. Does this sound like a reasonable use for
shotcrete? What kind of specifications should be used?

Yes, this sounds like a good use of the shotcrete process. Your sequence
sounds like a good plan. A sample Structural Shotcrete Specification is
available from the Shotcrete magazine archive on the ASA Web site

Question 108:
Were looking at adding approximately 4 in. (100 mm) of shotcrete to an
existing 8 in. (200 mm) wall to meet new load requirements. Whats the
minimum cover between the reinforcement and existing wall for proper
encapsulation of the reinforcement?

A minimum clearance for the reinforcment off the existing surface should be
0.75 in. (19 mm) or one bar diameter, whichever is greater, to allow a good
flow of material around the reinforcing steel.

Question 109:
I am working on a water feature formed out of cast-in-place reinforced
concrete with a hot-fluid-applied waterproofing system over the concrete. To
protect the waterproofing, we plan to install shotcrete over it. What minimum
thickness of shotcrete is required? Would welded wire fabric or fiber mesh be
required as well?

In general, we would recommend a minimum of 2 in. (50 mm) of shotcrete.
Either fibers or wire mesh or both should be used in this application. Please
note that there are different types of synthetic fibers (microsynthetic and
macrosynthetic). Refer to ACI 506.1R for information on fiber-reinforced

If the surfaces are steep or vertical, wire mesh should be used, but provisions
need to be included to stabilize the wire mesh. This would likely require
attachment points through the waterproofing system.

Question 110:
Can a shotcrete mixture be designed using crushed washed sand instead of
natural washed sand?

The grading of fine aggregates, natural or manufactured, should be in
compliance with the combined aggregate gradations in ACI 506R or ASTM
C1436. Using crushed washed sand will be more difficult than using natural
washed sand due to the more angular particle shapes. Due to the more
angular particles, crushed sand will likely require a higher paste content to
successfully convey it through the shotcrete hose.

Question 111:
We are proposing a project that will use shotcrete on an existing metal bin
wall to match recently constructed soil nail walls with shotcrete facing. What
is the proper way to prepare the bin-wall surface? Also, what type of
reinforcement would you recommend and what is the suggested method of
attaching the reinforcement to the bin wall?

The surface should be cleaned using a high-pressure water blaster or
sandblasting to remove any loose material and rust. If the metal bin material
is thick enough, you might want to consider welding metal studs or nuts to
the bin to secure the reinforcing steel or mesh. The amount and type of
reinforcement is beyond the scope of our organization and we suggest
getting guidance from a qualified engineer. You may gain some insight from
the design of the reinforcing used in the soil nail walls.

Question 112:
I am working on an existing slope with a ratio of 3:1 (horizontal:vertical) and
a total height of 6 ft. (1.8 m). The slope has been surfaced with asphalt
concrete. Will shotcrete adhere to the asphalt concrete surface, or should the
asphalt concrete be removed prior to applying shotcrete?

Shotcrete will adhere to properly prepared asphalt concrete. Shotcrete bond
is generally related to the preparation of the surface that you want to bond
with. If the surface is dirty, the shotcrete will not bond very well.

Question 113:
Our current project is a pier with severe corrosion of reinforcement and
obvious spalls. The work will all be overhead with the surface 18 in. (457
mm) above the mean tide level and, for a variety of reasons, dry-mix is not
an option. We are looking for a good, dense, wet-mix design for saltwater
marine exposure. Compressive strengths need to be in the mid-range of
7000 to 8000 psi (48.3 to 55.2 MPa).

For a potentially suitable wet-mix shotcrete mixture design for marine
structure repair, go to the ASA Web site ( Click on
Shotcrete magazine and search for "Shotcrete Classics: Deterioration and
Rehabilitation of Berth Faces in Tidal Zones at the Port of Saint John." This
mixture design worked well for over 1.2 miles (2 km) of ship berth face repair
over a 10-year period. Note: Because of high freezing-and-thawing exposure,
the shotcrete was required to be air entrained. While the original mixture
design called for 7% air content as shot, it was subsequently modified to
require an air content of 7 to 10% as batched (at the point of discharge into
the shotcrete pump) and an air content of 5 1.5% as shot (into an air
pressure meter base). Such shotcrete has provided good freezing-andthawing resistance. You should be aware that your local materials (coarse

and fine aggregates and cement) may have different properties in the
concrete mixture, however, as compared to the mixture discussed in the
article. It is recommended that a local engineer, testing laboratory, or
concrete supplier be retained to develop a concrete mixture using local
materials that meets the performance requirements of the mixture design
mentioned in the article. Also, test panels constructed with the mixture,
nozzle men, and equipment to be used in the shotcreting are highly
recommended to verify the strength performance of the shotcrete.

Question 114:
We are currently working on a Request for Deviation to use shotcrete in lieu
of cast-in-place concrete. The engineer is requesting additional
information/confirmation. The application locations are structural, using No. 6
and No. 8 reinforcing bars on 1.5 ft. (0.5 m) thick walls approximately 40 ft.
(12.2 m) high. The engineers comments refer to detailing construction
joints, curing, and plastic shrinkage gaps (work done in July). We have also
requested a slump to be reduced to 2 1 in. (51 25 mm) and the use of
3/8 in. (9.5 mm) aggregate. What methods would you suggest to address
each issue?

The project as described sounds very feasible for a structural shotcrete
application. As we understand, the concerns are:
1. Detailing construction jointsPlease refer to ACI 506R, "Guide to
Shotcrete," Paragraph 5.7, Joints. Typically, shotcrete joints are beveled
to increase the surface area of the bonding surface and reduce the
likelihood of trapping rebound. Other considerations for construction
joints should follow the principles of cast-in-place concrete. Shotcrete is
a method of placing concrete.
2. CuringShotcrete is concrete consisting of smaller aggregates and
generally higher cement content. Good curing practices should be
followed as they should be with cast-in-place concrete. Considerations
should include the temperature and humidity when evaluating a curing
program. High temperatures with low humidity will require significantly
more effort than high temperature with high humidity. The key is to
ensure that sufficient moisture is available to hydrate the cement
during the curing period.

3. Plastic shrinkage gaps or crackingThe shrinkage characteristics of

shotcrete are similar to cast-in-place concrete. Shotcrete is composed
of smaller particles and higher cement but generally places at a low
water-cement ratio (w/c) or less than 0.45. Shotcrete is somewhat
more prone to plastic shrinkage cracking due to the surface not being
protected by a form in its early stages. If the finished surface is
subjected to high ambient temperatures, low humidity, or high winds,
it will tend to dry quickly on the surface and exhibit more plastic
shrinkage cracking. In these environmental conditions, fogging of the
exposed shotcrete surfaces soon shotcreting may help to reduce
or eliminate the plastic shrinkage cracks. Plastic shrinkage cracks are
generally superficial in nature and can be repaired if necessary.
4. Slump to be reduced to 2 1 in. (51 25 mm)This is a good range if
measured and treated properly. It is important to ensure that the
shotcrete material has enough slump at the nozzle to properly
encapsulate the reinforcing steel and is stiff enough to stay in place
without sloughing or sagging. The slump at the nozzle is far more
relevant than the slump at the pump.
The important factors influenced by slump are maintaining the proper watercementitious material ratio (w/cm) and consistency at the nozzle to ensure
good placement. The most important consideration is to ensure that you
have an experienced shotcrete contractor who has a history of success with
similar projects with respect to the size and complexity of the installation.
You can locate shotcrete contractors on the ASA online Buyers Guide at

Question 115:
I will be placing a large amount of concrete via the shotcreting process onto
a river bed. There are minimal forces and the only reason I need reinforcing
is for temperature and shrinkage. If I add fibers to the mixture design, what
percent of steel will I still need (if any) or, in other words, how much fiber do I
need to include so that any other form of mesh or reinforcing bar is not
required to meet temperature and shrinkage requirements? In addition, will
too much fiber have any unwanted effects?


Fibers are typically added to shotcrete linings for canals, channels, and other
water structures in lieu of conventional reinforcing, such as welded wire
reinforcement (WWR). For your "large amount of concrete via the shotcreting
process," we assume that you are using the wet-mix shotcrete process.
Temperature/shrinkage reinforcement is typically placed in thin sections
governed by the structural concrete provisions of ACI 318 at a rate of 0.15 to
0.18%. Please be aware that if the lining is intended to be liquid-tight and
has movement joints spaced at greater than 40 ft. (12 m) apart, a
reinforcement ratio of at least 0.50% is recommended by ACI 350 for
concrete liquid-containing structures. Assuming that the section does not
need to be liquid-tight and using the ACI 318 requirements, lets consider the
tensile capacity of a conventionally reinforced section and provide an equal
or greater tensile capacity with fibers. Assuming a 3 in. (75 mm) thick lining
with an assumed 28-day compressive strength of 4000 psi (28 MPa), using a
WWR of 6 x 6 x W2.9/W2.9 in this section provides a percentage of steel of
0.161% and a tensile capacity of 3770 lb/ft. (5610 kg/m). (Asfy = 0.058
in.2/ft. [0.12 mm] x 65,000 psi [448 MPa] = 3770 lb/ft. [5610 kg/m].)
Then, we assume that the direct tensile strength is 75% of the flexural
strength (modulus of rupture [MOR]). For 3770 lb/ft. (5610 kg/m) in a section
3 x 12 in. (75 x 300 mm), we have 3770/(12 3) = 105 psi (0.72 MPa). Then,
we need an average residual strength (ARS) (ASTM C1399) of 105/0.75 =
139.6 psi (0.963 MPa) = 140 psi (0.965 MPa).
Using a macrosynthetic fiber, one can achieve these results using 4 to 5
lb/yd3 (2.4 to 3.0 kg/m3) in wet-process shotcrete. Fiber manufacturers will
provide exact dosages to meet the ARS requirements.
Using steel fibers, approximately 43 lb/yd3 (25.5 kg/m3) will provide an
equivalent area of steel to the WWR of 6 x 6 x W2.9/W2.9 in a 3 in. (75 mm)
thick concrete section. Using steel fibers, however, may require a flash coat
to cover the fibers that will protrude and rust over time. The corrosion of the
fibers will only reach a carbonation depth of 0.05 to 0.10 in. (1 to 2 mm) but
may result in staining the lining.
These calculations assume a thickness and strength. You must adjust for
your conditions.

Question 116:

I am searching for a sample specification that calls for the use of a polymermodified cement mortar in lieu of one that does not have the polymer
additive. My thought is that this material would be more durable. I am also
wondering if it would have greater bond to the old substrate.

Most of the industry does not endorse the use of polymer-modified additive
in shotcrete. Please refer to ACI RAP Bulletin 12 and ACI 506R for further
information and insight from the American Concrete Institute (ACI) at Shotcrete applied by competent contractors to properly
prepared surfaces exhibits excellent bond characteristics to the substrate.
Additionally, a good shotcrete mixture that is properly applied will yield a
durability equal to or superior to cast concrete. There are many examples

Question 117:
Are there any guidelines/regulations as to how close in proximity the
installer/nozzle person can be to the receiving surface? I have a chimney job
(existing chimney repair) that has an opening of 3.5 x 3.5 ft. (1.1 x 1.1 m)
and the interior is calling for a Gunite (dry-mix) liner to be installed. Is there
an issue with splash-back or any other concern with using Gunite in such a
confined space?

When gunning in tight areas, you have to allow for the bend in the hose and
the length of the nozzle, which will require at least 2 to 2.5 ft. (0.6 to 0.8 m).
An area 3.5 ft. (1.1 m) wide is a very tight area to gun in, but it can be done.
In areas that restricted, its not possible to always maintain a 90-degree
shooting angle, so you will get much more rebound from the deflection when
shooting at less than desirable angles. Also, with the dry process, you have
to reduce the air pressure and volume to keep from blowing the material off
the walls. Ideally, you would like the nozzle to be at least 3.5 to 5 ft. (1.1 to
1.5 m) from the receiving surface, depending on the nozzle you use. For a
tight area like you are proposing, in addition to reducing the air pressure and
running it slowly, we would recommend using a double-bubble nozzle, as it
has a wider spray pattern, allowing the nozzle man to be closer to the

receiving surface and still get an adequate spray pattern. A double-bubble

nozzle is also flexible, which will help in extremely tight areas. You can locate
organizations that sell a range of nozzles by visiting the ASA Online Buyers

Question 118:
I would like to add fibers to a shotcrete mixture. Many research articles
discuss steel fibers and sometimes synthetic. Id like to consider glass or
synthetic fibers because the exterior wall will be visible and I dont want to
see the corroding steel fibers toward the surface of the concrete. What are
the pros/cons of glass fibers versus steel fibers and how much should I add
to the mixture design to achieve a product that can be submerged in water
and experience as few cracks as possible? Is there reference material for
these questions?

Refer to ACI 506.1R-08, "Guide to Fiber-Reinforced Shotcrete," at for guidance on fiber types and dosages. Glass fibers are
seldom (if ever) used in shotcrete because they tend to break under the high
velocity required for shotcrete. Steel or macrosynthetic fibers should be used
at about 0.4 to 0.5 volume percent to control hardened shotcrete cracking,
50 to 66 lb/yd3 (30 to 39 kg/m3) for steel (specific gravity (SG) of 7.85), and
6 to 7.5 lb/yd3 (3.6 to 4.5 kg/m3) for macrosynthetic polypropylene (SG of
0.91). Fiber suppliers can provide more technical guidance for their products.
You can locate fiber suppliers by visiting the ASA Online Buyers Guide at

Question 119:
I have been in the swimming pool industry for 30 years and I deal with a lot
of different engineers on my commercial projects who want a wet test to
verify water tightness before the finish is applied to the pool. In my
experience, air-entrained shotcrete tends to be porous and leak. Are there

any engineering specifications that state that air-entrained shotcrete is

porous and will leak if the surface is not trowel-finished?

Properly added and mixed air-entraining admixture in concrete will actually
reduce the permeability of concrete. This is because the small, well-formed
air bubbles from air-entraining admixtures are not interconnected as larger,
entrapped air bubbles may be in non-air-entrained concrete. Thus, the
reported higher permeability of the air-entrained shotcrete is not a material
flaw but must be from poor shotcrete application. Air entraining from 4 to 7%
air is advantageous for enhanced resistance to the freezing-and-thawing
cycles of saturated concrete and should be specified by the designer in areas
subject to significant numbers of freezing-and-thawing cycles annually. The
reported high permeability and resultant failure to pass a water-tightness
test could be investigated by taking cores of the "porous" material and
conducting a petrographic analysis of the core. Based on the reported
results, I strongly suspect that the in-place shotcrete has major issues with
sand pockets, overspray, and rebound.

Question 120:
We recently contracted with a shotcrete company to install a shotcrete
structure for a swimming pool. the pool was completed and filled with
water, rust stains began emerging through the plaster surface. When we
broke out a section of the pool structure, we found that there was little to no
coverage of shotcrete over the steel reinforcement. The shotcrete companys
excuse is that they shot the pool to maintain the desired finished depths and
widths and there was little to no coverage because the steel was set too high
(even if that were the case, they never alerted anyone during the
installation). This sounds like an excuse to me. Shouldnt the shotcrete
company we hired make sure that the concrete coverage met or exceeded
what the structural engineer called for? Is there any credibility to their
explanation of why they didnt cover the reinforcing bar enough? What is the
standard practice for shotcrete installation?

In short, the shotcrete contractor is responsible for maintaining proper cover
over the reinforcing steel. The reinforcing bar installer should set the steel in

the proper location for achieving the required cover corresponding to the
final desired shape. If the shotcrete contractor finds that he cannot maintain
proper cover with the reinforcing as placed, however, he needs to
communicate to the designer/owner/general contractor that the reinforcing
needs to be fixed before he shoots the section in place. There is no excuse
for placing shotcrete with less than the specified cover, as shooting it with
reduced cover will obviously create a section that has much less durability
than intended by the designer.

Question 121:
What is the impact force on formwork resulting from a shotcrete application?
I am designing the formwork for a wall to be placed via shotcrete and need
to know the forces imposed on the wall forms.

In structural applications, most of the impact force from nozzling shotcrete is
directed toward compacting the shotcrete in place rather than against the
formwork. This was the subject of a study conducted by Marc Jolin of Laval
University, Quebec City, QC, Canada, and reported in the Fall 2007 issue of
Shotcrete magazine. There is virtually no hydrostatic pressure on the forms
from the application using the shotcrete process. A copy of this study can be

Question 122:
Can shotcrete be applied on wet shale rock? How well does shotcrete bond to

Shotcrete is routinely used to seal shale excavations. It is typically
done as soon as possible the excavation because the shale will
deteriorate when exposed to the air. When shotcreting, it is considered good

practice to wet the receiving surface prior to gunning to create a saturated

surface-dry (SSD) condition so the substrate will not draw moisture from the
newly placed shotcrete. A good SSD condition is where the surface is wet
without any standing water on it. Gunning over wet shale should not be a
problem unless the water seeping from the shale is moving. If that is the
case, we would recommend installing weep holes with plastic pipe at the
locations where the water is seeping from and using an accelerator to flashset the material immediately around the weep-hole pipe. It is also a good
idea to install weep holes at regular intervals along the excavation or
exposed hillside. It is important to use a qualified shotcrete subcontractor for
this or any high-quality shotcrete installation. A qualified shotcrete contractor
will use ACI-certified nozzle men and should provide you with a rsum of
similar, successfully installed projects, along with the up-to-date contact
information of representatives from the owners or engineers involved in
those projects. The ASA Buyers Guide ( is an excellent source of shotcrete

Question 123:
We are removing up to 0.75 in. (19 mm) of the existing scaled concrete on a
fire-damaged concrete wall. The architect has asked if shotcrete is applicable
for a vertical 0.75 in. (19 mm) application. Also, the walls are circular and the
working distance from the wall is no more than 36 in. (0.9 m). Is this enough
room to apply shotcrete?

Yes, shotcrete can be applied in a 36 in. (0.9 m) area. Keep in mind, however,
that its difficult to get as nice a gunning pattern as you would like when you
are that close to the receiving surface. When you cannot back off from the
wall, there is a tendency for a more irregular gunning surface, which would
require more cutting and screeding to get an aesthetically pleasing result.

Question 124:

I would like advice about spraying shotcrete on the exterior walls of a house I
am building. In constructing the exterior walls of the house, I plan to shoot
approximately 0.75 in. (19 mm) on Day 1 and shoot 1.25 in. (31 mm) on Day
2 for 2 in. (50 mm) thick walls. I have hung 14-gauge wire mesh spaced at 1
in. (25 mm) over all the walls and am planning to use a 3000 psi (20.7 MPa)
mixture. I am greatly concerned about cracking. Is my planned technique a
good way to mitigate cracking or are there better approaches? Should I
consider upping the strength of the concrete?

In structural applications, most of the impact force from nozzling shotcrete is
directed toward compacting the shotcrete in place rather than against the
formwork. This was the subject of a study conducted by Marc Jolin of Laval
University, Quebec City, QC, Canada, and reported in the Fall 2008 issue of
Shotcrete magazine. There is virtually no hydrostatic pressure on the forms
from the application using the shotcrete process. A copy of this study can be
viewed on the ASA WebIt is fine to place shotcrete in two layers on 2
consecutive days, although simply placing two layers on 2 consecutive days
wont prevent long-term drying shrinkage cracking. For the best bond, the
surface of the shotcrete on Day 1 should be given a rough broom finish to
provide a rough texture for the Day 2 shotcrete to bond to. On Day 2, before
shooting, wet the surface of the Day 1 shotcrete to prevent a hot, dry surface
from absorbing water from the fresh shotcrete. Please note that the surface
needs to be dampened but allowed to dry to an SSD condition. A surface that
is too wet can inhibit good bonding. It is essential to moist-cure the shotcrete
as soon as it has finally set to help reduce early-age shrinkage cracking. On a
hot, windy day, you may need to fog the surface soon placement with
a pressure washer using a fogging nozzle to reduce the rapid evaporation of
water from the surface of the shotcrete. Wet curing with a wetted burlap
overlay or drip system for at least 3 days (preferably 7 days) is
recommended to help reduce the potential for longer-term drying shrinkage
cracking. Using macrosynthetic fibers in the shotcrete mixture will also help
reduce early-age shrinkage cracking. Because you are in Florida, unless you
are shooting in the dead of winter, you may also want to consider using a
concrete mixture with up to 20 to 25% fly ash. This will slow down the
hydration of the cement and resultant set time to give you some more time
to finish the surface and get proper curing started. Fly ash also helps reduce
the concrete permeability and increases the long-term strength and is
generally less expensive than portland cement. If you use a concrete mixture
with silica fume (also called micro-silica), it will increase the water demand of
the mixture during hydration and has a greater tendency for early-age plastic
shrinkage cracks. Thus, if you use silica fume, you will need to pay close
attention to keep the surface wet through fogging and then wet curing as
soon as it is practical. As previously mentioned, a 2 x 2 or 3 x 3 in. (50 x 50

or 75 x 75 mm) wire mesh would be preferred to reduce congestion of the

reinforcement. Stay away from rolled mesh, as it is very difficult (even nearly
impossible) to get to lay flat. Sheets of welded wire mesh are recommended.
ASA recommends a minimum 28-day compressive strength for shotcrete of
4000 psi (27.6 MPa). A 3000 psi (20.7 MPa) mixture will have a higher watercement ratio (w/c); therefore, there is more water in the mixture, which will
significantly increase the potential for drying shrinkage cracking in the final
surface. A 4000 psi (27.6 MPa) mixture is easily achieved with current
portland cements and normal supplemental cementitious products such as
fly ash. Finally, you mentioned that you will be shooting the surface of a
house. You havent provided any details about what you are shooting the
shotcrete on, but the substrate must be rigid enough to not vibrate when
shotcrete hits the surface. If it is not rigid enough, the vibration of adjacent
areas of freshly shot plastic shotcrete could cause cracking. This would be
more of a problem in the Day 1 coat of shotcrete, but cracks that form in the
Day 1 shotcrete would create a weaker section and increase the likelihood of
mirrored cracking in the Day 2 layer. Again, please note: While it is
appropriate to wet down the Day 1 shotcrete prior to application of the Day 2
shotcrete, it is important to let the wetted Day 1 shotcrete dry back to an
SSD condition before application of the Day 2 shotcrete. If the Day 2
shotcrete is applied to a wet substrate (with liquid water on the surface), it
will fail to meet the specified 150 psi (1 MPa) bond pulloff strength
requirements for the project.

Question 125:
What are the requirements for selection of the shotcrete lift. height and delay
between successive layers? ACI 506R describes only a general approach.

Although some have tried, there are not and should not be specific
recommendations for lift. height or time between lift.s of layers. Shotcrete is
a method of placing concrete, and concrete properties vary with many
parameters, such as admixtures, ambient temperature, concrete
temperature, slump, and age of concrete, to name a few. The lift. height is
also influenced by the surface on which you are shooting (rough, porous,
smooth, dense, and so on); the orientation being applied (vertical, sloped, or
overhead); and the size and density of the reinforcing steel, if it is present.
Regardless of the period of time between lift.s or layers, the receiving
surface must be clean and moisture-conditioned to create a good bond

between lift.s or layers. As you can see, there are too many variables to spell
out recommended guidelines or rules of thumb for lift. heights or time
between lift.s or layers. The goal is to place the lift.s or layers in heights or
thicknesses that do not slough or sag. The time between lift.s or layers is the
time required for the initial lift. or layer to support the subsequent lift. of
layer. These decisions must be made on the job on a daily and hourly basis
by a properly trained and experienced nozzle man and shotcrete foreman.
These decisions may vary during the day to meet the current situation. It is
critical that the shotcrete is placed by a shotcrete contractor with trained
and experienced crews who is experienced and successful in the type of
work being installed.

Question 126:
We want to shotcrete a porous rock wall to stop water leakage out of a small
pool that is home to an endangered fish. The wall is quite rough and uneven.
The pool will be drained to do the work. How long should we allow the
concrete to cure before refilling the pool with water? Does this sound like a
good application for shotcrete?

This is a great application for shotcrete. Once drained, the existing surfaces
should be cleaned by water blasting or sandblasting to provide a good
bonding surface. The shotcrete can be submerged within a few hours or upon
reaching the final set (hardened). One factor to be concerned about is the
chemical reaction and alkalinity of the area around the shotcrete during the
curing period. A good solution would be to submerge the pool for a period of
at least a week, drain and waste the water, flush the shotcrete surfaces, refill
the pool, and test the pH before reintroducing the fish. This should eliminate
the danger of the alkalinity to the fish.

Question 127:
Can you provide any information or research on the sound absorption
performance of shotcrete?

We are not aware of any testing done specifically for the sound absorption
performance of shotcrete. Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete and,
once hardened, it should have similar parameters as cast concrete. With
shotcrete, one has the ability to use many different finishes, which might
influence the sound absorption characteristics. A smooth troweled shotcrete
wall would be the most similar to a formed cast-in-place wall. On the other
end of the spectrum, a nozzle-finished wall would likely absorb far more
sound. A recent design of a concert hall at a major university was to be built
with oval concrete or shotcrete perimeter walls covered with fabric curtains
for sound purposes. The ceiling was to be suspended nozzle-finished

Question 128:
We are rehabilitating a limestone-brick masonry storm sewer by lining it with
shotcrete. The sewer is approximately 7 ft. (2.1 m) tall with an arch ceiling
and walls that are 8 ft. (2.4 m) apart. The limestone surface is fairly rough,
but the brick portions are not. While the existing structure shows no signs of
needing to be reinforced for structural support, we are reinforcing to prolong
the service life of the culvert. Is there a recommended minimum shotcrete
thickness and reinforcement?

Shotcrete has been used to successfully rehabilitate sewers for over 50
The thickness to be used is an engineering issue and beyond the scope of
our association. We would recommend a 2 in. (50 mm) minimum thickness
reinforced with either polypropylene fibers or a light-gauge welded wire
reinforcement. The surfaces must be cleaned thoroughly to remove grease,
oils, and other substances deleterious to good bond. Bonding to brick is not a
Finish is another consideration. The added liner thickness will reduce the size
of the culvert. If capacity is not an issue, it is recommended to leave the new
shotcrete lining with a nozzle finish. If capacity might be a problem, then a
float or trowel-smooth finish may be necessary.

Question 129:
Is it possible to use a penetrating sealer, such as those used on driveways, to
make shotcrete repel moisture? If so, will the sealer improve the shotcretes
freezing-and-thawing performance?

It is possible to use a penetrating sealer on shotcrete in the same manner as
cast-in-place concrete. We are not aware of research on the durability of such
a sealer and do not know if it would enhance the freezing-and-thawing
characteristics. A high-quality shotcrete mixture that is properly placed will
exhibit excellent freezing-and-thawing characteristics with or without a

Question 130:
Oft.en, steel fiber-reinforced shotcrete (SFRS) linings are applied in
underground construction. In some areas of high tensile stresses, it is
necessary to use additional ordinary reinforcement (reinforcing bar/mesh). It
may be inefficient to switch to non-fibrous shotcrete for these regions. Are
the shadowing problems to be expected in that case (SFRS with additional
ordinary reinforcement) more severe and how can they be resolved?

It is not uncommon to encapsulate lattice girders or steel sets in fibrous
shotcrete. The skill of the nozzle man, the size and density of the reinforcing,
and the characteristics of the mixture and the accelerator are the most
important factors in achieving good encapsulation of reinforcing bar or these
more complicated applications around lattice girders or steel sets. With
welded-wire reinforcement, you should have a 4 x 4 in. (100 x 100 mm) or
greater spacing. With reinforcing bar, you should use the minimum diameter
possible at a minimum spacing of around 6 in. (150 mm). Preconstruction
mockups should be considered to prove the competency of the nozzle man

and the mixture. Please note that the best nozzle man cannot succeed
without a good, workable mixture.

Question 131:
We are currently working on a tunnel that will cross through a drinking water
protection zone in the alluvial aquifer. Do shotcrete technology and materials
exist that can be used on groundwater-sensitive areas?

Shotcrete is the same as concrete when evaluated as a material and its
exposure to potable water. In the U.S., many admixtures and cements for
concrete have been tested and certified to meet the NSF 61 standards for
materials exposed to potable water. In my experience, potable water stored
in concrete tanks with direct exposure to the concrete (no coatings) has not
exhibited any significant rise in alkalinity. Exposure of a tunnel in a
groundwater aquifer would seem to have much less contact area per volume
of water contained in the aquifer, such that any rise in alkalinity would be
miniscule. Because concrete in the U.S. is universally accepted for the
storage and transport of potable water, Id assume that the use of shotcrete
in your tunnel would be perfectly acceptable.

Question 132:
We are considering the use of shotcrete to line a 3600 ft. (1097 m) channel
that is approximately 15 to 20 ft. (4.5 to 6 m) wide. The purpose of the lining
is to cap impacted sediments in the channel bottom. What is the suitability of
shotcrete for this type of application, and can you provide a
conceptual/budgetary estimate for the implementation of this approach?

Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete and therefore the material has the
same basic characteristics of concrete. Shotcrete is oft.en used for canal,
channel, and ditch lining. It is important with shotcrete (concrete) that the

subgrade the material is placed over be compacted and stable. The

thickness, strength, and reinforcing needs to be designed and specified by a
professional engineer familiar with this type of structure or pavement. For
budget numbers, you should contact one of our contractor members, who
can be found in the Buyers Guide on the Web site at

Question 133:
We are currently placing a shotcrete wall in a tunnel. The wall has a
minimum thickness of 8.25 in. (210 mm) and is placed against secant piles.
Our specs called for a wet cure. To minimize shrinkage cracking, what is the
minimum amount of time to allow shotcrete placement before the wet
cure is applied?

There is a difficult balance between wet curing too early or too late. You
should not add water too early (before the material sets), as this would
increase the water-cement ratio (w/c) of the material on the surface. You also
do not want to add water during the finishing process, as this would also
work the water into the surface and increase the w/c at the surface. Good
practice would be to use an evaporative retardant, which generally also
serves as a finishing aid during the finishing process, and then get the wet
cure set up as soon as possible.

Question 134:
We are studying a repair to an existing large-diameter corrugated metal pipe.
The owner requires that the repair meet the fift.h edition of the AASHTO
LRFD Bridge Design Specifications with 2010 Interim Revisions. We want the
owner to consider shotcrete as opposed to installing a new carrier pipe. I
have pipe dimensions, depth, and so on, but need some help deciding if this
is practical.


Shotcrete has been used in many cases to repair, rehabilitate, and

strengthen pipes, culverts, and tunnels. It is not uncommon to use shotcrete
to strengthen a culvert under a highway or roadway section. Shotcrete is a
method of placing concrete at a high velocity. The shotcrete placed inside
the existing pipe can be designed for strengths from 4000 to 10,000 psi
(27.5 to 69 MPa), depending on the amount you are willing to spend on the
shotcrete products. We cannot speak to the acceptance by the governing
body, but it has been done successfully and oft.en in the past. It is vitally
important that the shotcrete contractor be competent and experienced in
installing the lining. Your specification should require evidence of similar
previously completed projects with current references.

Question 135:
We are constructing a new custom residence on the Gulf Coast of Texas using
a Monolite insulated concrete form (ICF) system. The ICF system is basically
a "sandwich" system with an expanded polystyrene (EPS) panel with a wire
cage and shotcrete on both sides. Because of the storm surge and high
humidity of the region, we are looking for a mixture formula for a waterproof
shotcrete for the exterior coating to help prevent moisture migration to the
interior. What can you suggest?

The insulation itself should provide a vapor barrier. Various additives can be
used with the shotcrete to improve its permeable properties, such as silica
fume or a commercial waterproofing additive. It is also not uncommon to use
a plaster coat over the shotcrete to provide improved water resistance and
an architectural finish. The density and uniformity of the shotcrete can be
influenced by the competency of the shotcrete applicator. It is always
advisable to engage a competent and experienced shotcrete contractor to
ensure the best possible results. You can search for a contractor with
submit a bid request through our Online Bid Submittal Tool at

Question 136:
When replacing welded-wire reinforcement with micro- or macro-synthetic or
steel fibers, how is the "equivalent dosage" of fibers determined?

The equivalent dosage of fibers to replace embedded steel reinforcement
needs to be evaluated by the design engineer for the specific project or
application. Guidance for the designer is available in ACI 506R-05, "Guide to
Shotcrete," and ACI 506.1R-08, "Guide to Fiber-Reinforced Shotcrete."

Question 137:
Is there a recognized standard addressing pass/fail criteria for abrasion
testing of cement mortar shotcrete-lined corrugated steel pipe?

We are not aware of any recognized standard for abrasion testing or
acceptance specifically for this application. ASTM International has several
abrasion tests for concrete and mortar that include:

ASTM C418-05, "Standard Test Method for Abrasion Resistance of

Concrete by Sandblasting";

ASTM C779/C779M-05(2010), "Standard Test Method for Abrasion

Resistance of Horizontal Concrete Surfaces";

ASTM C944/C944M-99(2005)e1, "Standard Test Method for Abrasion

Resistance of Concrete or Mortar Surfaces by the Rotating-Cutter
Method"; and

ASTM C1138M-05(2010)e1, "Standard Test

Resistance of Concrete (Underwater Method)."




Also, ACI 350-06, "Code Requirements for Environmental Concrete

Structures," Section 4.6, has requirements for protection against erosion.

Question 138:
We are considering a shotcrete application over a weathered rock outcrop
(consisting of sandstone, siltstone, and clay stone) in our backyard to
prevent further erosion and unstable conditions. Does the outcrop need to be
prepared as described in your previous Shotcrete FAQs (loose material
removed, saturated surface-dry [SSD]) if a mesh that is anchored to the
outcrop will be used? Also, will the shotcrete need to have fibers in the
mixture? Do we need joints?

It is always a good practice to scale off the loose material from the rock face,
particularly when dealing with shale or clay stone, as they degrade when
exposed to the air. In addition to scaling the rock face, it should be washed
down with air and water prior to gunning. As for expansion joints, they are
not normally used when gunning over natural rock. The shotcrete is typically
gunned continuously across the hillside without any expansion joints, with a
natural gun finish following the natural contours of the rock face. With an
anchored mesh in place, the use of fibers is not necessary. In many
applications, fibers can be used in place of or in addition to mesh.

Question 139:
I am considering the use of shotcrete as an alternative to grouted riprap for
slope stabilization. The project involves a basin with varying slopes and
easily erodible soils. Water will cascade down the side slopes. I was going to
specify shotcrete with welded-wire reinforcement but am now considering
fiber-reinforced shotcrete. Is fiber-reinforced shotcrete the better choice and,
if so, is 3 in. (76 mm) thickness sufficient?

Structurally, using proper quantities of either welded wire or fibers should
work well. If fibers are used, they should be specified by an engineer who has
the experience to specify the type of fiber and either performance
requirements or dosage levels. The advantage of fibers is that they are
uniformly distributed through the section, whereas the welded-wire

reinforcement can be difficult to maintain in the proper location within the

pavement section. The proper thickness should also be determined by a
qualified engineer, as soil and groundwater pressures can impact the
required thickness.

Question 140:
Can shotcrete be used to repair a wall made of cement and fly ash? If so,
should the wall be prepared for the shotcrete application?

Structurally sound concrete that contains up to 20% fly ash in the total
cementitious materials should not present any problems for subsequent
bonding of shotcrete. Concrete with fly ash contents up to 30% have been
used in recent years without any reported problems with strength and bond.
Although concrete mixtures with higher levels of fly ash (up to 55%) have
been proposed, we dont have direct experience with their bonding
characteristics. We suspect it would be fine as long as the base concrete
develops adequate compressive and tensile strength. This could be
confirmed by a simple bond strength test of shotcrete on the concrete
substrate in question.
The existing surface needs to be properly prepared, removing all soft. or
deteriorated material back to sound concrete. For extensive defects in the
existing concrete, chipping hammers may be required. For removal of light
surface carbonation or laitance, a strong, high-pressure water blast or
sand/bead blasting may be adequate. Depending on the thickness of the
shotcrete, reinforcing may be required in the overlay. Specific details of the
repair are best developed by an engineer experienced in shotcrete repair.

Question 141:
Is shotcrete used as a canal liner?


Shotcrete has been used for canal lining throughout the United States. The
Bureau of Reclamation published a study on Canal Lining Test Sections
constructed in the Bend, OR, area and studies the durability at 5 and 10
years. Shotcrete is a very viable means of placing canal linings. Basically,
shotcrete is a method of placing concrete. Care should be taken to ensure
that the mixture is designed to withstand the local environmental conditions,
such as using air-entraining admixtures to ensure durability due to exposure
to freezing and thawing. ACI 506R-05, "Guide to Shotcrete," contains a lot of
useful information in evaluating and using shotcrete in a variety of
applications, including canal linings. If liquid-tightness and long-term
durability of the canal lining are important, provisions of ACI 350/350R-06,
"Code Requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures and
Commentary," should also be considered in the design of canal lining
reinforcement, cover, and joints.

Question 142:
Are there tolerance standards for the use of shotcrete in pool construction?
For example, in regard to the pool depth, what is the accepted variation from
the depth specified?

We are not aware of specific tolerances for shotcrete in swimming pools.
Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete and the cover over reinforcing
steel should be the same as that for cast concrete. With respect to the depth
of the pool, this would be a building code issue, not a shotcrete issue.

Question 143:
An artist we have commissioned will be using Gunite for the creation of a
large-scale geode-inspired sculpture. There is some concern from the
community about vandalism, specifically graffiti. Do you recommend sealing
or applying anti-graffiti coating to Gunite? If so, what brand of sealant or
coating do you recommend?

The ability to clean graffiti from the surface will, to some extent, depend on
the finish texture. A rough texture will be difficult to coat successfully with a
sealer or paint. Commercially available anti-graffiti paints have been used
very successfully on shotcrete tanks with relatively smooth float finishes. We
do not have any recommendations on the brand of sealer or coating.

Question 144:
In placing shotcrete in layers, what is the recommended thickness of each

Appropriate thickness of the shotcrete layers is impossible to generalize
because it depends on many factors, including:
1. The type of shotcrete (wet- or dry-mix);
2. The texture and stiffness of the receiving surface;
3. The physical properties of the fresh concrete used, including a) w/cm
ratio; b) slump; c) use of accelerator; d) type of supplementary
cementitious materials used in the mixture (micro-silica, fly ash, and
slag); e) fibers used in the mixture; and f) mixture temperature;
4. Weather conditionsIs it hot or cold, dry or wet, and/or windy or
5. The shotcrete equipment used: a) type of nozzle; b) distance from the
receiving surface; and c) air pressure and air volume;
6. The orientation of the shotcreting (vertical/sloped/overhead)
Experienced shotcrete contracting firms using ACI Certified Nozzle men have
a wealth of experience in evaluating all these factors to achieve the proper
results. You may consider subcontracting the shotcrete work to an ASA
member contractor with experience in this type of work. You can submit your
project details for bids from our ASA Corporate Members using the Web form

at For further reference, ACI 506R-05, "Guide to

Shotcrete," provides some general discussion of the shooting techniques that
may be appropriate. Retaining an engineer or shotcrete consultant
experienced in shotcrete application may be of value to assist in evaluating
your specific factors and recommend the best solution.

Question 145:
Can shotcrete be recycled?

Shotcrete is concrete applied using the shotcrete process. Therefore, any
recycling potential that applies to concrete would apply to shotcrete.

Question 146:
We will be shotcreting the inside of a tunnel entrance. The plan is to apply 3
ft. (0.9 m) of shotcrete on the walls and ceiling to support a large section of
limestone rock 22 ft. (6.7 m) high, 30 ft. (9.1 m) wide, and 20 ft. (6.1 m) deep
above the tunnel at the entrance that has moved and is wedged and
supported with an existing steel structure. We would like to test the
shotcrete and are wondering what type and quantity of tests you recommend
and which testing labs are in our area that would be able to conduct the

The article "Shotcrete TestingWho, Why, When, and How" in ASAs Summer
2011 issue of Shotcrete magazine should help answer most of your questions
on testing of shotcrete. ACI 506R, "Guide to Shotcrete," and ACI 506.2,
"Specification for Shotcrete," also have helpful information on shotcrete
testing. Most competent testing labs should be able to test the compressive
strength of cores extracted from shotcrete panels or sections, as they are
very similar to concrete cylinder tests. If conducting more advanced testing,
you may want to consider selecting a lab experienced with shotcrete.

Question 147:
We are building 6 and 8 in. (150 and 200 mm) thick cast-in-place concrete
retaining walls with No. 4 (No. 13M) reinforcing bar at 18 in. (450 mm) on
center each way. We would like to change to shotcrete as an alternate
method of construction. Does the reinforcing bar design have to change for
shotcrete application?

Shotcrete would be a great substitute for the retaining wall. Design-wise, the
shotcrete is equivalent to concrete because shotcrete is really just a way of
placing concrete.
The No. 4 (No. 13M) at 18 in. (450 mm) on-center spacing is not a problem. A
No. 4 (No. 13M) bar can be easily encased by a qualified, experienced nozzle
men using either wet- or dry-mix shotcrete. In longer walls, or anywhere
where reinforcing bars are lap spliced, the lap splice bars should be spaced
apart. ACI 506R-05, "Guide to Shotcrete," Section 5.4, provides some good
guidance on optimizing reinforcing bar layouts for shotcreting. On the issue
of lap splices, it says: "If the design allows, direct contact of the reinforcing
splices should be avoided. Non-contact lapped bars should have a minimum
spacing of at least three times the diameter of the largest bar at the splice."
Thus, with No. 4 (No. 13M) bars in a lap splice, you should have the
reinforcing bars spaced 1.5 in. (38 mm) apart at the splice to allow the
shotcrete material to flow around the bar during shooting.
Chapter 8 of ACI 506R-05, "Guide to Shotcrete," also provides a lot of
guidance on proper shooting techniques for a variety of applications,
including walls.

Question 148:
I have a question regarding the oscillator on a shotcrete rig. When applying
shotcrete, does the oscillator serve any purpose other than uniform
application? Im searching for the main reason to use an oscillator and am

wondering if the integrity of the shotcrete would be compromised if it were


Assuming this is an oscillator on a robotic arm, it should not be disabled.
Good nozzling technique, for either wet or dry, requires the nozzle to be
moved in a constant overlapping circular pattern. This allows for better
encapsulation of reinforcing bar and produces a more uniform surface; and,
particularly for dry process, it is required for final mixing of materials that
occurs on the surface.
Without proper nozzle technique, which requires oscillation, you will not get
uniform, homogeneous shotcrete.

Question 149:
We will be blasting close to a shotcrete wall. Can you suggest any
precautionary measures or offer lessons learned when blasting next to a
recently shotcrete wall?

It is very common in drill and blast operations to blast shortly the
application of shotcrete. There are certainly risks involved, but a
knowledgeable and experienced mining crew working with or for a
knowledgeable, experienced contractor would not have any problem with
this type of application.
A knowledgeable contractor will develop a mixture and procedures to ensure
that the timing of the subsequent blast is compatible with the set time of the
shotcrete. Preconstruction testing should be required to establish the set
time (both early and final set) to assist in developing the sequence of
operations. The set time will also be impacted by the site conditions, such as

Question 150:
We are considering a shotcrete lining of a new corrugated metal pipe to
improve the smoothness and hydraulic capacity. What is the minimum
thickness over the corrugations and should we be looking at any
reinforcement or studs to support the shotcrete?

This has been done in the past to improve hydraulic capacity and provide
better wear resistance in the invert. Typically, the minimum cover over the
corrugation is 2 to 3 in. (51 to 76 mm) with a welded-wire fabric either
welded or otherwise attached to the corrugated pipe. The cover could likely
be reduced with the use of structural fibers of either steel or synthetic
material. Steel fibers and wire mesh should not be used together. Care must
be taken to specify the required finish. This application would likely benefit
from a smooth trowel or light broom finish. A light broom finish is preferable
from a safety standpoint, as a trowel finish creates a very slippery surface
both during construction and for the maintenance at a later date. In addition
to the hydraulic and wear characteristics, once shotcreted, the entire pipe
will become a composite section with improved structural characteristics. It
should be noted that the pipe must be large enough for workers to work in
safely and productively. This would mean an absolute minimum of 48 in.
(1219 mm) and preferably larger.
A knowledgeable contractor will develop a mixture and procedures to ensure
that the timing of the subsequent blast is compatible with the set time of the
shotcrete. Preconstruction testing should be required to establish the set
time (both early and final set) to assist in developing the sequence of
operations. The set time will also be impacted by the site conditions, such as

Question 151:
We are a local agency considering the repair of a number of older culverts
with shotcrete. Like most agencies, we are trying to be creative about
maximizing our funds. We work with a federal agency when it is determined
that a "new" culvert is needed. In other words, the agency will not pay for
maintenance repairs but will pay for "new" culverts. We are wondering if the
shotcrete method has ever been viewed as a means of creating a "new"

culvert. Could the existing culvert be considered as merely a form for the
new culvert? Could you also speak to the life expectancy of shotcrete (life
cycle) versus a new concrete culvert?

Shotcrete has been used extensively for the purpose of relining existing
culverts. You are correct to visualize the existing culvert as a form for
building a new structure. Because it is a stay-in-place form, it may actually
act as a composite structure. Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete and
will have similar, if not better, durability and life span if installed
professionally with good mixtures. You can locate numerous past articles on
durability of shotcrete that have appeared in Shotcrete magazine in the
magazines archive on the ASA website, Similar work has
been done in California, Colorado, and other states. This approach is
currently being used as permanent tunnel lining in many places, including
many of the current New York Transit projects.
A knowledgeable contractor will develop a mixture and procedures to ensure
that the timing of the subsequent blast is compatible with the set time of the
shotcrete. Preconstruction testing should be required to establish the set
time (both early and final set) to assist in developing the sequence of
operations. The set time will also be impacted by the site conditions, such as

Question 152:
I have been asked to recommend repairs to a fire-damaged brick wall. The
wall is 12 in. (30.5 mm) thick and 14 to 16 ft. (4.25 to 4.9 m) high. The fire
caused spalled brick3/8 in. (10 mm) deepand soft. mortar joints. The
damaged side of the wall is exposed to weather. I plan to recommend tuckpointing the mortar joints but am wondering if shotcrete is appropriate to
repair the spalled brick. The brick could be cut out and replaced, but
shotcrete would seem to offer the advantage of repairing and reinforcing the
brick wall.

Shotcrete would be an excellent process to repair or overlay your wall. You
are correct in saying that it could not only repair but also reinforce and

enhance the strength of the wall system. It is important to remove all

deteriorated brick and sandblast or water-blast the surface if you are looking
for a good bond between the shotcrete and the existing brick. Dowels
epoxied or grouted into the existing brick are oft.en used to mechanically tie
the shotcrete overlay to the brick wall and also stabilize the new reinforcing
steel in the shotcrete overlay.

Question 153:
Which method of placing concrete provides a longer service lifetraditional
cast-in-place concrete with two-sided forms or shotcrete?

Shotcrete is a placing method for concrete. Wet-mix shotcrete will be very
similar in density to fully consolidated concrete when the concrete mixture
designs are similar. Properly mixed and shot, dry-mix shotcrete may have a
slightly higher density. Properly designed, placed, and cured, both concrete
and shotcrete will give an excellent service life.

Question 154:
I have a swimming pool that appears to have shrinkage cracks in the floor. I
have tried to inject an epoxy, but the cracks are too small. Do you have any

There are a wide variety of epoxies and polyurethanes used for crack
injection. Smaller crack widths would require a lower-viscosity material to
penetrate the crack. You should contact an engineer or injection specialist
experienced in shotcrete and cracking issues to evaluate the cracking and
make a specific recommendation for repair. Proper concrete mixture design,
placement techniques, and early water fogging and curing can help to
reduce plastic shrinkage and drying shrinkage cracking in the future.

Question 155:
To keep shrinkage cracking sufficiently tight so as not to cause reflective
cracking in the plaster layer, what is the proper depth of reinforcing steel
from the shotcrete surface in swimming pool applications?

This question should be addressed by a qualified engineer with experience in
designing swimming pools and well-versed in shotcrete technology. Shotcrete
is a method of placing concrete and the parameters that work for concrete
cover work for shotcrete.
1. Predampening the soil that the concrete/shotcrete is placed against;
2. Ensuring that the reinforcing bar temperature is not too high; and
3. Early curing of the shotcrete surface and maintenance of curing for the
specified duration. If no duration is specified, a 7-day wet cure is
Using fibers in the shotcrete/concrete can also help control surface early-age
plastic shrinkage cracking.

Question 156:
Can shotcrete be effectively used to repair holes in an old 8 ft. (2.4 m)
diameter storm sewer tunnel constructed of stone/brick/mortar? One of the
holes is completely worn through to the earthen backfill material. The other
two holes are missing the innermost layer of stone masonry, but the outer
layer of masonry is still in place.

The friction coefficient n of well-finished shotcrete for use in Kutters
equation (and, more streamlined, Mannings equation) is generally used as
0.012. Shotcrete is used not only to improve flow characteristics of brick,

corrugated metal, or any other pipe construction but can also be

conventionally reinforced as a structural liner to eliminate the need for liner
plates or other pipe-lining alternatives.

Question 157:
A circular concrete tank built in the 1980s is to be resurfaced due to cracks in
the exterior shotcrete lining. It has been proposed that the existing surface
will be hydroblasted. Is there a concern that the shotcrete may contain

No, there is no reason to assume that the shotcrete would contain asbestos.
Shotcrete linings typically contain sand and cement. Asbestos was commonly
used for pipe insulation and high-temperature industrial uses and not for

Question 158:
We are a shotcrete contractor in Gold Coast, Australia. We have noticed that
in the United States, you use different types of tools for cutting the
shotcrete. How do you maintain a plum wall with the shotcrete rods? When a
project requires a smooth finish or steel trowel finish, what are the tools and
processes that are typically used? Finally, for a structural wall, what is the
typical psi (MPa) and size of aggregate used?

The face or surface of shotcrete walls as described are typically established
with ground wires or screeds, which assist the person using the shotcrete rod
in cutting the wall to the proper plane. The tools typically used to achieve a
troweled surface are the shotcrete rod, wood floats, and steel trowels.
Typically, shotcrete walls are a minimum of 4000 psi (27.6 MPa) 28-day
compressive strength and the aggregate varies from sand only to a blend of

sand and 0.375 to 0.5 in. (9.6 to 13 mm) aggregate. Consult our Shotcrete
magazine archives for examples at

Question 159:
In regards to the strength of shotcrete and weather is there a Mine Safety
and Health Administration (MSHA) regulation requiring our paste cylinder
sample results to be above a certain psi (MPa)?

Shotcrete is normally expected to meet or exceed 4000 psi (27.6 MPa). We
are not aware of any specific MSHA requirements. We would suggest you
consult a tunnel or mining engineer who is well-versed with shotcrete. Cores
taken from field-shot test panels are generally used for the evaluation of
compressive strength of shotcrete (ASTM C1140/C1140M-11).

Question 160:
We plan to use fiber-reinforced (polypropylene fibers) shotcrete as a brown
coat for stucco (three-coat stucco) over a concrete shear wall. Does a
maximum thickness of 1.5 in. (38 mm) of shotcrete require any mechanical
anchor/connection, or is the bonding strength of the shotcrete layer to the
concrete shear wall substrate sufficient?

The addition of fiber will not increase the bond of shotcrete to the concrete
shear wall. A 1.5 in. (38 mm) thick layer of properly designed and applied
shotcrete should have adequate bond to a properly prepared concrete
substrate without additional mechanical anchors. However, exposure
conditions, geometry of the wall, shrinkage potential of the shotcrete
mixture, application technique, and curingas well as the age and quality of
the shear wall concrete substratemay affect the bond. These factors should
be considered by an engineer experienced with shotcrete overlays in
deciding whether additional anchoring is advisable.

Question 161:
What is the standard method for steel fiber-reinforced shotcrete (SFRS)
testing? Are you supposed to core test panels or do you only do that for plain
shotcrete? Additionally, is round panel toughness testing on SFRS standard
today in the United States?

SFRS is routinely cored from shotcrete test panels or in-place shotcrete
linings without difficulty. The shotcrete should, however, have a minimum
compressive strength of about 10 MPa (1450 psi) at the time of coring.
Round panel testing of flexural toughness of fiber-reinforced shotcrete to
ASTM C1550 is oft.en specified and used for quality control (QC) purposes in
tunneling and mining projects in North America and elsewhere (for example,
mines in Australia) virtually every day of the year.

Question 162:
We have a client with a 6 1/2 in. (165 mm) thick reinforced concrete roof
slab, the underside of which is in need of repair. There are places where the
concrete has spalled, exposing reinforcing bar that has a 3/4 in. (19 mm)
cover. There is efflorescence, and there is spalling that does not expose
reinforcing bar and some at the steel supporting the concrete slab. In
Is shotcrete a feasible overhead repair for this situation? What holds the
shotcrete to the slab? What is the minimum thickness of shotcrete we should
specify? Should we specify shotcrete to be used only at the spalls, cracks,
and efflorescence or the whole underside of the slab? Do you have a
shotcrete repair procedure that we can put in our specification?

This type of repair is commonly done using the shotcrete process. The extent
of the repair is an engineering issue, not a shotcrete issueshotcrete can
and is used for patches and overlays. The shotcrete will adhere to the

properly prepared existing concrete. It is installed such that the weight of the
plastic shotcrete does not;exceed the adhesion to the existing surfaces; if
additional material is needed, it is added at the initial layer or layer set up.
The minimum thickness is related to the material used for the repair and the
need to establish cover on the existing or added reinforcing. Some repair
Please find a link to a paper on Concrete Repair by Shotcrete Application".
The success of the shotcrete repair will be highly dependent upon using a
qualified shotcrete contractor and doing an excellent job of preparing the
surfaces. Where the reinforcing is exposed, you should require that it be
chipped out the entire perimeter allowing for a space of 3/4 in. (19 mm)
behind the reinforcing bar so that the repair material can completely encase
the reinforcing.

Question 163:
Is shotcrete a viable option to encase galvanized steel beams at a coal
unloading facility to protect them from impact and abrasion? Will the
galvanizing on the steel inhibit bonding?

Yes, shotcrete would be suitable for this application. A well-installed
shotcrete lining will be durable and protect the steel from impact, abrasion,
and from the acid attack that occurs from sulfur in the coal. Shotcrete is used
to cover both the steel hopper walls and to encase the steel beams. Calcium
aluminate cement is typically recommended for coal bunkers because of the
mild acid condition that occurs that can attack the steel. Whether or not the
steel beams are galvanized or not is irrelevant because the shotcrete will not
bond well enough to any steel surface without welded studs and mesh to
hold it in place. The beams will need to have studs welded and mesh
installed around the beams for the shotcrete placement. With galvanized
steel it is oft.en necessary to grind off a spot of the galvanized coating at the
spot of each stud weld location to properly weld the studs.

Question 164:

We are working on a geotechnical project in the northwest to repair an

existing rockery retaining wall. The wall is around 750 ft. (229 m) in length
and up to 12 ft. (4 m) in height. The issue is that some of the basalt boulders
within the wall are weathered soft. and falling apart. The total weathered
rocks that are falling apart comprise approximately 7% of the wall. Can we
use shotcrete on the weathered rocks to give them more stability as a repair
process? If not, is there a process we can use with shotcrete to repair the
wall without having to rebuild the entire wall?

Shotcrete has been used in the Northwest to strengthen and overlay existing
rockery walls. The need to remove the weathered material is dependent
upon the need for the overlay to bond with the existing wall, which is an
engineering issue and not a shotcrete issue. Shotcrete can and is shot
successfully against soil and other weathered surfaces.

Question 165:
Im planning to add 6 in. (152 mm) of shotcrete to an existing 12 in. (305
mm) wall of a below-surface concrete tank to accommodate the removal of
an existing middle support slab. The soil grade is approximately near the top
of the existing tank wall. Ive been told that since the existing wall is
preloaded with soil, adding shotcrete will not increase the strength of the
thickened wall and that the only way the wall will act as a whole (based on
18 in. [457 mm] thickness) is if the retained soil load is removed, then the
shotcrete is added, and then soil is put back in place. Is this assessment
accurate? Is there a way make this wall work as 18 in. (457 mm) without
removing the existing soil?

Stress distribution from external loads through the tank wall with the
shotcrete lining will depend on the geometry of the tank and the structural
function of sections to be removed. A professional engineer experienced in
shotcrete and concrete tank design should be consulted to ascertain the
structural capacity of the completed wall. It would certainly be important to
create a good bond plane by roughening the surface and removing any loose
or fractured materials and using sufficient drilled dowels to make the existing

12 in. (305 mm) wall and new 6 in. (152 mm) overlay work well together.
Also, it might help to specify the use of a shrinkage reducing admixture.

Question 166:
When was the 4000 psi (28 MPa) standard set for shotcrete?

ASA has taken the position that structural shotcrete is shotcrete that meets
or exceeds a compressive strength of 4000 psi (28 MPa). Looking at pertinent
ACI Codes related to watertight concrete, as we would expect in a pool, we
find ACI 318-95, Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete,
introduced a provision in 1995 that required: Concrete intended to have low
permeability when exposed to water shall have a Minimum fc of 4000 psi
(28 MPa). Similarly, ACI 350-01, Code Requirements for Environmental
Concrete Structures, first issued in 2001 required: Concrete intended to
have low permeability when exposed to water, wastewater, and corrosive
gases shall have a Minimum fc of 4000 psi (28 MPa). Since ACI 350 is more
directly applicable to water-containing structures, the 2001 date is probably
the most relevant, though ACI 318 introduced the concept in 1991. We do,
however, see shotcrete specified at lesser levels for different types of uses.

Question 167:
We have a unique situation where we need to apply shotcrete around a steel
plate that is surrounding a beam supporting a floor. Can you provide any UL
listings for applying shotcrete to a steel beam, column, or plate?

UL designs are typically for the hourly fire proofing ratings on structural steel
members such as I-beams, wide flange beams, and vessel skirts. The beams
and columns are tested for specific fireproofing products, beam sizes, and
configurations. The thickness of the steel and other considerations factor in
the evaluation; therefore, there is no blanket UL design number that you can

use for steel plate. You can get guidance on the cover needed for different
fire ratings in ACI 216.1-97/TMS 0216.1-97, Standard Method for
Determining Fire Resistance of Concrete and Masonry, Construction
Remember that shotcrete is a process for applying concrete. You may also
consider looking for a similar concrete UL design and submit it for
consideration. Applying the shotcrete at a greater thickness to compensate
for any variances should be proposed and presented to engineer or the
owner for consideration.

Question 168:
I need to specify a shotcrete cover to some structural steel in a coal dump
hopper. The idea is to provide abrasion and impact protection to the steel
beams. However, the client cannot afford to have the hopper out of service
for an extended period. Is there a high-early- strength option for shotcrete
as there is for cast-in-place concrete?

There are prepackaged materials commercially available for impact and
abrasion resistance. Please contact material suppliers from ASAs Buyers
Guide for product information: Guide.

Question 169:
Is it critical for the early and intermediate compressive strength at 3 and 7
days, respectively, to be met for shotcrete applications for a rock fall face if
the 28-day compressive strength is met?

Compressive strength at 1, 3, and 7 days can be important to all for
subsequent operations. In general, 7-day strengths are a good indicator of
the ultimate 28-day strength. The need for early strength is an engineering

and construction sequence issue, not a normal or typical shotcrete


Question 170:
Can you send me a document with ASA specifications for Gunite coverage of
reinforcing bar for swimming pools, please?

ASA does not have such a document. The concrete cover for embedded
reinforcing steel is subject to the local Building Codes and may be increased
by the structural plans and specifications produced by an Engineer or
Architect for a specific project. ACI 350-06, Code Requirements for
Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures and Commentary, covers
concrete structures intended for water containment and would be applicable

Question 171:
I would appreciate if you could comment on a city of Los Angeles shotcrete
code that requires that shotcrete lift.s not exceed 3 ft. (1 m) and that 3 hours
First of all, if you waited 3 hours between lift.s, you would have full-length
cold joints along the whole length of the wall. Youd also have to wash out
the pump every lift. or the concrete would harden in the pump and
hoses. Second, you cant leave a 4000 to 5000 psi (28 to 34 MPa) mixture
sitting in the truck for 3 hours! Does it make any sense to you?

This provision has been an issue for shotcrete contractors in the region for
many years. ASA and ACI Committee 506, Shotcrete, do not endorse the
concept stated in the Los Angeles Bulletin. Unfortunately, this provision

A good shotcrete practice is to limit lift. height to that which can be placed
without sloughing or sagging and to place subsequent lift.s at such a time
that the previous lift. is sufficiently firm to support the subsequent lift.. ACI
506R-05, Guide to Shotcrete, Section 8.5.8, specifically addresses this

Question 172:
I am a Civil Engineer working on a hydropower project. Is it possible to place
shotcrete at a thickness of 24 in. (600 mm) inside a tunnel that will be used
as a water tunnel to generate power?

Yes, it is possible to shoot 24 in. (600 mm) thick tunnel linings. There are
various ways of doing this, depending on the reinforcing steel configuration.
One method we have successfully used for shooting tunnel linings this thick
with a double mat of reinforcing bar (1 in. [20 mm] diameter bars at 6 in.
[150 mm] on center, vertically and horizontally) is to bench gun shoot the
walls up to the spring line with a wet-mix silica-fume-modified shotcrete
(without accelerator) and then ribbon-shoot (2 ft. [0.5 m] wide strips)
overhead using the same mixture but with the option of using an alkali-free
If the shotcrete requires a smooth finish (equivalent to a cast-in-place
concrete finish), then the initial shotcrete is shot to within about 1 in. (30
mm) of the final shotcrete thickness and allowed to set and harden.
Following that, a final non-accelerated finish coat can be applied that can be
trimmed to shooting wires with a cutting rod, closed up with a darby, and
then trowelled with either a magnesium or steel trowel, depending on the
Such work can be done with a remote-control manipulator arm (robot) or, for
more precision, with hand nozzling out of a basket on a manlift. (provided the
tunnel floor is sufficiently smooth for operation of a manlift.). The bottom
line: hire a contractor who has experience in conducting such work.

Question 173:

I would like to know the standard operating procedures for cleaning out
shotcrete hoses with air and/or water and, in particular, how to keep the
hose from whipping when using air.

Shotcrete hoses can be cleaned out using either water or air. In many
instances, the site conditions make cleaning with water not feasible. When
cleaning with air, the free end or discharge end of the hose should be
secured to something to ensure that the hose does not whip as the material
and cleaning ball or rag discharges.

Question 174:
We are working with an architect in New York City on an unreinforced
masonry (URM) building where they want to remove brick to provide a larger
storefront opening. I would like to use the remaining walls to resist lateral
forces but the brick is insufficient. We would like to remove one width of brick
and apply 4 in. (102 mm) of reinforced shotcrete in its place. Can you tell me
where I can find applicable code and design guidelines for this application?

Your proposed solution is certainly reasonable and is used regularly.
Shotcrete has been used to strengthen both URM and tilt-up panels to
accommodate enlarged openings. Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete
and the in-place properties would be the same. The applicable code would be
the code you would use if you were to strengthen this wall with concrete.
Designs using the ACI 318 Building Code and Commentary are fully
applicable to shotcrete placement, although compressive tests for
acceptance are secured using cores from shotcrete test panels per ASTM
C1140/C1140M and C1604/C1604M, rather than cast cylinders.

Question 175:
Is there a specification with regard to cold joints when using shotcrete?

Generally, the interface between sequentially placed layers of shotcrete is
not considered a cold joint because the shotcrete abrasion, velocity of
impact, and high paste content make excellent bonding conditions. Cores
taken through layers of shotcrete on shotcrete oft.en show that it is virtually
impossible to ascertain one layer of shotcrete from the next. Please refer to
ACI 506R, Guide to Shotcrete, for information on joints in shotcrete.

Question 176:
We are in the process of designing retaining walls that will be supported by
either concrete piers or steel piles. We would like to see some typical details
on how the reinforcing is secured to either the piers or piles.

For concrete piers, the reinforcing steel is generally secured to the piles with
reinforcing bar grouted dowels. For steel piles, the reinforcing bar is generally
secured with Nelson studs.

Question 177:
I am evaluating a community in central Colorado that contains shotcrete
slope reinforcement ranging from 14 to 44 ft. (4 to 13 m) in height. Assuming
the installation met all required guidelines, what should I anticipate as a
useful life for this product?

Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete and properly placed shotcrete
should have a service life similar to cast concrete. Generally, concrete
structures in normal environmental exposures are expected to have service
lives from 50 to 100 years. With particular attention to materials and
construction methods, some concrete structures, such as the new San
Francisco Bay Bridge, have been designed for a service life up to 150 years.

The first step in achieving a long-lasting, high-quality installation is to

engage a highly qualified and experienced shotcrete contractor. There are
many other factors that influence service life, including using the right
mixture design for the anticipated exposure conditions.

Question 178:
Is there is a manufactured depth gauge that would be glued/nailed to the
form to allow the nozzle man to physically see how much concrete is being
applied to the surface? We have a condition where there will be two or three
applications on the same surface, and I am concerned that the correct depth
is not being applied in each pass.

ACI 506R-05, Guide to Shotcrete, Section 5.6, on Alignment Control (refer
to ASA Bookstore:
itemid=506R-05) gives specific guidance on proven methods to establish the
line and grade of the surface, as well as proper material thickness and cover.
Common methods are use of ground wires, guide strips, depth gauges, and
( and contact one of our members who
provides supplies to the shotcrete industry

Question 179:
We are working on a renovation of an existing shopping plaza where some of
the existing walls are split face block. Would it be an acceptable application
to resurface the block with shotcrete to achieve a smooth finish? If so, what
is the thinnest we would be able to go?

Shotcrete could be used for this application. The thickness of the overlay
would be dependent on the material used. A potential concern would be the
lines of the existing block showing on the new surface. We would suggest

that you search for and review various ASA Shotcrete magazine articles as
well as ACI 506R-05, Guide to Shotcrete

Question 180:
We have a two-story shotcrete wall enclosing an indoor community pool. We
are specifying a board-form finish for the interior and the exterior will have a
parge finish coat. Are there any issues with the consistent moisture from the
pool that should be addressed in the concrete mixture or topical sealant?
How should we deal with the exterior versus interior finishes in regards to
water intrusion protection and allowing the green concrete to dry out over

Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete and the characteristics of
shotcrete are those of cast concrete. Although the enclosed swimming pool
will increase the interior humidity, the high humidity should have no
detrimental effects on the exposed shotcrete, and may even be beneficial in
Both cast-in-place and shotcreted concrete are commonly used for
construction of water tanks with constant exposure to water under significant
hydraulic pressure. Using good construction techniques with good-quality
concrete to build the tanks walls produces walls with no moisture evident on
the exterior face of the tanks. Simply having a high-humidity atmosphere is a
much less severe exposure and should not result in interior air moisture
being transmitted into and through the shotcrete wall. Any coatings
considered for aesthetics should follow the manufacturers recommendations
for drying time of concrete before application. If there is a concern about the
permeability of the shotcrete wall, a premium shotcrete mixture including
silica fume might prevent some issues on this application.

Question 181:
What difference would there be in the density of shotcrete before and
shooting? Is there any shotcrete mixture-design soft.ware in SI units

available? Or any document of shotcrete mixture design in SI units for

optimizing shotcrete design?

Shotcrete is simply a placing method for concrete. Thus, the mixture design
and material properties are the same as concrete. We are not aware of any
soft.ware specific to shotcrete in any units. ACI 506R-05, Guide to
Shotcrete, has guidance on desirable mixture characteristics (aggregate
grading, supplemental cementitious material [SCM], and so on) that would
be helpful in developing a concrete mixture design for shotcrete placement.

Question 182:
I am a structural engineer working on underground structures such as
tunnels and caverns. I would like to know the permissible shear strength of
shotcrete to be taken for M30 Grade SFRS (M30 = 30 MPa [4350 psi] at 28
days). I would like to know more about its other properties, as well.

Shotcrete is simply a placing method for concrete. Thus, the in-place
material properties are essentially the same as cast concrete. A specific
value for the shear is beyond the scope of our Association because many
design and material properties can affect the shear capacity. We would
suggest you engage a Professional Engineer who specializes in Underground
Shotcrete. You should consult our Buyers Guide to find such a consultant. ACI
506R-05, Guide to Shotcrete, would be a helpful primer to learn more
about shotcrete.

Question 183:
I have a new construction project where I want to apply shotcrete to cast-inplace concrete columns and an elevated, post-tensioned concrete slab as a
finish material. The finished application is intended to be in varying depths

from 3 to 12 in. (76 to 305 mm) or more. The desired end result is a smooth,
curvilinear, sculptural form. Is this type of application achievable?

Shotcrete can and has been used to increase the size of columns and thicken
overhead slabs while providing great-looking linear or curvilinear finishes.
Examples of curvilinear finishes can be found in past Shotcrete magazine
articles. You can search the Shotcrete magazine archives.

Question 184:
We just shot a wet-mix swimming pool for a customer. The shallow end depth
starts at 39 in. (991 mm) to the top of the beam and over 10 ft. (3 m) linear
slopes down to 54 in. (1372 mm). From there we maintain our 1 to 3 ft. (0.3
to 0.9 m) slope down to 8 ft. (2 m) for the diving end of the pool.
The customer would like to raise the entire shallow end pool floor up to the
39 in. (991 mm) depth. We prefer to use wet-mix shotcrete. The overlay
would be tapered from the 39 in. (991 mm) start to 15 in. (381 mm) thick at
the 54 in. (1372 mm) depth. What would you recommend for this overlay to
bond and not pop loose or cause crack transfer to pool plaster?

The proposed overlay will be similar to any repair where shotcrete is placed
over existing concrete. Proper surface preparation is essential for allowing
good bond. Guidance on surface preparation can be found in ACI 506R-05,
Guide to Shotcrete. It also appears you are suggesting tapering the
thickness from 15 to 0 in. (381 to 0 mm). Feathering thickness down to 0 in.
(0 mm) is not encouraged, and a minimum thickness should be established.
Because the overlay section will be quite thick and experience differential
shrinkage from the previously shot material, the overlay will require
additional reinforcement to accommodate temperature and shrinkage
stresses. You should consult with an engineer experienced in shotcrete
design to establish the proper amount of reinforcement. The required
reinforcement and cover over the reinforcement will control your minimum
overlay thickness.

Question 185:
I am interested to know if any shotcrete contractors have shot a magnesium
phosphate material (dry-process) before and, if so, could you detail the
special requirements necessary in placing such a unique product?

Phosphate-bonded refractory materials were routinely shot in cyclone boilers
in the 1970s. These phosphate-bonded materials dont have a cement bond,
but achieve a chemical bond when heat is applied. Without knowing the
precise formulation of the mixture and grain sizes involved, we cannot tell
you definitively that your specific material can be shotcreted. However, there
is a long history of successful past experience with phosphate-bonded
refractory materials being shot with the dry-mix process. You may want to
consider a field trial before construction to verify your specific mixture works
with your dry-mix shotcrete equipment.

Question 186:
I am an engineer working on a project involving shotcrete and earthwork.
The shotcrete that was placed has some expansion cracks, which we
expected. I would like to know the best way to repair them. Is there some
type of waterproof coating/grout that can be applied between the cracks?
Part of the cracks will be continuously under water. The shotcrete is the
surfacing material for a diversion ditch at a mine, and we need to
recommend some remediation solutions to our client.

There are many products in the marketplace for repairing cracks. Because
shotcrete is simply a method for placing concrete, any method for concrete
crack repair would be applicable. It would be wise to use a product that filled
the cracks and is able to tolerate thermal movement in the future (not a
brittle product). Many injectable polyurethane grouts can accomplish this.
Surface-applied coatings would need an adequate thickness and elasticity to
tolerate moving cracks. We suggest that you contact one of our corporate
members who is familiar with your area and get their specific advice. Please
refer to ASAs Buyers Guide.

Question 187:
How might one add fibers to a Gunite (dry-mix) application? I have heard of
some companies adding them by hand at the base of the auger and others
who poured them over their sand and mixed them in with a loader before
loading it into the truck. Is there a more efficient way to add them to a dry
mixture so that they are distributed evenly throughout?

Many of our members add them by hand at the mixer and have had good
success when using an adequate mix time. Another method is to have the
mix blended at a bag mix plant with the fibers.

Question 188:
We have a 17 mile (28 km) long TBM tunnel for water that will drive our
underground powerhouse. Is there a recommended shotcrete surface texture
we could use? Our contractor is using 0.31 in. (8 mm) aggregate, but they
are getting an undulating surface. Can you provide some clarity as to what
we should ask our contractor to try and achieve?

Shotcrete can be applied with many different textures. The nozzle finish
shown is very rough, even for a natural gun finish. Nozzle finishes can be
done smoother than this. Another technique would be to use a broom to
make it smoother it is shot. Other finishes include wood float, rubber or
sponge float, broom, and smooth trowel finishes. There are many examples
of finishes shown in articles in Shotcrete magazine.

Question 189:

I am an engineering technologist working on a landslide project where

shotcrete had been applied to stabilize the sandstone head scarp at the crest
of the slope. The shotcrete was applied in 1998. a recent inspection, it
was noted that the surface of the shotcrete had some cracking in some
sections. How can this be repaired? Can the cracks simply be filled with a
grout/mortar mixture of some sort or do the cracked sections have to be
removed entirely and shotcrete be reapplied?

Shotcrete can and has been used to overlay previously installed shotcrete or
concrete that has cracked over time. It would be advisable that you engage
an engineer knowledgeable in geotechnical engineering and concrete
properties to formalize a solution. It is important that the cause of the cracks
be determined and adequate reinforcing be designed to ensure that the
cracks do not propagate through the overlaid shotcrete.

Question 190:
I am a structural engineer and I am supposed to design structures for
shotcrete applications. Should I calculate and check its stability by the
working stress method? Or, could I use the ultimate limit design? Are
there regulations or specifications about the application of method on ACI?
Finally, is elastic coefficient different between normal concrete and

Shotcrete is a method for placing concrete. Thus, the concrete placed by the
shotcrete method has the same physical properties as cast concrete with the
same mixture proportions. Either working stress or ultimate strength
methods used for concrete design are applicable. Local building codes may
require a particular design approach.

Question 191:

I have a customer who would like to place 2 in. (51 mm) of shotcrete onto
our geotextile canal liner, which has been used for many years with 2 to 4 in.
(51 to 102 mm) of shotcrete. In all of these previous projects, contraction
joints were installed. For this project, the customer is asking whether this is
an absolute requirement, as the geocomposite canal liner beneath is the
water containment component. Does it make a difference in terms of
cracking and joints whether the shotcrete is 2 or 4 in. (51 or 102 mm) thick?
What is the typical finishing that is done on canal projects?

Long expanses of concrete canal lining exposed to the sun and weather
would experience significant internal tensile drying shrinkage stresses.
Regular contraction joints help to relieve the internal tension created by
concrete shrinkage. If no contraction joints are provided, shrinkage will still
occur and the concrete lining will produce its own contraction joints, better
known as cracks. Unfortunately, the resulting cracking will be random and
can vary significantly in size and length. Thus, contraction joints are a good
approach to help induce cracking at regular, controlled locations. If the client
doesnt want contraction joints, they need to understand that cracking will
Theoretically, with the same percentage of embedded reinforcement,
cracking between a 2 or 4 in. (51 or 102 mm) should not be substantially
different. Of course, the 4 in. (102 mm) thick shotcrete section would require
twice the concrete material and twice the embedded reinforcement to
maintain the same percentage of reinforcement. A 2 in. (51 mm) thick
section could have some difficulty in maintaining adequate cover over
embedded reinforcing bars. The designers could also consider using fiberreinforced shotcrete to help control shrinkage and temperature stresses,
although fairly high dosages are needed for effective elimination of
reinforcing bars. More guidance on fiber-reinforced shotcrete is available in
ACI 506.1R-08, Guide to Fiber-Reinforced Shotcrete. A 2 in. (51 mm)
overlay is absolutely the least possible and 3 or 4 in. (76 or 102 mm) is far
Canals are generally specified to have a natural gun finish, a rough broom
finish, or a light broom finish.

Question 192:

I have been asked to come up with a 5000 psi (35 MPa) in 24 hours shotcrete
mixture, using cement, fly ash, silica fume, and fine aggregate. I need some
advice on a mixture.

Design of a concrete mixture to be placed by the wet-mix shotcrete method
is essentially the same as normal cast-in-place concrete mix design. The
The maximum coarse aggregate size is generally limited to about 3/8 in.
They use a fairly low water-cementitious material ratio (w/cm) and slump to
The potential to use an accelerator that can be added at the nozzle; and

Since you desire a high-early-strength mixture, using fly ash as a
supplemental cementitious material (SCM) wouldnt be recommended
because it slows set and strength gain at early ages. Micro-silica may be
beneficial for early strength gain. Consideration should be given to using
accelerator added at the nozzle. There is some guidance on concrete mixture
design in ACI 506R-05, Guide to Shotcrete"; however, because local
materials (aggregates, cements, SCMs) can vary significantly, you should
consult with an engineer or concrete testing laboratory familiar with
shotcrete to produce and test a mixture design to meet your requirements.

Question 193:
Can shotcrete be used to help seal a leaking pond? We have a 1.5 acre (6070
m) pond that we are in the process of completing. We spread 90,000 lb
(40,823 kg) of bentonite in, but the bentonite washed off the steep banks
and now we are stuck with a half-full pond. Would shotcrete be a practical
solution for our problem?

Properly designed shotcrete (both concrete materials and reinforcing are
important in the design) placed by an experienced shotcrete contractor can
certainly be used to provide a somewhat watertight lining for your pond that
will be serviceable, durable, and require little to no maintenance for decades
to come. We would suggest you consult with an engineer or shotcrete

contractor experienced in this type of shotcrete work. You may use our online
Buyers Guide to find an ASA corporate member consultant or contractor to
assist you.

Question 194:
We are in the process of building a shotcrete pool and are required to wettest the pool before set, waterproofing, and tile. What is the expected waterloss percentage? We are required to achieve 1%.

We are not aware of a specific standard for pools. However, ACI 350.1-10,
Specification for Tightness Testing of Environmental Engineering Concrete
Containment Structures, specifies a volume loss of 0.05% of volume per day
conducted over a 72-hour test period for hydrostatic tightness testing of
open liquid containment structures. Specifics of conducting the test can be
It should be noted that the pool should be filled and allowed to saturate for 3
days before beginning the measurements.

Question 195:
We are working on a project with a wall that requires additional capacity due
to increased loading requirements. We are contemplating shotcrete with
additional reinforcing to provide additional thickness for the wall.
Is it possible to achieve a composite wall to design for a thicker section for
bending, using the bond of the existing concrete and shotcrete along with a
reinforcing bar hook anchor epoxied into the existing wall? Any information
you can provide would be appreciated.

Shotcrete is oft.en used in similar applications. The question of bending is a
structural engineering question. Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete
and the properties of shotcrete are similar if not the same as cast concrete.

To achieve a composite wall, you must ensure that the existing surface is
properly prepared to maximize the potential bond between the overlay
shotcrete and the existing wall. Shotcrete placed against a properly prepared
existing wall should achieve great bonding strength without the use of
bonding agents. Drilled and grouted dowels also contribute to the system,
working as a composite wall.

Question 196:
I am looking for some technical assistance concerning temperature
guidelines for shooting Gunite pools. Is there a suggested range of air
temperature and humidity that is recommended? Thanks for your help!

Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete. The basic guidelines for placing
concrete or shotcrete can be found in documents ACI 305R-10, Guide to Hot
Weather Concreting, and ACI 306R-10, Guide to Cold Weather Concreting.
There are some basic rules of thumb, such as 40F (4C) and rising for
starting concrete/shotcrete operations and 40F (4C) and falling for stopping
concrete/shotcrete operations. With proper planning and procedures,
concrete or shotcrete can be placed at below-freezing temperatures and at
very hot temperatures, but only with proper planning, procedures, and likely
at some cost.

Question 197:
What is the fire rating information for shotcrete?

Shotcrete is concrete, pneumatically applied. So the same fire ratings for
concrete would apply to shotcrete. The standard is ACI 216.1, Code
Requirements for Determining Fire Resistance of Concrete and Masonry
Construction Assemblies.

Question 198:
I am doing an owner/builder pool. The shotcrete company I hired left. an
approximately 4 x 4 in. (102 x 102 mm) hole in the deep end of the pool on
the side wall. What is the proper way to patch this hole prior to plastering?
(The shotcrete was applied a month ago.)

The normal repair is to pressure wash with at least 3000 psi (21 MPa) of
water pressure to remove any dirt and laitance on the surface of the
concrete. Given the rather small size of the hole, it can be hand-patched with
a nonshrink hydraulic cement with at least 4000 psi (28 MPa) 28-day
compressive strength to plug the hole. the patch is completed,
roughen the surface that will receive the plaster.

Question 199:
The Los Angeles City Bulletin states that no bars over No. 8 (No. 25) shall be
used. The structural engineer has No. 10 (No. 32) bars in the columns. I am
being told the test panel will get this approved but my City Inspector is
balking a little. Is there a publication or code somewhere that allows the test
panel to supersede the LADBS Bulletin?

The International Building Code (IBC), Section 1913, allows for larger bars as
long as it is demonstrated in a Preconstruction Test Panel. However, the Local
Building Code likely takes precedence over the IBC. You may want to present
IBC Section 1913, which requires anything over a No. 5 (No. 16) bar to be
There have been many projects shot in Los Angeles County subject to the
LADBS with bar sizes larger than No. 8 bars. ASA is not in a position to give
you project references, but perhaps our local members can.
Properly encasing No. 10 (No. 32) bars can be challenging, and should only
be attempted by qualified contractors using ACI Certified Nozzle men who

have previous successful experience doing this type of work. You may use
our online Buyers Guide to find an ASA corporate member consultant or
contractor to assist you.

Question 200:
What are the common standard test methods to measure or assess the
permeability of shotcrete?

Boiled absorption and volume of permeable voids testing (ASTM C642) may
be required for structures that need enhanced liquid-tightness or resistance
to aggressive environmental exposures. The test is sometimes used to
provide an overall indication of the quality of the shotcrete mixture,
particularly in dry-mix. However, many factors, including admixtures and
aggregate, as well as shotcrete placing, can affect the porosity of shotcrete,
so it should not be considered an absolute measure of shotcrete quality.
When required, the mean average of tests on three specimens from a test
panel, or from in-place shotcrete, should be less than or equal to the
specified boiled absorption and/or specified volume of permeable voids limits
at the specified test age with no single test greater than the specified boiled
absorption plus 1%.

Question 201:
We are evaluating a school building with a 4 in. (102 mm) thick dome roof
with a diameter of 120 ft. (37 m) bearing on a 5 in. (127 mm) thick perimeter
shear wall. The roof is constructed by anchoring a membrane to the top of an
exterior finish wall, inflating the membrane, shooting foam insulation to both
the interior wall and membrane surfaces, and then shotcreting both the wall
and roof structural elements. The contractor specifies to shotcrete only half
of the concrete thickness of the walls and roof, install the reinforcing, and
then shotcrete the remaining wall and roof to finish thickness.
a) Will the shotcrete elements installed in separate layers over the entire roof
and perimeter wall system act as effectively as elements that have been
shotcreted in one layer?
b) Will bonding between layers under gravity be a concern during the curing
process under the dome roof?
c) Would alternate types of construction joints be more advantageous in

fabrication of the wall and dome roof?

d) Would any admixtures be recommended for this application?

a) The shotcrete will act as a single layer when it is finished. The bond
between rough layers of shotcrete is very good. This has been documented
b) No, bonding will not be a concern because, as indicated previously, the
c) No, other types of construction joints are not really viable. This is the best
d) No admixtures are specifically required. Use of silica fume (micro-silica) as
a supplemental cementitious material may be advantageous in shooting
overhead. An experienced shotcrete contractor would identify whether use of
silica fume or accelerator are appropriate for their materials and equipment.
You may use our online Buyers Guide to find an ASA corporate member
consultant or contractor to assist you.

Question 202:
I have a newly constructed in-ground pool in which shotcrete was used. The
pool has been holding dirty water since just the shotcrete cured. Does
the shotcrete have to be cleaned and/or treated before an overlay is applied?

To ensure a good bond between the shotcrete shell and the overlay, the
surface should be cleaned and allowed to dry before application of the
overlay material.

Question 203:
We are using wet-mix shotcrete for culvert linings, with an existing
corrugated steel plate pipe stream culvert. The pipe is 96 in. (2438 mm) long
and deteriorated. There is a water diversion, but there is a pressure gradient
forcing water through the voids. Any ideas on leak repair procedures?

Installing a shotcrete lining requires a somewhat dry substrate and certainly
is not compatible with running water. The water needs to be blocked or

A means of blocking the inflow is to inject a swell able urethane grout

through the openings in the existing pipe. The grout, if done properly, will
expand upon contact with water and seal the outside of the pipe. Another
means of diverting the water is to install drainage material over the inflowing
area to collect the water and remove it from the pipe. The shotcrete can then
be applied over the drainage material.

Question 204:
I need to find the reference in ACI standards indicating the technical and
practical reasons why thermal expansion joints and contraction settings are
eliminated in the stabilization of nonstructural slopes covered with shotcrete
and steel fiber. Can you help?

Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete. Fibrous shotcrete will have very
similar, if not identical, properties as fibrous cast concrete. Expansion and
contraction joints should be similar in shotcrete to those needed in cast
concrete. ACI 224.3R-95, Joints in Concrete Construction, covers joints in
many different applications. The closest relevant document for eliminating
joints is ACI 360R-10, Guide to Design of Slabs-on-Ground, where, in
To eliminate saw cut contraction joints, a continuous amount of
reinforcement with a minimum steel ratio of 0.5% (PCA 2001) of the slab
cross-sectional area in the direction where the contraction joints are
This 0.5% reinforcement is consistent with the provisions of ACI 350-06,
Code requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures and
commentary, for the minimum reinforcement for temperature and
You can refer to ACI 506 series documents regarding shotcrete, and possibly
the FHWA SA-96-069R Manual for Design, Construction, and Monitoring of
Soil Nail Walls for additional guidance. Copies of the ACI 506 series
documents are available in the ASA Bookstore.

Question 205:
What is the R-value per inch for shotcrete without any integrated insulation?

Shotcrete is concrete, pneumatically applied. So the same R-value fire
ratings for concrete would apply to shotcrete. The standard is Joint ACI - TMS
216.1, Code Requirements for Determining Fire Resistance of Concrete and
Masonry Construction Assemblies.

Question 206:
My company has been using the Gunite process (dry-mix shotcrete) for years
now. What I have been finding lately is that a lot more questions are being
asked by outside safety services, neighbors to our facility, etc., about the
health effects of the shotcrete process. I believe that with the new proposed
laws dealing with silica, everyone is paying more attention to products with
sand and cement, and shotcrete has both. To try to educate myself and to
answer these questions I am on the search for enlightenment and am coming
Here is where I am falling short: there is no (or I havent found a) general
material safety data sheet (MSDS) on shotcrete. Most MSDSs I have found on
the Internet are for proprietary mixtures. I have yet to find an MSDS or any
safety info on just plain sand and cement mixture.

Shotcrete is a method for placing concrete, so an MSDS for concrete or its
constituent components would be appropriate. MSDS sheets for cement,
aggregates, and concrete are readily available from cement manufacturers,
aggregate suppliers, and concrete producers, as evidenced by a simple web
search. This is the type of issue that can be discussed and effectively
addressed by networking with other contractors and suppliers in the
shotcrete industry. This is a primary benefit of actively participating in ASA
you or your organization should join ASA and attend committee meetings.
ASA meetings are held three times a year. Check our Calendar for the next
available meeting.

Question 207:
We are designing a 41 x 60 ft. (12 x 18 m), 2.5 to 4.5 ft. (0.8 to 1.4 m) deep
swimming pool. The walls and floor are 8 in. (203 mm) thick with No. 4 (No.

13) bars. We are specifying shotcrete to build the pool. What should be the
minimum spacing for the expansion joint?

You need to address this question to a professional engineer who is
knowledgeable in the characteristics of shotcrete and concrete. Shotcrete is
a method of placing concrete and the same parameters used in concrete
design apply to shotcrete placements. Many pools of this size are designed
and built without expansion joints, but it is beyond the scope of our
association to provide further guidance.

Question 208:
We are developing a tunnel. At the tunnel portal (entrance), we have high
walls around the portal about 60 ft. (18 m) tall. They will have an inner
structural shotcrete layer (4 in. [102 mm]) and outer architectural shotcrete
(12 in. [305 mm]). Between the structural shotcrete and rock/soil, we have a
drainage system to handle the groundwater. At the same time, we may have
water at the top ground surface that will drain from top to bottom of the wall.
The owner didnt want to make the water flow as a sheet over the wall
surface. We proposed an inlet and vertical 6 in. (152 mm) pipe drop from the
top to bottom and band to a ditch at the base of the wall. Can we locate the
6 in. (152 mm) pipe between the structural shotcrete and the architectural

The Federal Highway Administrations Manual for Design & Construction of
Soil Nail Walls should address this issue. Many soil nail wall systems
incorporate a drainage ditch at the top of the wall that catches the runoff
and takes it to the ends of the wall. Your concept of a catch basin and drain
between the layers is not something we have seen in the past and we are
not qualified to express an opinion on this. We have seen systems with catch
basins at the top of the wall and the drains behind the initial layer of
shotcrete requiring notching the subgrade. To answer your question, yes, a 6
in. (152 mm) pipe can be fully encased in shotcrete between the layers.
Complete encasement of an embedment of this size needs an experienced
shotcrete nozzle man with properly sized equipment, appropriate concrete
mixture design, and a trained shotcrete crew. The issue of appropriateness of

the approach is better answered by a licensed professional engineer familiar

with soil nail systems or retaining walls, and shotcrete/concrete.

Question 209:
I am currently involved in the design of several long retaining walls. One
option under consideration is the use of soil nails with shotcrete reinforced
by welded wire fabric (WWF) and the other is the use of mechanically
stabilized earth (MSE) reinforcement (geogrids) with shotcrete reinforced by
WWF. What is the best method (or product) to anchor each system to the
shotcrete, and how are shotcrete-to-shotcrete (Gunite) anchors treated in an
MSE wall?

There are many ways to attach a shotcrete facing to a soil nail shoring
system or an MSE wall system. For the attachment to a soil nail wall system,
you could review the Federal Highway Administrations Manual for Design &
Construction of Soil Nail Walls. For MSE wall systems, you should consult
with the MSE wall system vendors. Shotcrete facing systems are commonly
used on both types of walls, but it is beyond the scope of our association to
provide further guidance.

Question 210:
Im looking for information on the quantity of rebound expected when
applying shotcrete against soil. We have a W4 4 x 4 in. (102 x 102 mm) layer
of mesh 2 in. (51 mm) from the soil face that is covered by a 4 in. (102 mm)
initial layer of shotcrete. Is there a general ballpark figure that can be used,
such as a percent of the total shotcrete placed?

Your question does not indicate the orientation of the application. If the
shotcrete is being applied to a sloped surface for a channel or slope the
rebound should be incidental. If shooting a vertical wall, the amount of
rebound is relative to the skill of the nozzle man, the quality or nature of the
mixture, the shotcrete process being used (wet-mix or dry-mix), the stability

of the wire mesh, and other parameters. The range could easily vary from 5
to 20% on vertical walls relative to the aforementioned listed parameters.

Question 211:
I have been hired to design a large concrete pit for a fertilizer plant. The pit
will need to be approximately 13 ft. (4 m) deep by 55 ft. (17 m) long by 15 ft.
(5 m) wide. The pit will contain water at varying depths and will support
grating covering the pit that will support equipment. The state is requiring
the pit slab and walls to be a monolithic pour. Could shotcrete be used in this
situation and be considered a monolithic pour?

If the directive from the state is to cast (or shotcrete) both the slab and the
walls monolithically, this would be a difficult task with either shotcrete or
cast concrete. If the directive is to cast the floor monolithically, and then the
walls monolithically, shotcrete could certainly be used and would be
considered a monolithic placement. Once the states intent is clarified, this
question should be posed to a shotcrete contractor who might be the actual
As this is a fertilizer plant, there may be additional considerations due to the
potentially aggressive nature of the fluids introduced into this pit.

Question 212:
We own a 200-year-old house with a rubble foundation. The foundation is
structurally sound, but needs to be repointed, and some of it has no mortar
at all. We would like to seal it to make it watertight and keep out radon.
Could shotcrete be applied directly to the interior of the rubble wall (which
includes small, loose stones; large gaps; and cracks), or would we have to
first have the walls repointed and smoothed over?

Yes, shotcrete would be an excellent method to fill the voids, open mortar
joints, and gun an overlay over the irregular stone foundation. The use of
shotcrete would be dependent on the access and ability of the applicator to

safely place the shotcrete. A tight or low crawl space would make it difficult.
We would suggest cleaning out loose materials with compressed air and
water prior to the shotcrete placement. We recommend installing either a 2 x
2 in. (51 x 51 mm) 12-gauge or a 3 x 3 in. (76 x 76 mm) 11-gauge wire mesh
over the stone foundation and gunning the shotcrete in place to fill in the
mortar joints, creating a shotcrete overlay over the entire stone surface.

Question 213:
We will be shotcreting a pool and the designer has put an expansion joint in
the pool going from the top of one wall through the floor to the top of the
other wall. It also shows a 9 in. (229 mm) polyvinyl chloride (PVC) water
stops in this joint. I have seen this used with cast-in-place concrete, but not
with shotcrete. I was wondering if there are any guidelines on shooting
around a PVC water stops.

This detail is normally only used on very large competition pools on the order
of 164 ft. (50 m) in length. It takes a lot of skill, technique, and care to
properly encapsulate the water stops and it should only be attempted by a
shotcrete contractor with experience in this application. The successful
encapsulation of the water stops is more challenging with the dry-mix
process than when using wet-mix shotcrete. The techniques for the proper
encapsulation are generally developed by the individual shotcrete contractor
and there is no specific guideline available for encasing water stops.

Question 214:
We are, and have been, designing and constructing permanent soil nail and
shotcrete retaining walls. Typically, our designs consist of a primary nozzlefinished shotcrete facing to shore during our top-down construction, followed
by a secondary shotcrete facing that is shot and sculpted once the full height
of the wall has been excavated, drilled, and shot with the primary facing.
We had a comment recently that only the secondary facing thickness can be
used in our design for the walls flexural capacity because the shotcrete

layers may delaminate. Our general practice is to pressure-wash the primary

nozzle-finished shotcrete facing before our approved and experienced nozzle
men place the secondary layer. From our experience, this procedure has
been very effective and we have not experienced any delamination between
shotcrete layers on any of the millions of square feet of shotcrete we have
If installed correctly with our general practice, is there any reason the
shotcrete layers would delaminate? If not, have any studies been done to
prove this to our reviewer?

All of your points are valid, but the Engineer of Record or the owner makes
the final decision on recognizing a composite system or ignoring the value of
the initial layer. As your experience shows, shotcrete provides an excellent
bond between freshly placed layers and properly prepared concrete or
shotcrete substrates. There are many articles available in the Shotcrete
magazine archivesfound on our website, that may provide the designer
or owner more information to allow them to make their design decision.

Question 215:
I have been experiencing slow curing times (early set times). Every year
during the wet season, my shotcrete curing times go from 1 MPa (145 psi) in
2 hours to 1 MPa (145 psi) in 8 hours. I believe that there is a change in the
materials when the groundwater comes up. I have had water tests done, but
Im not sure what to be looking at. The recycled water that was being used
had a pH of 5.7. We changed water, the problem was still there, and the pH
is now 9.7. What effects does the pH level have?

A pH of 5.7 is slightly acidic, while 9.7 is quite alkaline. According to PCAs
Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures, most inorganic acids have no
adverse effect on concrete. Organic acids (such as tannic acid) can
significantly reduce strength when present in higher concentrations. Some
alkaline materials, such as sodium hydroxide, in higher concentrations may
cause a quick set. However, because this occurs in the rainy season, another
factor that may have an impact is an increase in dissolved solids. PCA states
that solid contents exceeding 50,000 ppm can increase water demand,

accelerate set, lower compressive strength, and increase permeability of the

hardened concrete. The appropriate test for acceptable non-potable concrete
mixing water is ASTM C1602/C1602M, Standard Specification for Mixing
Water Used in the Production of Hydraulic Cement Concrete.

Question 216:
We are working on an historical renovation project where the existing
structure has been reinforced with shotcrete. We need to attach structural
studs/furring members to the face of this shotcrete. Is there any difference
between standard concrete and shotcrete when it comes to fastener embed
depth? We are considering powder-actuated fasteners (Hilti-type) or Tap

The embedment depth of anchors in shotcrete would be the same as it would
be for conventionally formed and placed concrete. Shotcrete is essentially a
method of placing concrete and the same rules would apply. As with any
anchoring system, it is important to make sure that you are anchoring to
sound material.

Question 217:
Our company is carrying out a tunnel project in rather poor geological
conditions, including water seepage and poor rock, with wire mesh and two
layers of steel mat. What is the reasonable rebound percentage in such

Shotcrete rebound varies for many different reasons, many of which you
mention in your question. The water seepage must be controlled or the
shotcrete will likely not adhere to the surface and will slough off as the water
saturates the fresh shotcrete. Accelerator will help, but it is difficult, if not
impossible, to achieve good results against a seeping surface. ACI 506R-05,
Guide to Shotcrete, estimates approximate range of shotcrete losses from
10 to 30%. Some other factors affecting the percentage of rebound are:

Mixture design
Shotcrete process (wet- or dry-mix)
Concrete mixture design and materials (for example, micro-silica will tend
to create less rebound; more than 30% coarse aggregate can cause more
Plastic concrete properties (air content, slump)
Nozzle man competence
Vertical placement generally has less rebound than overhead
Thickness of buildup per layer
Reinforcing grid
Size and spacing of reinforcing
Stability of reinforcing grid

Question 218:
I had wallpapered over a cement interior basement wall years ago. Recently,
when I removed the wallpaper and the liner beneath it, the shotcrete came
off with the paper. Is there any way I can repair these spots? Can the
shotcrete process cover a garage floor that is heavily pitted, has a few
cracks, and has some dirt and road salt marks? Will it hold up to road salt
and prevent further deterioration?

You mention that you had originally wallpapered over a cement interior
basement wall. It is not clear that the cement interior wall was placed using
the shotcrete process. If it was installed with the shotcrete process, then the
application was flawed due to improper surface preparation or application.
There are many concrete repair products on the market which could be used
to repair the surface. Many of these are troweled on by hand or sprayed.
Check with a local building supply company or on the Internet.
With respect to the garage floor, we would not recommend the shotcrete
process for a thin overlay on a horizontal surface. Again, there are many
products on the market that are designed for resurfacing floor slabs. Check
with a local building supply company or on the Internet for potential

Question 219:
I am interested in any information or suggestions you may have regarding
practical working space requirements for shotcrete applications. Shotcrete is
a common approach for sewer pipeline and storm-water culvert rehabilitation
projects. My concern relates to the space requirements necessary to best
ensure a quality installationfor pipelines, this boils down to the question:

What is the smallest diameter pipe that can be used for this method?
Technical specifications that I have come across call for a minimum of 3 ft. (1
m) between the surface being covered and the application nozzle. To me, this
means that pipes that are much smaller than 6 ft. (1.8 m) would create some
difficulty. Similarly, for applications between vertical walls, how much room
does a nozzle man need between the wall receiving the shotcrete and the
Are there robotic means or other methods in use that would allow shotcrete
applications without a hands-on nozzle man? Are there any other workspace
limitations or controls that should be considered when determining feasibility
of shotcrete application methods?

In the case of installing a lining inside of an existing pipe, there are robotic
methods available, such as spin lining, where the cementations material is
cast from a rotating head as the carrier is moved along the pipe. For pipe
smaller than 42 in. (1067 mm) diameter, the spin lining is likely the best
For pipe larger than 42 in. (1067 mm) and up to 6 or 8 ft. (1.8 or 2.4 m)
diameter, either hand shotcrete nuzzling or spin lining are applicable. For
pipes much larger than 6 to 8 ft. (1.8 to 2.4 m), hand nuzzling is likely the
In the case of clearance between a wall to be concreted and an obstruction,
3 ft. (1 m) is a good rule of thumb, but a qualified and experienced shotcrete
contractor can use modified equipment to place quality shotcrete in tighter
spaces. A recent article on shotcreting in confined spaces can be found here.

Question 220:
We have a vertical shaft. That is (right now) 70 ft. (21.3 m) deep and we do
blasting every 5 ft. (1.5 m) applying shotcrete to the vertical surface
for protection. My concern is that if we have less than 48 hours between
successive blasting, is it allowable? How does one measure if the shotcrete
reaches the required percentage of strength?

The best guidance on this subject can be found in ACI 506.5, Guide for
Specifying Underground Shotcrete (available through the ASA Bookstore),
and some articles from past issues of Shotcrete magazine might be of

"Shotcrete Spraying Machines for Immediate Support in Tunnels"

"Slope Stabilization in an Open Pit Mine"
"Where Are We Now with Sprayed Concrete Lining in Tunnels?"
"The Danger of Fallouts in Overhead Shooting"
"Incline TunnelS&S Quarries, Inc."
"Reaching 20 MPa (2900 psi) in 2 Hours is Possible"
"Rapid-Setting Cement in Shotcrete"
With properly qualified nozzle men, a good shotcrete mixture, and highquality accelerator added at the nozzle, the re-entry time can be minimal
normally 24 hours.

Question 221:
I know that there are many factors that affect the distance that shotcrete can
be pumped. For a dry-mix process, is there a rule of thumb for a maximum
recommended horizontal pumping distance?

The best information on this subject can be found in ACI 506R-05, Guide to
Shotcrete, and likely in past articles in Shotcrete magazine. The distance
that can be pumped is a function of too many parameters to fit a rule of
thumb. The distance that can be pumped is influenced by the equipment
being used, the vertical lift., the available compressed air, and other factors.
We would suggest that you consult with one of our corporate members
( in the area of the project and get their

Question 222:
We would like to place 4 in. (100 mm) thick shotcrete reinforced with welded
wire reinforcement and anchoring bolts in a water pressure tunnel. The water
velocity would be between 10 and 16.4 ft./s (3 and 5 m/s). We would like to
know if there is a possibility of erosion or cavitation of the shotcrete at this
It is mentioned in our concrete manual that cavitation and destructive
erosion begin when water velocities reach about 40 ft./s (12 m/s). Because
the roughness of the shotcrete surface is higher than the concrete surface, is
erosion more likely to occur? Do you know what may be the maximum water
velocity acceptable for reinforced shotcrete?


Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete and the surface finish can be as

smooth as that of cast concrete. Even with a nozzle finish, shotcrete erosion
or cavitation should not be an issue at the stated velocities. Examples of
smooth shotcrete surfaces can be found in many Shotcrete magazine articles
and in particular ("Restoring the Century-Old Wachusett Aqueduct").

Question 223:
We are shooting 5000 psi (34.5 MPa) shotcrete. Because of rising
temperatures, the mixture is getting too stiff to pump, and the inspector will
not let us add water. What should be done in this situation??

At the point at which concrete/shotcrete temperature is starting to rise and
the mixture is stiffening up, adding water should not be allowed. Water
should only be added when the mixture is stable and only up to the water
specified in the approved mixture design. In warm or hot conditions,
retarders, set stabilizing admixtures, or ice may be needed to keep the
mixture stable for the period of time to transport and pump the load.

Question 224:
Is there any documentation showing that it is okay to tie off to a man-lift.
basket? I have never found any. How do other contractors deal with ACI
requirements of an air lance, knowing that OSHA has contradicting standards
of air wand pressure?

OSHA requires that the personnel in aerial man baskets be tied off with the
appropriate harness and lanyard. When you are in a JLG or other type of man
lift., the only place to tie off to is to the basket or boom bracket. This
question may be better answered by studying current OSHA documents.
We cannot recall any of our members being cited for using an air lance or
blow pipe.

Question 225:

Can you refer me to the standards for adding water to ready mixed

Wet-mix shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Ready mixed
concrete used for wet-mix shotcrete needs to meet the requirements of ACI
506.2-13, Specification for Shotcrete. ACI 506.2 specifies concrete
materials shall meet ASTM C94/C94M, Standard Specification for ReadyMixed Concrete. ACI 506.2 also requires you shall batch, mix, and deliver
wet-mixture shotcrete in accordance with Specification C94/C94M, or
Specification C1116/C1116M if fiber-reinforced. Further guidance may be
found in ACI 506R-05, Guide to Shotcrete, and ACI 304R-00, Guide for
Measuring, Mixing, Transporting, and Placing Concrete.

Question 226:
Could you provide information regarding the appearance of efflorescence on
a newly constructed 2 million gal? (7.57 million L) holding tank? The tank
was constructed correctly and has held water for over 6 months. A leak test
shows no water loss over a 72-hour period, and no moisture has been seen
The tank was painted the shotcrete was properly cured. (The applied
paint was inspected by a NACE inspector and found to be approximately 7
mils [0.2 mm] and meets the specification.) At what point will this stop and
what is the best practice to prevent it from happening again? Would covering
the areas where it has occurred with additional paint seal the cracks??

Efflorescence is common on many exposed concrete and cement mortar
applications. Generally it is seen when cracks in concrete or mortar are
exposed to water rather than accumulating within the crack. The basic
mechanism creating efflorescence is when concrete is exposed to water for a
long time; excess free lime (calcium hydroxide) in the cement paste goes
into solution with water (leaches). Then when that water eventually leaves
the crack and dries on the surface, the white residue of calcium hydroxide
It is very common to see efflorescence on brick structures where the mortar
joints are exposed to rainwater that leaches out the calcium hydroxide and

the resulting white efflorescence is highlighted on the dark-colored face of

the brick. In concrete tanks, it is oft.en found in cracks that can accumulate
water for a sufficient time to leach the calcium hydroxide. The bottoms of
vertical cracks or low areas in horizontally oriented cracks oft.en show the
greatest buildup of efflorescence. These can be surface cracks that are
exposed to rainwater or through wall cracks that are exposed to water
Although the tank was cured properly to help deal with long-term drying
shrinkage, surface cracking on shotcrete oft.en results from early-age plastic
shrinkage cracks. These are shallow cracks that form within hours (or
minutes, in extreme conditions) of placement due to rapid evaporation of
water from the exposed surface of fresh concrete (common in exposed floor
To answer your question regarding when it will stop, the answer is it wont
unless the cracks are sealed, or water is prevented from getting into the
cracks. Cement-rich shotcrete has more than enough free lime to continue
the leaching for decades. Although surface-applied coatings may initially
span small cracks, as the walls of tanks expand and contract due to filling
and emptying, and undergoing daily and seasonal thermal changes, the
surface cracks will open and close slightly and eventually mirror through the
coating. Coatings designed to tolerate moving cracks would likely be much
thicker than the 7 mils used on your project. If the cracks are through-wall
cracks that are seeping from the contained water, the crack will need to be
sealed, most commonly by injection of polyurethane grout or interior surface
To answer your question on how to prevent this in the future, early-age
plastic shrinkage cracks can be reduced by fogging the fresh shotcrete
surface to keep the surface humidity high and reduce evaporation of the
water at the surface of the concrete. Also, using fibers in the shotcrete can
help reduce plastic shrinkage cracking. In hot or windy climates, placing the
final layer of shotcrete during the coolest or calmest time of the day may
To answer the question if additional paint would seal the cracks, simply
coating with an additional 7 mil (0.2 mm) coating would provide a temporary
seal, but more than likely the crack will mirror through some period of
exposure. A coating designer would need to evaluate the crack widths and
potential movement to design a coating system that would provide a longterm
Finally, the efflorescence caused by exposure to rainwater is generally only a
visual defect and doesnt affect the long-term structural integrity or
durability of the tank. Many owners tolerate efflorescence on the tanks and
simply clean it off when it becomes objectionable.

Question 227:
We have a large project involving shotcreting soffits in an underground
parking garage. The shotcreting overhead is not the problem; the problem is
properly screening the excess shotcrete from the ceiling leaving a semismooth finish.

Properly screening and finishing overhead shotcrete is very challenging. The
contractors who do this type of work properly have very well-trained and
skilled tradesmen throughout the crew, including the nozzle men, rodman,
and finishers. Shotcrete that is not screened and finished properly will likely
suffer bonding and other issues.

Question 228:
We are involved in the design of a hydro project in a section of a waterconveyance power tunnel; we are considering using shotcrete reinforced with
welded wire reinforcement as a final liner. In this particular section, the
tunnel is under an internal water pressure of 189 psi (1.3 MPa) and water
velocities in the range of 16.4 ft./s (5 m/s) can be expected. We have not
found any examples of such a design/use at this water velocity and are
concerned about long-term durability and potential erosion of the shotcrete
Would you have any information regarding the ability of shotcrete to resist
water erosion, particularly at 16.4 ft./s (5 m/s)? (Any examples would be
appreciated.) What additive can be used to reduce the porosity of the
projected mixture?

Shotcrete is simply a placement method for concrete, so characteristics of
concrete that are resistant to erosion are equally applicable to shotcrete. ACI
210R-93, Erosion of Concrete in Hydraulic Structures, has guidance on flow
characteristics that lead to erosion of concrete. Also, ACI 350-06, Code
Requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures and
Commentary, Sections 4.6.2 and 4.6.3, also provide guidance on concrete
mixture characteristics helpful for protecting against cavitation erosion.

Properly designed shotcrete mixtures can easily meet the ACI 350 4.6.3
In 2000, Rusty Morgan compiled a list of some 37 water supply tunnels that
had been lined with shotcrete (a copy of the data sheet can be supplied upon
request). Shotcrete was not the final lining in all of these tunnels and not all
the inverts were lined with shotcrete. The evaluation does not document the
water velocity in these tunnels, but could be ascertained by contacting the
It should be noted, however, that the 16.4 ft./s (5 m/s) water flow rate is not
particularly fast. The water velocity needs to be in excess of 39.3 ft./s (12
m/s) before cavitation erosion can be expected (refer to A. M. Neville,
Properties of Concrete) and cavitation would be the most likely cause of
Supplemental cementations materials including micro silica, fly ash, and slag
will generally reduce the porosity of the hardened concrete. Micro silica is
used in many shotcrete mixtures, as it helps to reduce rebound, as well as
gives the fresh concrete better adhesion and cohesion that can allow for
thicker or overhead placements.

Question 229:
I have a client with an old, soft.-stone masonry building of approximately 150
years of age. The mortar is badly deteriorated and the stone is quite friable. I
am advocating the use of shotcrete as an application to the interior face of
the walls that will restore both in-plane and out-of-plane strength to the
My client has expressed concern that there may be incompatibility issues
between the stone masonry and the shotcrete both from a structural
stiffness perspective as well as from a moisture intrusion perspective. (We
have successfully used shotcrete over stone masonry in the past.)
Do you have any information you can share with me on this topic? Do you
have either examples of incompatibility or successful use of shotcrete over
stone masonry?

As you have noted, shotcrete has been used extensively to reinforce
unreinforced or under-reinforced masonry walls and rock walls. It has been
used on the Crater Lake Lodge to strengthen and stabilize a rock wall
foundation and any number of other projects. In California, shotcrete has
been used to strengthen or repair walls since the 1933 Long Beach
Earthquake. It was used to strengthen the California State Capitol (3 ft. [0.9
m] thick brick walls) in the late 1970s and all of the older unreinforced

masonry walls for the San Francisco School District. To the best of our
knowledge, there have been no failures of shotcrete strengthening on the
West Coast in the past 80 years.

Question 230:
Why is there not more extensive use of fiberglass reinforcing bars? It seems
like it would be a natural choice for most projects involving shotcrete in wet
applications, as well as conventionally placed concrete, especially in the
types of jobs we do, such as the rehabilitation of existing concrete channels
that usually contain acidic waters. I understand that anything other than
steel is more expensive, but isnt prevention now cheaper than remediation

Although similar in dimensions, fiberglass reinforcing has distinctly different
structural properties when compared to conventional steel reinforcement.
This is a question better answered by the fiberglass reinforcing industry or
the structural engineering community. As the American Shotcrete
Association, we do not get involved in the engineering design of structural
sections. However, it should be pointed out that properly designed and
applied shotcrete provides a very corrosion-resistant environment around
embedded steel reinforcement, providing excellent long-term durability in
normal exposure conditions.

Question 231:
We are replacing an undersized box culvert carrying a creek under a road
with a vehicular bridge. To reduce excavation limits, we are using top-down
caisson wall construction with shotcrete facing between caissons for
abutments and wing walls. The shotcrete will be placed in lift.s as soil is
The architectural pattern for the face of the abutments and wing walls is a
rectangular pattern of an indented, V-shaped notch. The notches have a
maximum depth of 2 in. (51 mm). The structural portion of the shotcrete wall
will be 12 in. (305 mm) thick with steel reinforcement. Can this horizontal
and vertical V-notch pattern be formed or stamped into the face of the
structural wall (with additional thickness as required for pattern) in one wall
placement? Or does the pattern have to be a separate placement the
If this is done in two placements, I assume that we would need reinforcing
bars from the structural portion of the wall into the architectural placement
and reinforcement within the architectural placement to lock it in place.

What is the minimum required thickness of the architectural layer to account

for reinforcing bar embedded from the structural layer and the required
reinforcing bar in the architectural layer?

There are many ways to approach this situation. It would be difficult, but not
impossible, to install all of the work in a top-down sequence and end up with
Approach 1: Install a minimal initial layer top-down with either fibers or
welded wire reinforcement. Install dowels from the caissons into the
structural facing layer. Install the facing from the bottom up with preplaced
V-strips to make the pattern. Finish to the outermost face of the detail strips.
Alternately tool the details, but likely more like 1 in. (25 mm) instead of 2 in.
Approach 2: Install the structural wall top-down, encapsulating the outer
reinforcing steel to a plane at the depth of the detail strips. Prepare the
surface by sandblasting or water blasting to create a favorable bonding
surface. Install detail strips to the face of the roughened wall. Place and
If the base layer is properly prepared, the bond should be very good and
adding dowels would be redundant. There is nothing wrong with redundancy
and if so, the minimum layer thickness would be 2 to 3 in. (51 to 76 mm).
The nature of this work will mandate the use of a highly qualified shotcrete
subcontractor who has experience in installing similar-quality architecturally
significant walls.

Question 232:
Do we need to coat reinforcing steel sandblasting and prior to
placement of product?

The answer is no; shotcrete will bond well to sandblasted reinforcing bar on
overhead or vertical applications. Shotcrete, like conventionally placed
concrete, can be placed over uncoated black bar or bar that is coated with
rust inhibitors. In repair areas where there is heavy scale on the reinforcing
bar and spalling of the concrete, the repair can sometimes include some sort
of reinforcing bar treatment or inclusion of a rust inhibitor in the shotcrete
mixture. It depends on the situation and the assessment of the design
engineer as to what is necessary.

Question 233:

Is shotcrete applied to hardened cast-in-place concrete considered

monolithic by the American Concrete Institute (ACI)? Is shotcrete-toshotcrete considered monolithic by ACI? Can either of these connections be
made watertight? Or at least as watertight as the concrete? Is shotcrete
without admixtures truly watertight or waterproof? (My definition of
watertight would be a measurable amount or more than leaching of
moisture and calcium.)

Shotcrete properly applied to a well-prepared existing concrete surface will
create an excellent bond and structurally act as a monolithic system without
joints or layers. Pull off testing of shotcrete applied to concrete will oft.en fail
in the underlying concrete substrate, and not at the bond interface or within
Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete and should have similar water
tightness characteristics. These characteristics can be enhanced with
admixtures and supplementary cementations materials such as silica fume.
Please refer to the images of cores from shotcrete applied to existing

Question 234:
I have a 24 in. (610 mm) thick concrete dome that serves as an enclosure to
protect extremely sensitive and important equipment that needs to
withstand high impact demands such as tornados or missiles. The contractor
is proposing to use the shotcrete method with the following sequence: shoot
approximately 1 in. (25 mm) (to achieve reinforcing bar cover); let stand for
8 hours; then place a reinforcing mat; then shoot the majority of the dome
thickness; let stand for 8 hours; then place the other mat of reinforcing; then
I am concerned that, with an 8-hour duration between concrete placements,
the three layers of concrete will not be adequately bonded such that they
behave monolithically. In particular, I would be concerned that the aggregate
of the concrete that is shot onto a mat of reinforcement will not be able to
make its way behind the bars deformation, thus causing voids.
Please let me know your thoughts on the aforementioned concerns, whether
it would be reasonable to shoot a 24 in. (610 mm) dome with a minimum of
two layers of reinforcement all at once, and whether any of the ACI codes or
standards speak to shotcrete joints parallel to reinforcement.


Multi-layer build out of shotcrete sections is very common and has decades
of successful performance in existing structures. Shotcrete applied to a
properly prepared, existing hardened concrete substrate (such as a
previously shot shotcrete layer) develops an excellent bond. The highvelocity impact of shotcrete on the surface is in effect like sandblasting, and
opens up the receiving surface immediately before exposing it to the fresh
cementations paste. Cores taken through multiple layered shotcrete sections
exhibit no signs of reduced bond. Oft.en it is nearly impossible to identify
Incremental placement of reinforcing bars in layered application is also
common. Proper shotcrete consistency, nozzle man technique, and air
velocity will force fresh cement paste around the back of the bar and fully
encase the reinforcing bar, even when in contact with the previous hardened
Shooting a 24 in. (610 mm) thickness at one time with two layers of
reinforcement in the mostly overhead orientation of a dome would require
use of special concrete mixture designs with chemical accelerators, and
would be very difficult to execute with consistent quality. Also, depending on
the formwork design, unbalanced loading on the dome by shooting very thick
sections adjacent to sections not yet shot would be a potential concern.
For more information on the performance of shotcrete in layers, you can
review this article from Shotcrete magazine, Shotcrete Placed in Multiple
Layers does NOT Create Cold Joints.

Question 235:
I am searching for criteria/guidelines or ratings on what different profiles are
achieved by shotcrete. I am hoping there are installed shotcrete profile
requirements with respect to final surface roughness. We manufacture a
waterproofing system and are oft.en asked to be installed over shotcrete, to
which we have no objections. However, I am hoping there are
criteria/guidelines/ratings on achieved profile of the finished surface. For
example: The concrete industry oft.en talks about roughness achieved by
shot blasting and the surfaces getting to various degrees between CSP-1 to
Is there a criteria/guideline/rating system, or something similar with
shotcrete? Here is the link to some such guidelines.

Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete. The surface texture of roughness
varies considerably depending on the application and the abilities of the
installer. The surface can vary from a rough nozzle finish to a smooth trowel
finish and many variations between these two extremes. In buildings, the
typical finishes are wood float, rubber float, or trowel finish. The owner and

the architect determine what finish will be required and generally specify the
finish in the construction documents. The documents which might be of help
to you are ACI 506R, Guide to Shotcrete, ACI 301, Specifications for
Structural Concrete, and ACI 117, Specification for Tolerances for Concrete
Construction and Materials.

Question 236:
An inspection report on our home indicated there was evidence of past
rodent infiltration. An engineering consulting firm recommended that, to
prevent rodents from burrowing underneath the foundation, we have a
contractor apply shotcrete across the entire crawlspace bottom, then have a
2 oz. (60 mL) vapor barrier installed on top of it. The barrier would be glued
As there is some shrinkage of the concrete during the curing process, I would
expect creatures could later emerge between the shotcrete and crawlspace
sides. Have you heard this type of shotcrete application in a crawlspace as a
structural pest barrier? What thickness should the shotcrete be? Is this use of
shotcrete effective? Are there any potential drawbacks to using shotcrete in
this way, such as possible problems with the house later on?

Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete and the properties of shotcrete are
equivalent to those of cast concrete. The type of work you are describing is
done in many cases with the shotcrete process and is commonly called rat
proofing. As you have engaged an engineer, we would suggest you follow
his advice and he should determine the thickness required. Providing a row
of dowels around the stem wall to tie the shotcrete to the wall should
eliminate any significant separation between the shotcrete and the stem
wall. Shrinkage of concrete between the walls may cause some minor
hairline cracking, but nothing to allow ingress of rodents or insects.

Question 237:
We have a client who is looking to make a relatively deep cut in a mixture of
soils and rock (approximately. 50 ft. [15.2 m] high, maximum; the structures
will be placed on a pad at the bottom of the cut). We are looking to provide a
The upper portion of the cut will be in soil; therefore, the design of a soil nail
wall with temporary and permanent facing in the soil region seems to be
relatively straightforward using design guidance in FHWA publications,
Geotechnical Engineering Circular #7, and some soft.ware programs.
Significant portions of the exposed cut face, however, consist of nondurable

bedrock (clay stone). We want to stabilize this area with shotcrete to prevent
weathering and the generation of overhang conditions where the clay stone
I have been unable to find design procedures or guidance on specifying
shotcrete (thickness, reinforcement type, etc.) and whether or not rock bolts
should be used. If so, how do you select the size, spacing, resin type, etc.?

Soil and rock stabilization is an excellent application for shotcrete. However,
ASA as an association does not provide engineering design. We recommend
consulting with a geotechnical engineer familiar with the local geology and
soil conditions to evaluate potential lateral earth forces from the clay stone.
Once potential loads are established, a consulting engineer experienced with
shotcrete in soil nailing applications will be able to design the soil nail facing.
You can check our online Buyers Guide to find a consulting engineer
experienced with shotcrete.

Question 238:
I need to know about use of carbon fiber in shotcrete. Would you please
inform me about some resources? Is carbon fiber suitable for shotcrete?

We would suggest that you refer to an ACI document, ACI 506.1R, Guide to
Fiber-Reinforced Shotcrete. Carbon fibers are suitable for use in shotcrete in
suitably designed mixtures.

Question 239:
I own a home on a very busy street and the house placement borders the
street, approximately 75 ft. (23 m) from the curb. Traffic flow has increased
over the past year, and I have tried all suggested and approved
It would seem that a shotcrete product sprayed within a wall cavity would
work great. My assumption is that I would need to insulate the outward face
of the cavity enough to prevent excessive condensation and moisture
buildup. This would certainly solve the sound problem (depending on the
mass sprayed). Are there any suggestions or references you might be able
direct me to?


A properly designed shotcrete composite wall system would certainly create

a quiet atmosphere in the interior of the house. There are 3-D shotcrete wall
systems on the market which use shotcrete on both the interior and exterior
surfaces with a foam material in the center for insulation and vapor barrier.
Attempting to do something like this to an existing structure would require a
lot of analysis. Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete and adding
shotcrete to an existing wall would significantly increase the weight of the
wall and could overload the footings or impact other parts of the system. A
structural engineer well-versed in residential construction should be
consulted before attempting such a modification.

Question 240:
We are in the process of renovating a commercial pool with a gutter system.
The plaster surface has been removed along with some of the concrete. The
wall of the gutter on the water side is tiled and is crumbling away. Our plan is
When we shoot the walls back we will be adding 1 to 2 in. (25 to 51 mm) of
shotcrete at a maximum. Is this too thin for shotcrete? Also, the gutter edge
will be 2 in. (51 mm) thick and 4 in. (102 mm) in height without any
reinforcing barwill this have much strength?

Shotcrete can be placed as thin as 1 to 2 in. (25 to 51 mm), but will do little
more than to provide a new surface to apply the plaster. To do a proper job
you need to remove all loose and deteriorated existing shotcrete and should
likely add in a layer of reinforcement or use structural fibers (either steel or
synthetic) in the shotcrete mixture. The surface preparation should be done
to the standards outlined by the International Concrete Repair Institute

Question 241:
I have a project in Fort Worth, TX, where we will be placing shotcrete on
some interior walls that will have steel embeds for other structural supports.
Do you have an article or literature regarding good practices of shotcrete
placement around steel embeds?


Shooting around embeds can be very challenging. The most important factor
is to have the work done by a shotcrete subcontractor who has done this
successfully in the past and has ACI Certified Nozzle men who are also
experienced in this type of work. It has been done successfully on many
projects in the past, but we do not have a published procedure to do this

Question 242:
We are building a pool using shotcrete, and our pool design team has been
asked to use the Aquron pool shell protector. The info from Aquron says for
best results, spray the CPSP the morning the shotcrete has been
applied. However, our shotcrete company told us to keep the shell damp for
a minimum of 7 days. Could you weigh in on this?

The ICC (International Code Council) Building Code requires a 7-day wet cure,
which is good practice for concrete or shotcrete. The Aquron Technical Data
Sheet mentions pre wetting the surface prior to application, but we do not
see the direction on the timing. You may want to question the product
representative regarding how to accomplish the ICC curing requirements and
also get the best results from their product.

Question 243:
I am considering using shotcrete for lining storm water conveyance ditches
at a project site, and am trying to find any possible information on the
potential for shotcrete (or other cement products for that matter) to leach
selenium. Please advise if you have any information regarding this topic.

Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete. Thus, testing for selenium
appropriate for concrete is suitable for shotcrete. The Portland Cement
Association (PCA) has published a paper on testing of cement for various
constituent components, including selenium, to meet NSF 61 requirements.
Their testing showed Values for arsenic, cadmium, selenium, and silver were
all below detection limits. The paper can be found at PCAs website.

Question 244:

How soon a surface is concreted can it be submerged with stream

water? What if the water has no velocity?

Shotcrete is a means of placing concrete and the same precautions should
be taken. Once the shotcrete had taken final set, exposing it to water and
submerging it in water should enhance its curing. If it is a pool or other deep
structure, you should ensure that the shotcrete or concrete is strong enough
to withstand any hydrostatic loading due to the filling of the structure.