Technical Questions and Answers Archive2020-02-26T17:30:07+00:00

The ASA Technical Questions and Answers is a free service offered to all users, but primarily intended for engineers, architects, owners and anyone else who may be specifying the shotcrete process and/or has need for a possible answer to a technical question.

User agreement: The answers provided to submitted questions are intended for guidance in planning and executing shotcrete applications. This information is intended only for the use of individuals who are competent to evaluate the significance and limitations of its content and recommendations, and who will accept responsibility for the application of the material it contains. The American Shotcrete Association provides this information based on the best knowledge available to them and disclaims any and all responsibility for the information provided. The American Shotcrete Association will not be liable for any loss or damage arising therefrom.

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I have a project with a segmental retaining wall. The project is located in Maryland. The CMUs of the retaining wall have significantly deteriorated in several areas. The geo-grid fabric appears to be in good condition in the areas where it could be observed. I suspect the deterioration is caused by saltwater runoff during snow events combined with the freeze/thaw cycles. There are some localized areas where the masonry units have completely disintegrated. The largest area being approximately 4 ft2 (0.37 m2). Is it feasible to remove the deteriorated masonry material, down to a sound surface, and shotcrete the face to restore (or exceed) the structural integrity of masonry units? If so, will this restore the structural integrity of the segmental retaining wall?2024-01-05T19:47:59+00:00

Shotcrete is routinely used for the repair of deteriorated concrete masonry and brick. Shotcrete should easily have a minimum compressive strength of 4000 psi (28 MPa) when properly shot and cured. According to the National Concrete Masonry Association, current CMU units have a minimum 2000 psi (14 MPa) compressive strength. Older CMU had a lower 1500 psi (10 MPa) minimum. Thus, the shotcrete placement will be significantly stronger and less permeable than the in-place CMU. This should give the wall better resistance to saltwater and freeze-thaw exposures thus extending useful life.

Depending on the depth of the new shotcrete placement, you may consider mechanically tying the shotcreted layer back to the sound CMU with epoxy or mechanically embedded anchors or j-bolts. Thicker sections may also benefit from the use of a steel wire mesh or fibers.

 When shooting onto existing CMU sections, the surface must be properly prepared and then shotcreted with proper shotcrete materials, equipment, and placement techniques. Shotcrete placed onto an existing CMU surface will provide an excellent bond IF the following conditions are met:

  • Make sure the surface is roughened and clean.
  • The amplitude of roughness should be +/- 1/8th in. (3 mm) or more.
  • A high-pressure water blaster (5000 psi [34 MPa] or more) or abrasive blasting can help to roughen and clean the surface.
  • Bring the CMU surface to a saturated surface dry (SSD) condition. This means the surface feels damp, but water is not picked up on a hand.
  • Make sure the shotcrete placement is properly executed with high-velocity placement and quality materials.
  • The shotcrete should have a minimum 28-day compressive strength of 4000 psi (28 MPa).
  • Be sure the shotcrete contractor is using an air compressor able to produce at least 185 CFM (5.2m3/min) for wet-mix and 375 CFM (10.6 m3/min) for dry-mix (gunite) of air flow at 100 to 120 psi (0.7 to 0.8 MPa).
  • Use of an ACI-certified shotcrete nozzleman is recommended.
  • No bonding agent should be used. It will interfere with the natural bonding characteristics of shotcrete placement.

 Finally, without details on the loading conditions, and structural details of the original construction, we cannot comment on the structural integrity of the repaired wall. You should contact a professional engineer experienced in concrete repair to evaluate the structural integrity of the wall when repaired.

We are having a pool installed and would like to know if shotcrete should be placed when severe weather is forecasted for late in the day or the next day? Is it possible to cover the area after application to protect it?2023-10-30T14:21:17+00:00

Shotcrete is a method for placing concrete. Concrete has a set time that provides hardness of the in-place concrete. Final set may take anywhere from an hour to several hours depending on the concrete mixture and the weather.

Hot weather has a faster set time than cold weather with the same concrete mixture. If the pool is shot in the morning, it may be hard enough to tolerate a rainstorm in the late afternoon. The concrete should certainly be set by the next day unless there is a very cold overnight temperature or a problem with retarder in the concrete mixture. Tarps could be placed over the vertical walls to protect them from a sudden rainstorm. The floor may be harder to protect as the rainwater wouldn’t necessarily drain off the floor.

If concrete is exposed to rain and the surface isn’t washed off in any way, the concrete should be good. Similarly, if you are expecting freezing temperatures overnight, the fresh concrete must be protected from freezing. This may require using vented heaters and insulated blankets. The goal of the cold weather protection is to keep the surface temperature of the fresh concrete above 50°F (10°C). More details on cold weather protection can be found in ACI PRC-306-16 Guide to Cold Weather Concreting available directly from ACI’s bookstore (

Please direct me to the proper guidelines for the hydration of shotcrete.2023-10-30T14:23:01+00:00

By hydration, I’m assuming you are referring to curing of freshly placed concrete. A minimum of 7 days of continuous wet curing is recommended. Continuous means the exposed concrete surface is wet the entire duration. Not just “watered” twice a day as has sometimes been suggested by contractors. Use of a spray-on curing membrane is an option if for some reason water curing is not practical.

If you are looking specifically at swimming pools, this ASA Pool and Recreational Shotcrete Committee Position Statement “Curing of Shotcrete for Swimming Pools” provides more details: SCMSummer21_PS7v2.pdf Also, for a more detailed look at curing, the American Concrete Institute (ACI) document, ACI PRC-308-16 Guide to External Curing of Concrete is an excellent reference.

You can find this at ACI’s bookstore ( Finally, a good reference on the basics of concrete, from materials to placement and curing, is the Portland Cement Association’s “Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures, 17th Edition.” You can find this on the PCA website bookstore.

We are a shotcrete company in Southern California, and I have a technical question about an issue that has recently come up. Is there any official ASA or ACI guide/spec that recommends or lays out the use of a certified nozzleman on a job that he was not “job site” approved for? For instance, a nozzleman who did not shoot a test panel was overseen by the approved nozzleman for that job site. I understand that the approved nozzleman can oversee another ACI-certified nozzleman on the job so that he can rest and oversee production. Seeing as the approved man is overseeing the nozzleman, is it the same as him shooting the wall himself?2023-10-30T14:21:47+00:00

It appears you are talking about a nozzleman who has not been pre-qualified by shooting a mockup panel on a specific project. There is no official ASA or ACI document that addresses this issue. However, this situation is similar to what ACI guidance provides regarding ACI-certified Shotcrete Nozzlemen and Nozzlemen-in-training. ACI’s Certification Program Policy for Shotcrete Nozzleman and Nozzleman-In-Training Section 1.04 states: “ACI Shotcrete Nozzleman-In-Training (NIT) certification is available to applicants who do not possess 500 hours of work experience but do possess a minimum of 25 hours of hand nozzling work experience in the process being sought (vertical orientation only). The examiner of record may require an ACI-certified nozzleman to be present during the performance exam; however, the ACI-certified nozzleman’s interaction with the examinee is strictly limited to the safety of the shooting operation.”

I have used ASA’s Position Statements from the Pool and Recreational Committee and find them very useful. Are there any design guides or books on shotcrete pool design that are available? I am a structural engineer and tend to design pools as retaining walls, but I believe some of my designs could be “value engineered” to reduce rebar in the case of walls with a vertical curve (base of the wall is curved and not straight) and possibly the use of a bond beam at the top.2023-06-07T16:35:16+00:00

The current International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC) has no provisions for design of concrete pool shells. Many structural engineers use ACI 350 Code Requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures for pool structures, especially commercial pools. ACI 350 is based on ACI 318 Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete but has modifications to provide a design for concrete structures that are normally exposed to water, and thus need more crack control for watertightness. ACI 350 also addresses requirements for durability for concrete exposed to liquid so that structures will be expected to be serviceable for at least 50 to 100 yrs. Some engineers feel ACI 350 is overkill for pools and may use ACI 318, or just use their past experience. Generally, use of ACI 350 will require a higher percentage of reinforcing steel, have closer steel spacing and somewhat reduced tension in bars to control cracking. ACI 350’s concrete cover provisions may also be somewhat higher than ACI 318, to provide more corrosion protection of reinforcing. ACI Committee 506 is developing a guide document for construction of shotcrete pools, but does not directly address design. ACI has recently authorized a new technical committee to develop a Code for Design of Pools and Watershapes. However, staffing the committee and then developing a consensus standardized document will take several years.

Regarding the cove of the floor-wall joint, if you have a cove or the bond beam you can use the additional “d” distance for your vertical steel from external loads on the walls though the moment has to be carried in the thinner sections of the floor and wall adjacent to the cove. If you consider the bond beam is a stiffening element for the top of a straight wall acting as a panel between the ends in a rectangular plan pool you may be able to reduce some of the vertical bending stresses. However, that may be hard to quantify for a freeform pool without a more advanced analysis.

Regarding reference books you may find David Billington’s Thin Shell Concrete Shells useful for analysis and design of concrete shells. It is an old book (1982 for 2nd Edition) and may be hard to find but may be helpful. Hopefully ACI’s new Code Committee for Pools will set the standard of practice in the pool industry and be specifically referenced by ISPSC.

What would be the right concrete mixture for a swimming pool? I found out that a few concrete plants have different mixes, so I wanted to know what would be the correct one.2023-06-07T16:34:18+00:00

There is no special requirement for shotcrete placement in pools. Basically, you are building a watertight structural concrete shell. Concrete should be a minimum 28-day compressive strength of 4000 psi (28 MPa). Most shotcrete uses a 3/8 in. (10 mm) maximum coarse aggregate size due to our small diameter delivery lines. The coarse aggregate (rock) being about half the weight of the sand content. We typically need a cement-rich paste so minimum cementitious content (cement, fly ash, slag) of 700 lb/yd3. We also need a low w/cm ratio for the ability to stack in the wall so maximum of 0.45, with most wet-mix concrete 0.42 or less. You may find our ASA Position Statements for our Pool and Recreational Committee helpful in providing more detail. Our current statements include:

  • Compressive Strength Values of Pool Shotcrete
  • Shotcrete Terminology
  • Sustainability of Shotcrete in the Pool Industry
  • Watertight Shotcrete for Swimming Pools
  • Monolithic Shotcrete for Swimming Pools (No Cold Joints)
  • Forming and Substrates in Pool Shotcrete
  • Curing of Shotcrete for Swimming Pools

You can find the position statements freely available at

A new gunite pool of ours was sprayed in an irregular fashion by a non-certified worker in the Bahamas. For the most part, the pool looks good, but one wall was measured at 3 in. The rest of the pool is 6 in. The rebar in the thin area was encapsulated which was good, but a couple of linear cracks in the wall formed even after ample wetting during the initial cure period. Six months have gone by. Our plan now is to pressure wash the cracked areas and add an additional 6 to 8 in. of gunite thickness which may not look too bad since the pool is a natural lagoon style pool. Staples with gunite over the top would be the other option. What is your opinion?2023-06-07T16:33:47+00:00

Properly prepared surfaces along with proper shotcrete materials, equipment and placement techniques will produce a construction joint that acts monolithically and not be a “cold” joint. Shotcrete placed onto an existing concrete surface will provide an excellent bond IF the following conditions are met:

  1. Make sure the surface is roughened and clean.
    1. The amplitude the of roughness should be +/- 1/16th in. (1.6 mm) or more.
    2. If the surface was not roughened when it was shot be sure to have the contractor roughen it.
    3. A high-pressure water blaster (5000 psi [34 MPa] or more) or abrasive blasting can help to roughen and clean the surface.
  2. Bring the concrete surface to saturated surface dry (SSD) condition. This means the surface feels damp, but water is not picked up on a hand.
  3. Make sure the shotcrete placement is properly executed with high velocity placement and quality materials.
    1. The dry-mix shotcrete (Gunite) should have a minimum 28-day compressive strength of 4000 psi (28 MPa).
    2. Be sure the shotcrete contractor is using an air compressor able to produce at least 385 CFM (11 m3/min) of air flow at 120 psi (0.83 MPa).
    3. Use of an ACI-certified shotcrete nozzleman is recommended.
  4. No bonding agent should be used. It will interfere with the natural bonding characteristics of shotcrete placement.

This article on the excellent bond between shotcrete provides more detail:

The pool wall thickness is a part of the pool engineer’s design. Adding 6 to 8 in. to the existing 3 in. (75 mm) would be making the overall thickness 9 to 11 in. (225 to 275 mm). This would require more reinforcing steel, so you should verify with the pool designer the additional reinforcing steel requirements.

You may also find our ASA Position Statements on Pool Construction helpful as a reference for proper pool shotcrete construction. They are freely available at:

ACI 318-14 (Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete) requires post-installed expansion anchors to meet the testing criteria of ACI 355.2-07 (Qualification of Post-installed Mechanical Anchors in Concrete). ACI 355.2 specifies certain anchor testing and evaluation requirements to verify suitable anchor performance and to determine other aspects (such as failure mode) to use in conjunction with Chapter 17 of ACI 318 when designing the post-installed expansion anchors. Anchor testing is required largely to be performed by an independent agency and normally is conducted in normal weight and/or light weight concrete that meet pertinent ACI, ASTM and other requirements. Some post-installed expansion anchor manufacturers (like Hilti) have not had their anchors tested per ACI 355.2 in shotcrete type concrete, only tested in normal weight and light weight concrete. As such, these anchor manufacturers typically do not publish/offer any permitted load ratings, installation torques or other design and installation requirements for their expansion bolts when used in shotcrete. Instead, they recommend site testing to determine anchor performance or that the responsible design engineer can make an engineering judgment on anchor acceptability, as appropriate, if site testing is not performed. Do you have knowledge of any expansion bolt manufacturers that have tested their products is typical shotcrete? If yes to #1 above, do you know if the testing was done per ACI 355.2 requirements?2023-06-07T16:32:55+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. With proper equipment and placement techniques, concrete shotcreted in place will have strength, unit weight, permeability, and other hardened properties equivalent or superior to cast concrete consolidated by vibration. Due to delivering concrete material through relatively small diameter lines (1.5 to 2 in.) [38 to 51 mm] concrete mixtures for shotcrete placement typically limit the maximum coarse aggregate size to a nominal 3/8 to ½ in. (9.5 – 13 mm) size.

Thus, answering your specific questions:

  1. We are not aware of any expansion bolt manufacturers tests that used shotcrete placement of concrete for their test samples. However, tests on cast concrete should be equivalent with a given compressive strength and aggregate size/type in the concrete mixture.
  2. We expect that as answered in #1, that the tests run with ACI 355.2 requirements in cast concrete would have similar results when used with shotcrete placement of the concrete mixtures with similar hardened properties.

Also, note that ACI 318-19 directly includes shotcrete as a placement method for structural concrete.

We have a wet-mix shotcrete steel fiber overhead application progressing in our state. The question is about the use of a steel trowel finish, as opposed to say a magnesium or wood float finish. In the ASA Shotcrete Inspector seminar, it was stated that a steel trowel is less durable, reduces freeze-thaw resistance and shows cracking more proximately. As this particular application is overhead and, in a tunnel, there is not as much of a concern with water infiltration and the associated freeze-thaw exposure. We usually don’t allow steel trowels for flat work, due to deicing salts, but that concern wouldn’t apply here. My superintendent has asked me to reach out to you to see if you might have any further detailed advice on this type of application. Construction is wanting a smooth finish and looks do matter here as it is a high-profile project. If the DOT were to allow the steel trowel for finishing, what would be your concerns or suggestions to this approach?2023-06-07T16:31:59+00:00

Freeze-thaw deterioration is dependent on the concrete being saturated in multiple freezing/thawing cycles. In an overhead application, where water can’t stand on the surface, the concrete can’t be saturated unless water permeates through from the upper surface. And with good quality concrete in the tunnel, water shouldn’t permeate through, so it should be functionally watertight. As a result, freeze-thaw likely isn’t a critical durability issue.

A steel trowel finish does require extra working of the surface and would require the contractor to be very attentive to the proper time to obtain the finish yet not overly disturb the fresh concrete. Gravity is working against the overhead concrete staying in place.

Having a smooth steel trowel finish would make minor shrinkage cracks more noticeable. However, in the tunnel without exposure to sunlight or much wind exposure, and with proper attention to curing, perhaps surface cracking will be minimal.

I have a question regarding shotcrete pools. Does the ASA have a position on how to detail reinforcement at bulky elements that are shot interior to the main pool shell? This would typically involve stairs or large stoops. I notice a lot of contractors shoot these as unreinforced bulk elements, but this practice appears to promote cracking at the face of the pool shell. I’m only asking because I saw a few of these this past summer.2023-06-07T16:31:15+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Thus, any concrete structure using shotcrete placement should be designed using appropriate concrete design codes and standards. ASA does not have a published position on reinforcement of these types of pool elements though we are in the midst of developing one. As most concrete experiences drying shrinkage and associated cracking, most designers would include some level of reinforcement in these types of sections to control tensile stresses from shrinkage and temperature changes creating volume change in the concrete. ACI 350 (Code Requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures) is the ACI Code that deals with concrete liquid-containing structures with provisions specifically for providing liquid tightness and durability in continuously wet environments. The ACI 350 Code requires up to 0.5% reinforcement for shrinkage and temperature stresses. ACI 318 is the Concrete Code for Structures and requires 0.18% minimum reinforcement for shrinkage and temperature. Designers may choose to use the lower ACI 318 value since they consider the benches and steps not part of the water retaining pool shell. Other designers would consider the higher ACI 350 values as they are interested in better crack control. Overall, having a substantially unreinforced thickness of concrete would lead to more cracking that would be problematic in the pool.

I was taught in engineering courses that conventional concrete should not be counted on to carry tensile stress. For steel reinforced concrete, the reinforcing bar is designed to carry all tensile loads. Although concrete obviously has some tensile strength, it is too low and prone to cracking failure to consider it in design. In fact, I believe you can assume it is cracked from the shrinkage during curing. Is gunite treated the same way? I have a pool that is developing a crack through an elevated wall/beam and down into the plaster to the bottom floor at the sun shelf. I witnessed the plumbers cutting some rebar in the beam to allow for PVC plumbing to water sheer (up at top of beam, just under the tile topping) and I worry this is the root cause along with settlement that put the top of the beam in tension. The rebar down low should be intact and I hope the crack width may stay minor down in the plaster. On top of the tiles beam where the maximum tensile stress would have been, the crack is fairly wide. The crack movement opened up a gap in the grout line between tiles of about 0.08 to 0.10 in. (2-2.5 mm). I think it was a real sin for them to have cut the rebar. If it is necessary to reinforce the tensile side to halt future movement, I would think cutting a slot or two in the gunite across the crack (say 12 in. [300 mm] each side. Up high just under the water sheer) and epoxy a rebar in the slots.2023-06-07T16:30:31+00:00

Shotcrete, both dry-mix (gunite) and wet-mix are a placement method for concrete. Wet-mix uses premixed concrete while dry-mix simply adds water to the concrete materials at the nozzle. Both dry-mix and wet-mix with proper materials, equipment, and placement with produce quality concrete sections. The embedded reinforcement in the pool shell is designed to carry tensile loads. This may be bending stresses from structural loadings (settlement or water/backfill), or volume changes from drying shrinkage and temperature changes. Cutting a reinforcing bar would certainly negate its ability to carry loads in the vicinity of the cut and reduce the load carrying capacity until the development length allows the reinforcing bar to start carrying it full load.

The layout of your cracked section isn’t clear from your description. An 8 to 10 mil (2 to 2.5 mm) crack is sizable in a water-containing structure. Fixing the existing crack with a reinforcing bar epoxied in place across the crack may be effective. However, that solution would only carry any additional load on the section (structural or volume change), as the existing loads have already created cracks. Thus, you should also address filling the crack as part of the solution. This may be with epoxy injection or swellable polyurethane grouts. You should consult with the pool design engineer for their recommendation on the best method for repair.

We are reinforcing an exterior pool wall with shotcrete, and wanted to know what preparations need to take place for the shotcrete to adhere correctly, and what the minimum thickness needs to be? We also need to level out the floor up to 5 in. (125 mm) that will gradually go to zero to meet other side. Can shotcrete be used in this application?2023-06-06T23:45:29+00:00

When shooting onto existing concrete sections the surface must be properly prepared and then shotcreted with proper shotcrete materials, equipment, and placement techniques. This will produce a construction joint that acts monolithically and not be a “cold” joint. Shotcrete placed onto an existing concrete surface will provide an excellent bond IF the following conditions are met:

  1. Make sure the surface is roughened and clean.
    1. The amplitude of roughness should be +/- 1/16th in. (1.6 mm) or more.
    2. If the surface was not roughened when it was chipped out, be sure to have the contractor roughen it.
    3. A high-pressure water blaster (5000 psi [35 MPa] or more) or abrasive blasting can help to roughen and clean the surface.
  2. Bring the concrete surface to saturated surface dry (SSD) condition. This means the surface feels damp, but water is not picked up on a hand.
  3. Make sure the shotcrete placement is properly executed with high velocity placement and quality materials.
    1. The shotcrete should have a minimum 28-day compressive strength of 4000 psi (28 MPa).
  4. Be sure the shotcrete contractor is using an air compressor able to produce at least 185 ft3/min (5.2 m3/min) for wet-mix and 385 ft3/min (11 m3/min) for dry-mix (gunite) of air flow at 120 psi (0.8 MPa).
  5. Use of an ACI-certified shotcrete nozzleman is recommended.
  6. No bonding agent should be used. It will interfere with the natural bonding characteristics of shotcrete placement.
  7. A minimum thickness of no less than ½ in. (13 mm) is recommended.

This article on the excellent bond between shotcrete provides more detail:

Regarding the additional floor thickness, though it may be shotcreted by an experienced nozzleman, it is difficult to properly shoot horizontal surfaces and control rebound and overspray from the shotcrete placement. We suggest that casting and vibrating for consolidation the horizontal sections is preferred to shotcreting. You should consider a bonding agent since the concrete is cast against the existing concrete floor without any impact velocity. We would also not recommend tapering down to 0 in. thickness. The feather edge will tend to be an area that may easily spall over time. Thus, we recommend cutting an ½ to ¾ in. (13 to 19 mm) deep shoulder so the concrete can have some thickness at its thinnest locations.

I’m in the market for a saltwater pool and was wondering what the ASA recommended concrete compressive strength should be. I’ve read California mandates a 2500 psi (17 MPa) minimum, but some construction companies use 5000 psi (35 MPa). What is the ASA standard for a saltwater pool?2023-06-06T23:44:48+00:00

Our ASA Pool Position Statement on Compressive (Strength) Values of Pool Shotcrete states pool and shotcrete contractors have a responsibility to provide a pool structure that not only meets certain design specifications, but also meets basic durability values expected with shotcrete applications. The American Shotcrete Association’s (ASA) Pool and Recreational Shotcrete Committee and ASA Board of Direction have reaffirmed a 4000-psi minimum for in-place compressive strength pool concrete.

As a saltwater pool has a higher chloride content than fresh water you may want to consider using the requirements of ACI 350 (Code Requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures) where Table 4.2.2 – Requirements for Special Exposure Conditions has this requirement:

“For corrosion protection of reinforcement in concrete exposed to chlorides in tanks containing brackish water and concrete exposed to deicing chemicals, seawater, or spray from seawater – maximum water-cementitious. Materials ratio, by weight is 0.40 with a minimum 28-day compressive strength of 5000 psi.”

In summary the minimum 28-day compressive strength should be no less than 4000 psi, but for enhanced durability you may consider 5000 psi as required by ACI 350. You may find more guidance in our ASA Pool Position Statement “Watertight Shotcrete for Swimming Pools” at


I am a TBM Tunnel Engineer from India, and I was looking for information on the applicable compressed air pressure range required for a wet-mix shotcrete application (small shotcrete pump-capacity 7 CU.M/Hr) hand spraying with a 30m hose for a better-compacted mix. I would kindly request you to please send me information on the pressure range to be expected for good quality shotcrete placement of the concrete mix on the rock substrate in NATM Tunneling.2023-06-06T23:44:11+00:00

Wet-mix shotcrete depends on air flow at the nozzle to accelerate the concrete to 60 to 80 mph (100 kph to 130 kph). Most air compressors produce their air flow capacity at 100 to 120 psi (7 to 8.4 kg/cm2) at the compressor. However, depending on the size length and couplings in the air hose, there may significant pressure drops when the air reaches the nozzle. Here’s what ACI 506R-16 Guide to Shotcrete Section 4.4.2 states for wet-mix:

“The recommended ft3/min (m3/min) needed for the wet-mix process is between 200 to 400 ft3/min (5.7 to 11.3 m3/min) air volume at 100 psi (7 bar). Higher air volume capacities are needed for higher volume and higher-velocity shotcrete applications. If a blowpipe is to be used during the shooting process, more air will be required to run both operations simultaneously. Conducting a test during the preconstruction testing phase using a blowpipe while gunning the wet-mix material will indicate if the air compressor has enough air volume capacity to perform both tasks at the same time. Long, small-diameter lines may not provide sufficient air volume capacity, even with a large air compressor. Test and consider increasing the size of the air line.”

Though there is no direct guidance for air pressure at the wet-mix nozzle you may consider the guidance for dry-mix air pressure in ACI 506R Section 4.4.1:

“The operating air volume (ft3/min [m3/min]) drives the material from the gun into the hose, and the air pressure is measured at the material outlet or air inlet on the gun. The operating pressure varies directly with the hose length, the density of the material mixture, the height of the nozzle above the gun, and the number of hose bends. Experience has shown that operating pressures should not be less than 60 psi (4 bar) when 100 ft (30 m) or less of material hose is used, and the pressure should be increased 5 psi (0.34 bar) for each additional 50 ft (15 m) of hose and 5 psi (0.34 bar) for each additional 25 ft (7.5 m) the nozzle is above the gun.”

The minimum 60 psi (4 bar) necessary for dry-mix could be applied to the wet-mix air supply as the velocity created by the air flow is similar.

I would like to know the fire rating information on a shotcrete wall, 8 in. thick.2023-06-06T23:43:22+00:00

Shotcrete is simply a placement method for concrete. Thus, fire resistance of any shotcreted concrete section can be evaluated by consulting ACI CODE-216.1- 14(19) Code Requirements for Determining Fire Resistance of Concrete and Masonry Construction Assemblies. There are many factors that affect the fire resistance so you will need to review the code to establish what’s appropriate for your structure.

Is there a guide to determining pressure applied to a form during shotcrete placement? I have seen references to 50 lb/ft2 (240 kg/m2) but no backup to this. Is the ACI formwork design guide applicable to shotcrete in some way?2023-06-06T23:42:54+00:00

Since shotcrete is pneumatically placed against a one-sided form there is no liquid concrete pressure against the form. When bench shooting vertical walls the majority of pressure from the high velocity impact is carried by the previously placed concrete as the concrete is stacked. Plus, this pressure is very localized, only affecting a small zone immediately adjacent to the impact area of the material stream. Here is an article on a research project that quantified the force

From the paper conclusion “In normal spraying conditions, wet- and dry-mix shotcretes produced a force on the panel of about 45 and 20 lb (200 and 90 N), respectively. The maximum load recorded is 87 lb (389 N) and it was observed in simulating a water plug.”

If your shotcrete form is exposed to wind forces before placing shotcrete, you may want to consider the wind pressure that may be expected across the entire form during construction to keep the form intact. This should be much less than the 50 lb/ft2 pressure you mention. ACI formwork design is intended for cast concrete where liquid concrete is contained within a two-sided form and is NOT applicable to shotcrete placement. Some sources show a 60 mi/hr (100 km/ hr) wind exerting about 10 lb/ft2 (50 kg/m2) on a vertical wall.

What is the efficiency of dry-mix shotcrete? How much is over spray vs. how much sticks to the surface?2023-06-06T23:42:21+00:00

Dry-mix shotcrete may have more rebound (coarse aggregate that bounces off the surface) than wet-mix so it may be considered a little less efficient. However, predampening and the use of special nozzles can increase wetting and reduce rebound which makes the dry-mix efficiency approach wet-mix. Rebound may be estimated as 5 to 15%, with an average of 10% of the weight of the concrete materials. The experience and placing technique of the nozzleman can substantially affect the amount of rebound in either dry-mix or wet-mix. Overspray is much less and may depend on wind conditions and placing techniques. When looking at the overall efficiency of shotcrete placement in a given section, dry-mix materials can be tailored much closer to the actual need while wet-mix may have minimum concrete delivery volume and time constraints that would end up not using all the material delivered. Also, dry-mix has approximately ¼ the production rate of wet-mix, so in high-volume placements, wet-mix may have a natural advantage in productivity.


Is it true that shotcrete compression tests are more accurate and are likely to be higher (better) results? Basically, is there a difference when testing wet-mix shotcrete applied pneumatically as compared to simply being taken directly in cylinders from the batch plant or ready-mix delivery?2023-06-06T23:40:42+00:00

Shotcrete placement provides full consolidation of the concrete by high-velocity impact. Concrete placed into cylinders for testing is consolidated by multiple rodding in three layers. Shotcreting also has some percentage of rebound so the concrete mixture that remains in the panel is more paste-rich than the mixture entering the pump. Thus, shotcrete placement may provide better consolidation, and a more paste-rich in-place mixture resulting in higher compressive strengths. However, shotcrete compressive strength is evaluated by cores extracted from panels. The coring process can create microcracking in the exterior surface of the core and produce slightly lower compressive strength than cylinders that have no damage to the outer surface when removed from the cylinder form and tested. Overall, there doesn’t seem to be a significant difference when evaluating the concrete material’s strength by shotcrete placement or concrete cylinders taken before pumping.

You could establish a correlation on a specific project by taking cylinders before pumping and then shooting material test panels. Then testing the cylinders and cores from the panel at the same age.

I was wondering if ASA has any safety meeting/ tailgate presentations on high-pressure shotcrete work. I need to ensure my team knows how to properly disconnect hoses and align proper fitting procedures. Furthermore, do you have any guidance on a repair procedure for the rubber hose?2023-06-06T23:41:42+00:00

We have an ASA document, “Safety Guidelines for Shotcrete,” that addresses shotcrete safety. It is not a job specific safety plan but gives you guidance on the information you may include in your plans. You can find it on our bookstore at A free copy of the Safety Guidelines is provided to all of our corporate and sustaining members. Membership also provides many other benefits, including discounts on shotcrete nozzleman certification and participation in our committees. We have a committee specifically devoted to Education and Safety for shotcrete that is very active.

Regarding the repair of the rubber hose, there is no procedure to repair any breaches in the hose itself. A damaged or excessively worn hose should never be used as the pressure that builds when a delivery line plugs during pumping is extremely dangerous. Modern pumps can reach 2000 psi (14 MPa) internal concrete pressure when experiencing a plug and the hose must be capable of carrying that high pressure. The wet-mix shotcrete hose is heavily reinforced, and the couplings are designed for high pressure. Your crew must be sure that all clamps are fully engaged on the heavy-duty couplings, and that safety pins are in place.

We have an existing historic 4 in. (100 mm) hollow clay tile wall that is finished with a 3-coat gypsum plaster. We would like to spray shotcrete on the non-finished side of the wall to strengthen it. Will the application of shotcrete on the back side of the wall possibly damage the historic plaster and paint? Will there be too much of a vapor drive from the application for the plaster to hold? Have you experienced plaster deterioration or loose keys from the application of shotcrete on the backside of a wall?2023-06-06T23:39:44+00:00

As long as the hollow clay tile wall is rigid and stable, the shotcrete application should not impact the finished side plaster. Shotcrete impacts in a very localized area directly where the material stream is hitting the substrate. Research shows that the localized force is about 90 to 100 lbs (40 to 45 kg) when shooting directly on the substrate. If shooting a thicker wall using a benching method, most of the force is carried by the previously shot material, so it would have less impact. If the clay tile needs to be stiffened, an initial thin layer could be shot to provide additional thickness before the final thickness is placed. Though we don’t have any specific information about vapor transmittal, concrete used in shotcrete placement inherently has a low w/cm and less water in the mixture to bleed or create vapor. We haven’t had any reports of plaster or grout falling off the inside of masonry walls that have been structurally enhanced with shotcrete.

We have a client that has requested a shotcrete application for a dirt crawlspace. The facility is located in the Northeast part of New York. I’m not the designer, but I believe we are looking at a wet-mix, applied at a 4 in. (100 mm) depth throughout the crawlspace. I had a few questions I was hoping could get answered as we move through the technical specifications process. 1) Is there an off-season for the shotcrete product? Does it have to be applied in warm weather? Again, this is upstate NY. 2) What kind of equipment is used to dispense/place the product? (same as concrete?) 3) What is the noise level of the dispensing equipment? Typical of any concrete pour or much louder? The facility is a childcare center, so they are concerned about noise levels.2023-06-06T23:38:53+00:00

Here are the answers in the same order as your list.

  1. Shotcrete is just a placement method for concrete, so there is no “off-season.” However, as with cast concrete, cold weather placement needs more planning and material delivery controls. As wet-mix shotcrete material is predominately delivered by ready-mix trucks, the concrete should be delivered at 50°F (10°C) or higher. Then once shot, if temperatures are less than 50°F, the concrete should be protected by insulated blankets or the area enclosed by vented heaters to keep temperatures above 50°F. We also don’t want to shoot onto frozen surfaces.
  2. We use small line concrete pumps standard in the concrete industry.
  3. Concrete pumps and air compressors are generally diesel-powered engines. Pump engines range in horsepower from 75 to over 200 hp, depending on the pump size. Your application is of relatively low volume, so one of the smaller pumps should do fine. We also use relatively small air compressors, and many contractors who work in residential or metropolitan areas use equipment equipped with sound reduction. The sound at the point of placement where the air-accelerated material stream exits the nozzle is generally just the sound of the airflow.
I would like to ask if there are any articles, references, etc, which reference procedures to determine the maturity of the concrete applied via shotcrete? Basically, how to generate the validation curves?2023-06-06T23:28:35+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Thus, generating the maturity curves would be based on the concrete mixtures. There are several online resources about the maturity method. One that discusses production of the curves is from the Minnesota DOT and available in PDF format at

I am working on a project that has existing tunnels made with shotcrete. I am needing to hang 12 in. (300 mm) duct and trying to figure out the best type or suggested anchors to use.2021-07-26T17:54:27+00:00

Shotcrete is just a placement method for concrete. Shotcrete placement with proper materials and application techniques should provide monolithic concrete with a 28-day compressive strength of at least 4000 lb/in2 (28 MPa). Thus, any systems that work in concrete should be fine. Either mechanically-fixed or epoxy-set anchors are commonly used in concrete. You should consult with the anchor suppliers for the size and type of anchor appropriate for your specific application.

We have shotcrete test panels, 12 by 12 by 6 in. (300 by 300 by 150 mm). My question is it OK to move the panels right after shooting to different location for initial curing or should the panels be left untouched for certain period of time at the spot of shooting?2021-07-26T17:53:30+00:00

In normal weather conditions test panels should be undisturbed for at least 24 hours. In cold weather you must protect the panels from freezing and preferably keep the concrete surface temperature above 50 to 55 °F. That allowsthe young concrete to gain enough strength to tolerate movement. Also, your test panels are very small in comparison to current ACI 506.2 Specification for Shotcrete requirements that have a minimum of 16 by 16 by 51⁄2 in. (400 by 400 by 140 mm) dimensions. When coring your smaller panels you should be sure to have the nearest edge of the core 3 in. (75 mm) from the sides to preclude the effect that rebound collection in the corners may cause.

I am in the process of hiring a contractor to install a pool at my home. I have a long driveway, about 350 ft (100 m) and the pool will be constructed behind my house. The contractor wants to remove a substantial amount of plantings to allow the shotcrete truck to get closer to the pool area. How far can you reasonably pump shotcrete horizontally and what type/brand pump would be needed?2021-07-26T17:51:51+00:00

Shotcrete placement conveys concrete materials through a delivery line that ranges from 11⁄2 in. (38 mm) to 21⁄2 in. (64 mm) in diameter. A 2 in. (50 mm) diameter at the nozzle is most common. Wet-mix shotcrete pumps wet concrete through the line. Dry-mix conveys dry concrete materials through the line and adds water at the nozzle to make concrete. Using proper concrete materials, equipment and placing techniques both wet-mix and dry-mix should provide high strength, durable concrete for your pool. Wet-mix is more difficult to pump as it has more internal friction pushing the low-slump concrete through the line. Shotcrete contractors will try to minimize the delivery line length in wet-mix to make pumping easier and reduce the chance for plugs in the line. With proper planning, concrete mixture selection, and delivery line choices, wet-mix shotcrete can be pumped 500 ft (150 m) or more. The shotcrete contractor can increase the pumping distance by using steel pipe for most of the delivery line with rubber hose the last 50 to 75 ft (15 to 23 m), or using larger diameter hose or pipe and then reducing to the final size closer to the nozzle. If the shotcrete contractor is using dry-mix (often called Gunite) they should easily be able to reach over 500 ft as the delivery hose is mostly full of air conveying the dry concrete materials. This means you don’t have nearly the internal friction that would tend to cause plugging of the line, and thus allows for longer delivery lines.
Thus, if using wet-mix, check with the shotcrete contractor and see if they can make adjustments to their delivery lines to allow a greater pumping distance to accommodate your lot. If using dry-mix, they should have no problems running the hose to your back yard assuming they have enough hose.

We have a cast-in-place wall with extensive rock pockets and voids from inadequate vibration during casting. One option is to tear down the wall and replace, however we are wondering if shotcrete can be used to repair the deficiencies. If so, what are the recommended procedures to prepare and shotcrete the repairs?2021-05-26T18:14:16+00:00

Shotcrete is a great solution to your wall casting issue. In all shotcrete repair to get the best bond you need to:
1. Chip back to sound substrate – all the rock pockets and voids should be chipped out (or you can use hydrodemolition) to sound concrete.
2. If the chipped-out area is deep into the wall, make sure to have the opening at about a 45° angle from the back of the chipped out area to the surface so that the air flow providing shotcrete’s high velocity can escape and not be trapped.
3. Do not feather edge the perimeter of the repaired opening. Provide a ¾ to 1 in. (19 to 25 mm) roughly square shoulder at the perimeter edge. If this is sawcut make sure the sawed surface is roughened before shotcreting.
4. Thoroughly clean the chipped-out area to remove all dust.
5. Bring the entire chipped out area to a saturated surface dry condition.
6. Do NOT use a bonding agent. It will detract from the inherent excellent bond of shotcrete.
7. Use an experienced shotcrete nozzleman (ACI-certified in the vertical orientation for the process being used) with a quality concrete mixture, and proper shotcrete equipment.
8. Make sure the shotcrete finishers are experienced and do not tear or delaminate the shot sections.
9. Protect the freshly shot and finished sections from freezing or extremely hot weather.
10. Cure the shot sections for a minimum of 7 days. A water cure is preferred to a curing membrane. Either wet-mix or dry-mix would be suitable for your project.

The shotcrete contractor you select for the project should recommend the process they are best suited for based on their crew experience and equipment. Appropriate testing for this type of repair may include compression testing of the materials from shotcreted panels (ASTM C1140 Standard Practice for Preparing and Testing Specimens from Shotcrete Test Panels, ASTM C1604 Standard Test Method for Obtaining and Testing Drilled Cores of Shotcrete, and ACI 506.2 Specification for Shotcrete), and bond pull-off tests to verify the bond of the shotcreted material to the original substrate. For more guidance on shotcrete and its use in concrete repairs, you may want to review ACI 506R-16 Guide to Shotcrete, as it can give you more detailed information about shotcrete materials, surface preparation, shotcrete crews and placement, testing, protection and curing.

Can carbon nanotubes be used in shotcrete?2021-05-26T18:11:39+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete so most admixture or supplemental cementitious materials that can be used in cast concrete will work with shotcrete placement. In fact, shotcrete contractors have been some of the most innovative adopters of new concrete technologies. Silica fume (microsilica) is a ultrafine particle 100 times smaller than cement that enjoys early and wide use in shotcrete due to its ability to make concrete stickier and more cohesive. This facilitates overhead placements and can provide thicker layers. Shotcrete has also used other ultrafine and nanoparticles, like colloidal silica, clay-based particles and the carbon nanotubes you mentioned.

The ultrafine and nanoparticles can provide many benefits to fresh concrete, as well as hardened properties. This may include:
• Improve the pumpability of wet-mix concrete;
• Reduce rebound and dust due to increased “stickiness”;
• Ease the finishing process;
• Reduced permeability by filling pores between cement in the paste;
• Enhanced corrosion resistance for embedded reinforcement;
• Enhanced resistance to chemical attack.

Can a gunite bridge surface be painted? And if so, what preparation/materials are recommended.2021-05-26T18:10:39+00:00

Yes, shotcrete is a placement method for concrete, so any coating appropriate for concrete would be applicable specify new concrete should be a certain age before applying their coating. Generally, the concrete surface should be clean and dry before coating. The surface texture provided on the shotcrete can affect the coating application. A hard, smooth steel trowel finish will tend to be quite slick, and the coating may not bond as well as a floated or sponge finish. A light abrasive blast may be considered to roughen the surface and give more bond. If using a gun or rodded finish for the shotcrete, the coating will generally require quite a bit more material to be able to fill the depressions in the surface.

Please discuss the differences in curing/shrinking cracking challenges for wet-mix shotcrete versus dry-mix shotcrete (gunite). In my limited experience, wet-mix shotcrete tends to crack easier than dry-mix shotcrete. In general terms, or on average is gunite more porous, but less likely to show cracks?2021-01-04T21:20:05+00:00

Both wet-mix and dry-mix shotcrete when using proper materials, equipment and placement techniques will produce high strength, low permeability concrete in-place. Dry-mix shotcrete will tend to have a lower w/cm since water is added to the dry concrete materials at the nozzle. Wet-mix needs a higher w/cm and a fairly high cement paste content to facilitate pumpability. This can make wet-mix more susceptible to plastic or drying shrinkage cracking than dry-mix. However, cracking in either dry-mix or wet-mix shotcrete can be controlled by using fogging of freshly finished surfaces and then early curing of exposed shotcrete surfaces.

Wet-mix still has very low w/cm (0.40 to 0.45) to allow vertical and overhead placement without sloughing or falling out and is lower than much of the form-and-poured concrete. The low w/cm and high velocity impact produces excellent compressive strength and low permeability. Properly placed dry-mix will have similar compressive strength and permeability as wet-mix. strength gain.

I would like to know how could I obtain an expert opinion from ASA stating that a particular person specializes in gunite (dry-mix shotcrete) operations and that the person is amply qualified to perform such work?2021-01-04T21:18:26+00:00

ASA is the international trade association dedicated to advancement of shotcrete placement. The American Concrete Institute (ACI) has a long history of certification of individual craftsmen in concrete construction. Nearly 20 years ago ASA worked closely with ACI to establish the ACI Shotcrete Nozzleman certification program to evaluate a nozzleman’s ability to place quality shotcrete. ASA is the primary group that conducts the ACI Nozzleman Certification sessions around the world. We provide a full day of education before the formal ACI certification and have a team of examiners with proven shotcrete expertise to rigorously conduct the sessions to ACI’s high standards. Many engineers specify that all the nozzlemen on their projects must have ACI Nozzleman Certification. Many concrete-related codes, specifications and standards require ACI-certified shotcrete nozzleman for shotcrete placement of structural concrete.

Thus, ASA doesn’t offer an expert opinion on individuals as an association but provide the ASA education and ACI certification upon request. You will find full details of the session services we can provide on our website at education then clicking on the “Shotcrete Nozzleman Certification Program” link. An article that covers in greater detail the overall shotcrete nozzleman education and certification process ACI Nozzleman Certification—Why, Who, When, and How can be found on our website: wp-content/uploads/2020/05/2018Win_Hanskat.pdf

Also, many of our corporate members offer consulting services. You can find them in our free, online Buyer’s Guide at On the web page you can select the category, subcategory and geographic location to narrow your search.


We are working on a design-build project located in southern California of which the perimeter walls of the underground parking structure are planned to be shotcrete. Do you recommend any particular ACI publication that would be applicable to the shotcrete operation or does ASA have their own publications, similar to ACI, that are more appropriate to shotcreting?2021-01-04T21:17:22+00:00

ACI Committee 506 is the technical committee responsible for creating and maintaining the ACI documents related to shotcrete. ACI 506R-16 Guide to Shotcrete is an excellent resource for shotcrete information including materials, equipment, crew composition and placing techniques. It is a non-mandatory document that is very descriptive and readable. ACI 506.2-13 (18) Specification for Shotcrete is another excellent resource that has mandatory requirements for the contractor’s shotcrete placements. Additionally, the ACI 318-19 Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete directly addresses shotcrete for use in buildings.

A past article in Shotcrete magazine describes the additions to cover shotcrete in ACI 319-19: uploads/2020/06/2019Fal_HanskatHollandSuprenant.pdf

Another past article dealing with Shotcrete Testing—Who, Why, When, and How can be found on our website here:



Do you have any case studies or applications where Ground Granulated Blast Furnace Slag (GGBFS) cement was successfully used in the concrete mix?2021-01-04T21:16:22+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Concrete mixtures that have been shotcreted have used all different supplemental cementitious materials (SCM) including slag. Silica fume, and fly ash are also widely used. Generally geographic availability and cost of the slag are a deciding factor on if slag is included in a concrete mixture design. Concrete using alternative binders or cements have been used for specialized applications like refractory, or extremely high early strength gain. Here are links to past articles from our Shotcrete magazine that have considered slag in shotcreted concrete mixtures:

The Use of Slag Cement, Alkali-Free Accelerator, and Macro-Synthetic Fibers uploads/2020/05/2016Spr_Yurdakul-etal.pdf

Sustainable Shotcrete Using Blast-Furnace Slag content/uploads/2020/05/2013Fal_Sustainability.pdf

Our shotcrete contractor started shooting our residential swimming pool on a Friday and stopped 1/3 of way through the process. They plan to restart and complete shooting the pool the following Monday. This site is in Houston and has been averaging 90+ °F (32 °C) average daily temperatures. Aside from soaking the existing pool structure during the hiatus and additional continuous watering through the 10 days after completion to let concrete cure, what steps do I and the contractor need to make to ensure a cold joint will not fail and leak in the future? I will be able to supervise the second shot. What can I do, or make sure the contractor does, to ensure the structural integrity and quality of my investment?2021-01-04T21:15:29+00:00

Wet curing of newly placed concrete is certainly important. Your 10-day cure sounds great. Properly placed shotcrete against a properly prepared construction joint will provide concrete that acts monolithically and will not be a “cold joint” as is common in cast concrete. There are three key factors for joint preparation:

  1. The joint must be roughened. This should be done when the crew finished for the day using a stiff broom or raking with a trowel.
  2. On the subsequent shoot the surface should be cleaned (usually using a high pressure, pressure washer).
  3. Before shooting bring the surface to a saturated surface dry (SSD) condition. SSD means the pores of the concrete have been filled with water but there is no running water on the surface.

Following these 3 steps are essential for creating a monolithic, watertight joint. Here’s a link to an article on why shotcrete doesn’t have cold joints:

Quality shotcrete placement requires a well-designed concrete mixture, proper equipment, attention to the surface prep, proper placement techniques, and curing. One aspect that can help you ascertain the nozzleman’s expertise is to require they have a current American Concrete Institute Shotcrete Nozzleman Certification. You can verify an individual’s certification status at:



I am looking for information on where, when and why welded wire mesh (WWF) would be recommended in lieu of structural steel reinforcement, or with steel reinforcement, or guidance on how to determine which option or combination is the preferred one.2023-06-06T23:33:18+00:00

WWF should only be used when the area of reinforcing provides the required reinforcement area. It may serve as supplemental reinforcement to bars, or entirely replace reinforcing bars as long as the required area of reinforcing steel is provided in the concrete section. Where multiple sheets (more than 2 at say a corner) overlap you may need to cutout one or more of the layers to allow good encasement. Don’t use steel fibers with WWF as they tend to bunch up where the wires cross.

WWF can be used to provide reinforcing in double curved sections where it would be hard to bend and place reinforcing bars. Also, it may be used where you have a thick concrete cover or unreinforced thickness of a repair area that you wanted to get some reinforcing in place to control depth of any surface or shrinkage cracking.

If the mesh is just being provided to help support shotcrete being shot overhead you may not worry about the area of steel, just adding it in addition to the original design reinforcing. Then a lighter mesh might be used since you aren’t really worried about its ability to be reinforcing.



I work for a Commercial pool builder. We are doing a Jr. Olympic pool (competition pool) 40 ft by 70 ft (12 m by 21 m) with a 20 ft by 10 ft (6 m by 3 m) swim out area with steps. I would rather have the entire pool shot with shotcrete. The office wants the floor poured first then shoot the walls the next day. Can you talk about any advantages or disadvantages to either? Normally we are in a remote location with no power or water. We’ve had issues with shotcrete cracking on the floors and I understand that can happen because of many factors but poured concrete can as well.2021-01-04T21:13:11+00:00

Casting the floor first is recommended. Note that rebound and trimmings from vertical wall placement are not fully consolidated concrete and must not be used as part of a structural concrete section. Thus, casting first allows:

  • No collection of rebound and trimmings from wall construction to get trapped below floor reinforcing steel.
  • Provides a stable surface to collect and remove rebound and trimmings.
  • Is generally faster placement and allows full consolidation of concrete throughout the floor thickness by immersion vibrators.
  • If using wet-mix shotcrete the shotcrete pump can serve as a line pump for pumping concrete into the floor thus requiring no extra equipment.
  • Allows proper joint preparation at the floor/wall joint to provide a watertight joint.



Our pool company just completed the shotcrete today and temperatures are expected to reach near freezing tonight. Should the shotcrete still cure properly? Should we be concerned?2021-01-04T21:12:11+00:00

You say near freezing, so we assume it did not reach freezing. Though the newly place concrete will not gain strength quickly it should not be damaged. As temperatures rise during the day the warmer temperatures should allow more strength gain. Concrete has a chemical reaction to build strength, that generates internal heat. If freezing weather was expected, we would recommend use of a protective blanket on the concrete surface to help hold the heat in and promote quicker strength gain. Generally, in concrete we like to see the concrete surface temperature at 50 °F (10 °C) or higher in cold weather to encourage strength gain.



I am working on a fire re-build project near Napa, CA. The existing building has 12 in. (300 mm) thick shotcrete basement walls. There are many areas where the concrete cover spalled off from the rebar. The rebar appears to be ingood condition with no visible buckling. Is it possible to repair these walls with a 1 1/2 to 2 in. (38 to 50 mm) layer of shotcrete to restore the concrete cover? If so, what sort of surface prep is required? Is a concrete bonding agent required?2023-06-06T23:35:43+00:00

Yes, this is definitely a good application for shotcrete. To restore the cover:

  • Chip or hydrodemo back to sound concrete. If a reinforcing bar is more than half exposed, chip at least 1 in. (25 mm) back behind the bar.
  • Make sure the surface is roughened and clean.
  • Bring the concrete surface to saturated surface dry (SSD) condition. This means the surface feels damp but water is not picked up on a hand.
  • Make sure the shotcrete placement is properly executed. Use of an ACI-certified shotcrete nozzleman is recommended.
  • No bonding agent should be used. It will interfere with the natural bonding characteristics of shotcrete placement.
  • If chipping out a section do not feather edge. Provide a ¾ to 1 in. (19 to 25 mm)) depth of cut at the edge to provide adequate thickness for the integrity of the shotcreted material at the edge.


This article on the excellent bond between shotcrete provides more detail:


I’m interested in any information you can provide about recommended expansion/contraction joint spacing for lazy river concrete flumes.2020-08-12T17:28:32+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. As the lazy river is a long concrete trough that is intended to be functionally watertight, the best guidance is ACI, 350-06 Code Requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures. As the predominate stresses in the horizontal direction result from shrinkage and temperature, Section provides guidance on joint spacing based on the provided reinforcement ratio in the concrete section. The closer the movement joints, the less reinforcement required. Chapter 5 of ACI 350.4R-04, Design Considerations for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures, has guidance on design of joints for water containing structures to help maintain water tightness.

We are working on a large infrastructure project in New York state. We have access and approval issues for a new concrete mixture design. Our understanding is we can specify a Pre-Bagged or Pre-Packaged Shotcrete mix for a wet-mix application. Is this the correct terminology? Are there companies that produce this type of product?2020-08-12T15:25:43+00:00

We see both Pre-Bagged and Pre-Packaged terminology used. ASTM C1480 / C1480M – 07(2012) uses the rather unwieldy Standard Specification for Packaged, Pre-Blended, Dry, Combined Materials for Use in Wet or Dry Shotcrete Application.”  Most suppliers of packaged dry concrete materials for shotcrete have formulations designed for wet-mix applications. You can find our corporate members who supply pack-aged materials on our website in the Buyers Guide (, select the Category, Shotcrete Materials-Mixture Sales” and the Subcategory, Wet Mix. 

We are working on a repair/renovation project in Boston. A long-concealed wall next to an adjacent property is now visible as the adjacent property is being renovated. We have been told that our wall must have a 2-hour fire rating. Our wall is composed of CMU masonry and exposed structural steel members. Applying shotcrete to the CMU and steel is a good solution for several reasons. Would you provide shotcrete specifications that will have a 2-hour fire rating on CMU and structural steel?2020-08-12T15:24:43+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Thus, the fire resistance for shotcrete placement is the same as concrete. The primary reference for fire resistance of concrete is ACI 216.1-14(19) Code Requirements for Determining Fire Resistance of Concrete and Masonry Construction Assemblies. 

would like to ask if there are any articles, references, etc, which reference procedures to determine the maturity of the concrete applied via shotcrete? Basically, how to generate the validation curves?2020-08-12T15:24:00+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Thus, generating the maturity curves would be based on the concrete mixtures. There are several online resources about the maturity method. One that discusses production of the curves is from the Minnesota DOT and available in PDF format at 

I have a 24 in (600 mm) thick shotcrete wall that will have to be scanned for voids. The project has been struggling to locate a local expert who has the capability to scan this thick of a wall. In addition, this new 24 in thick shotcrete wall was dowelled and made “as one unit” together with an existing 24 inches thick cast in place wall. What technique should I use to get the right proportion?2020-08-12T15:23:14+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Thus, all non-destructive testing (NDT) applicable to concrete walls would be usable on your wall. However, it is difficult to get good results with a scanning system for heavily reinforced concrete walls of your thickness. Impact Echo and Impulse Response are two one-sided techniques that can provide good results for a portion of the 24 in thickness though would likely not be able to scan the entire depth. Ultrasonic Pulse Velocity is a potential if you can access both sides of the wall. For one-sided investigation at greater depth you may be able to use a MIRA system. It is sophisticated tomographic system that says it can test from 50mm to 800mm (32 in) thickness. There are national consulting firms that provide these investigation systems. Each requires a highly trained, experienced operator so be sure to verify the firm can document successful experience with the method.

Can shotcrete be considered as structural concrete with wire mesh and rockbolts in tunnel linings?2020-04-09T18:52:53+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. It is routinely used for a wide variety of structural applications. It has been used for both initial and final linings in tunnels where it is commonly reinforced with wire mesh, fibers, or reinforcing steel. You may want to review our past Shotcrete magazine articles on tunnel shotcrete at
using keywords such as “tunnel,” “underground,” and “linings.” Also, we have two position papers from our underground committee: “Spraying Shotcrete Overhead in Underground Applications,” and “Spraying Shotcrete on Synthetic Sheet Waterproofing Membranes,” that you may find informative. Also, ACI 506.5R-09, “Guide for Specifying Underground Shotcrete,” can provide insight into topics important for using and specifying underground shotcrete.

Do you have any reference documentation for the application of using concrete stamps/textures or hand carving on vertical shotcrete applications for architectural finishes?2020-04-09T18:52:07+00:00

Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any specific references to guide you in stamping or carving of fresh shotcrete for vertical surfaces. In many ways carving and stamping is a technique that requires more of an artistic flare that a finisher develops by hands-on experience. One key aspect is to minimize the working of the surface as much as possible to prevent tearing or delaminating the shotcrete surface layers. Carving or stamping when the concrete has reached an appropriate level of set (not too hard or soft) must also be judged by the experienced shotcrete finisher.

I live in a 10-story condo building built in the 1960s. The entire building is made of gunite. We use masonry drill bits for holes, but nothing seems to grip well. We have tried concrete screws, metal drywall anchors (which seem to work the best), and a plethora of other anchors and screws, but nothing seems to work. They all cause mushrooming and they either don’t grip or turn the wall to powder. What are the best tools to affix things to the walls?2020-04-09T18:51:32+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Dry-mix shotcrete (the old tradename is gunite) using proper materials, equipment, and application techniques should have easily been able to reach a strength of 4000 psi (28 MPa) in the first month. After 10 years in-place the concrete should be even stronger. The level of concrete strength developed by quality shotcrete should easily accommodate drilling in anchors or concrete screws. In my experience it would have been highly unusual to build an entire 10-story building with shotcrete even in the 1960s. I’d suggest based on the extremely weak material properties and the wall turning to dust what you think is shotcrete may be sprayed plaster or stucco. Those materials don’t have near the same strength as shotcrete and would exhibit many of the problems you have mentioned.

I am not sure if this is the right place to go… 15 months ago I contracted with a company to remove my pavers, pour a concrete pad, and install spraycrete. It was beautiful! The contractor even has photos on his website. Now, I have hairline cracks all over the place and there are more weekly. My contractor is definitely giving me the runaround regarding this. I explained that I would not have paid more than $16,000 if my pool deck would be cracked a year later. Hurricane Irma took out my pool cage and the insurance money was not enough to replace it, so I used the money for my pool deck. Can someone please tell me what to do? Should these hairline cracks be everywhere? What is the lifespan of the material? Help!2020-01-30T19:50:24+00:00

Spray-crete is NOT shotcrete. Shotcrete is high-velocity placement of concrete in thicker structural sections. It appears Spray-crete is a low-velocity sprayed mortar product generally applied in a very thin layer to provide texture to an existing concrete substrate. Since you mentioned the underlaying concrete pad was cast and then the Spray-crete added the cracking could well be originating in the underlaying concrete. Concrete cracks for a variety of reasons, such as drying shrinkage, thermal volume change (summer/winter cycles), inadequate curing, insufficient reinforcing steel, or settlement of the subgrade. You should locate a local professional engineer experienced in concrete slab evaluation who can evaluate your site, materials used, application techniques, and potential causes of the cracking. You may find the Florida Engineering Society and ACEC-FL has a list of firms who offer evaluation services.

I’m hoping you’d be willing to answer a couple of questions I have about gunite. I am having a swimming pool installed at my house in Florida. I was away when the gunite was shot a few weeks ago and didn’t know at the time that the gunite should be sprayed with water for a few times a day for about a week according to what I have read online. The pool company owner knew I would be away and never mentioned the need for the gunite to be periodically moistened. The owner also made no provision for any of his employees to hose it down or install a sprinkler. When I learned after the fact of the watering requirement and asked him about it, he said it was unnecessary because the gunite was shot at 4000 psi (28 MPa) and not the “industry standard” of 3000 psi (21 MPa). Then he added that with the almost daily rain in Florida at this time of year, all was okay. I’m concerned about the gunite’s integrity—its permeability and the possibility of shrinkage and cracking. Could you tell me if I have a reason to be concerned, and if so, what do you suggest I should do about it?2020-01-30T19:50:07+00:00

Gunite is the original tradename for what we now call dry-mix shotcrete. Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete, so recommendations for curing and protection follow general ACI guidelines for exposed concrete. ASA recommends a minimum of 7 days of continuous (not just a few times a day) wet curing to help control shrinkage issues, increase strength, and reduce permeability in young concrete sections. Lack of curing and exposure to windy, hot, or dry conditions will certainly increase the potential for shrinkage and cracking of the concrete. Lack of curing will prevent the concrete from achieving its maximum potential strength.

Shotcrete placement with quality materials and proper application techniques generally exceeds the minimum 4000 psi 28-day compressive strength ASA recommends. The statement that 3000 psi is the “industry standard” is not true, as the ACI 350 Code for concrete liquid-containing requires a minimum 28-day compressive strength of 4000 psi for concrete intended to have low permeability when exposed to water. The required strength depends on the pool design. If you want to confirm the compressive strength of your in-place concrete, cores taken from the pool should be tested for compressive strength by a qualified testing lab. ASTM C1604/C1604M provides guidance on taking cores from existing structures. A minimum 3 in. (76 mm) diameter core is recommended. Before coring, it is recommended to use ground-penetrating radar (GPR) or similar equipment to identify the location of reinforcement in the pool section, and then take cores to avoid cutting through the reinforcement wherever possible. The core holes would then need to be filled with a high-strength, non-shrink cementitious grout. Once you learn the actual strength, you would need to check with the pool design engineer to verify the strength is adequate for the design. If the strengths are not adequate, you should consult with the pool designer or a licensed professional engineer experienced in pool design for potential solutions.

Regarding cracking, the lack of curing will increase the concrete’s shrinkage and correspondingly the potential for cracking. You should verify that there are no significant cracks in the pool shell before the plaster or other interior coating is applied. If there are cracks, the pool contractor should repair those before proceeding with the plaster or coating. Although proper curing would certainly decrease the concrete’s permeability, generally good-quality shotcrete with proper placement and a strength of 4000 psi will be functionally watertight and not allow any significant amount of water to flow through the uncracked concrete thickness. You will find more detailed information on pool compressive strengths and watertightness of pool shells in our ASA Position Statements.

I have a project where we are designing a shotcrete wall. The contractor plans to mix the shotcrete on site and we need to work with them to come up with a mixture design. Do you have any suggested wet-mix shotcrete designs for on-site mixing applications or could you point me where some may be published?2020-01-30T19:49:50+00:00

Shotcrete is simply a placement method for concrete. Most wet-mix shotcrete contractors use a 2 in. (50 mm) diameter delivery hose, so maximum coarse aggregate size should be limited to 3/8 in. (10 mm) nominal. Pumpability usually requires a good paste content. Here’s a link to an article, “Understanding Wet-Mix Shotcrete: Mix Design, Specifications, and Placement,” that should answer many of your questions. It is rare to have wet-mix concrete mixed on site from bulk aggregate and cementitious materials. Most site-batched wet-mix uses dry prepackaged materials that have metered water addition to provide a specific water-cementitious materials ratio (w/cm) for the provided bagged mixture. We also see volumetric mixers used on site that can precisely meter the dry concrete materials and water often with needed water-reducing air-entraining admixtures.

We are applying shotcrete in a slope (8 in. [200 m]) to make it stable. The shotcrete wall has a length of 330 ft (100 m). Do we need to specify construction and an isolation joint? In case it is required as well as an isolation joint, does the separation between joints need to be 30 ft (9 m)? Where can I find information about joints for shotcrete?2020-01-30T19:49:30+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Thus, you should place movement joints (contraction, expansion, isolation) as would be required by your local design codes for concrete. Joint spacing will depend on the amount of reinforcement used in the section to resist temperature and shrinkage volume changes. Construction joint spacing can be determined by the contractor depending on their production rates. Properly prepared construction joints will act as monolithic concrete as long as the joints are properly prepared and proper concrete materials, equipment, and placement techniques are used by the shotcrete contractor. Construction joints should be roughened, cleaned, and then dampened to saturated surface-dry conditions before subsequent shotcrete placement.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has a nice summary document that you may find helpful in your design.

I place shotcrete and I use the wet-mix method. I have been asked by a contractor to repair a pool that was shot with the dry-mix method. He is having trouble convincing his client that with the proper preparation we can shoot the repair with the wet method. Am I missing anything?2020-01-30T19:49:02+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Both wet-mix and dry-mix produce quality in-place concrete when using quality materials and proper equipment and placement techniques. There are no compatibility problems with shooting wet-mix over dry-mix. Basically, it is just shooting shotcrete on top of already placed concrete. For proper bond, the surface of the existing dry-mix must be roughened, cleaned, and brought to a saturated surface-dry moisture condition before shooting the wet-mix lining.

When applying 6 in. (152 mm) of shotcrete on an exterior concrete surface, how long should that cure before coating with an acrylic elastomeric roof coating? What is the moisture content of that thickness after 7 days, or after 14 days?2020-01-30T19:48:42+00:00

Shotcrete is just a placement method for concrete. Thus, the in-place material will have the same characteristics as concrete. You should consult the coating supplier to establish how long they want the concrete surface cured. They may also specify a certain limit for surface moisture conditions. There are several methods for evaluating the moisture content of the in-place concrete. Here are the ASTM standards that deal with surface moisture:

  • ASTM F710, Preparing Concrete Floors to Receive Resilient Flooring; Section 5.2, pH Testing;
  • ASTM F1869, Measuring Moisture Vapor Emission Rate of Concrete Subfloor Using Anhydrous Calcium Chloride;
  • ASTM F2170, Determining Relative Humidity in Concrete Floor Slabs Using in situ Probes;
  • ASTM F2659, Preliminary Evaluation of Comparative Moisture Condition of Concrete, Gypsum Cement and Other Floor Slabs and Screeds Using a Non-Destructive Electronic Moisture Meter; and
  • ASTM F3191, Field Determination of Substrate Water Absorption (Porosity) for Substrates to Receive Resilient Flooring.

In addition, The International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) has a certification program, “ICRI Concrete Slab Moisture Testing Technician—Grade 1.”

How thick would you recommend a shotcrete application be to make bedrock reservoir waterproof?2020-01-30T19:48:25+00:00

There are many variables that would need to be considered to answer your question. Water flow, depth of the application, and overall geometry can influence the required thickness. This is a question that should be addressed by an experienced engineer who can ascertain the required structural properties to resist the hydraulic loads for the depth and geometry of your application. You may find consultants who are ASA Corporate Members in our Buyers Guide.

I am helping to design radiation shielding for a cyclotron and we do not have much space. The machine produces both neutrons that must be shielded for as well as gamma rays. I have been told that we could get a density of 3.2 g/cc, which helps for gamma rays, but I need to find out more about the water content of the finished product for the neutron shielding part so I can scale between regular 2.4 g/cc concrete and the high-density shotcrete product. Do you have knowledge of this?2020-01-30T19:39:40+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. We have shot a wide variety of concrete mixtures from lightweight to heavyweight to the use of alternative cements. Reviewing ACI 304.3R-96, “Heavyweight Concrete: Measuring, Mixing, Transporting, and Placing,” the key to producing heavyweight concrete is the aggregates used. The document also mentions that more cement paste is needed in heavyweight concrete and that helps to increase pumpability, which is important to use with shotcrete placement. Shotcrete will allow you to minimize or eliminate formwork, so it may have benefits of reducing cost and time for construction. Wet-mix shotcrete generally has a low water-cementitious materials ratio (w/cm) of 0.38 to 0.45. Dry-mix shotcrete tends to be even lower with a 0.35 to 0.40 w/cm. Shotcrete materials achieve this using high-range water-reducing admixtures. As concrete hydrates and gains strength, the available free water in the concrete is consumed, and so may be less of a problem for shielding. Reviewing the 304.3R document, it appears reaching the 3.2 g/cc density is fairly easy, and even higher densities may be achievable. You may want to review the ACI 304.3R document, as it provides a good background of heavyweight concrete mixture design and use.

I am working with a private club in Connecticut and we are are trying to determine what the life expectancy is of a concrete commercial pool shell. There is no evidence of failure or cracking and the pool surface is painted, not plaster. We think it is reinforced shotcrete. Are there any tests or rules we should take into consideration?2020-01-30T19:39:13+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Thus, evaluating your pool shell life expectancy will be the same as any concrete structure exposed to water. You may find the technical document ACI 201.1R-08, “Guide for Conducting a Visual Inspection of Concrete in Service,” helpful in evaluating your pool shell. Generally, shotcreted concrete that uses quality materials, proper equipment, and placement techniques will serve for at least 50 to 60 years. ACI 350-06, “Code Requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures,” states: “When all relevant loading conditions are considered, the design should provide adequate safety and serviceability, with a life expectancy of 50 to 60 years for the structural concrete.” This ACI 350 Code is for liquid-containing concrete structures such as tanks for water and wastewater treatment but the original pool design may or may not meet the Code requirements.

Is there any article or reference referring to the procedure of maturity of the concrete applied to the shotcrete? Basically, explaining how to generate the validation curves?2020-01-30T19:38:15+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Thus, generating the maturity curves are based on the concrete mixtures. There are several online resources about the maturity method. The Minnesota DOT provides a PDF resource that discusses production of the curves.

We are working on a repair/renovation project in Boston, MA. A long, concealed wall next to an adjacent property is now visible, as the adjacent property is being renovated. We have been told that our wall must now have a 2-hour fire rating. Our wall is comprised of concrete masonry units (CMUs) and exposed structural steel members. Applying shotcrete to the CMUs and steel is a good solution for several reasons. Can you provide or point me to a shotcrete specification that will have a 2-hour fire rating on CMUs and structural steel?2020-01-30T19:37:57+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Thus, the fire resistance for shotcrete placement is the same as concrete. The primary reference for fire resistance of concrete is ACI 216.1-14(19), “Code Requirements for Determining Fire Resistance of Concrete and Masonry Construction Assemblies.”

I have a 24 in. (610 mm) thick shotcrete wall that needs to be scanned for voids. The project has been struggling to locate a local expert who has the capability to scan this thick of a wall. In addition, this new 24 in. thick shotcrete wall was dowelled and made an “as-one-unit” together with an existing 24 in. form-and-pour wall. Any thoughts and ideas would be greatly appreciated.2020-01-30T19:37:42+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Thus, all nondestructive testing (NDT) applicable to concrete walls would be usable on your wall. However, it is difficult to get good results with a scanning system for heavily reinforced concrete walls of your thickness. Impact echo and impulse response are two one-sided techniques that can provide good results for a portion of the 24 in. thickness, although they would likely not be able to scan the entire depth. Ultrasonic pulse velocity is a potential if you can access both sides of the wall. For one-sided investigation at greater depth, you may be able to use a MIRA system. It is a sophisticated tomographic system that says it can test from 50 to 800 mm (32 in.) thickness. There are national consulting firms that provide these investigation systems. Each requires a highly trained, experienced operator—so be sure to verify the firm can document successful experience using the method.

A contractor has proposed using shotcrete to repair the concrete in the elbows of a draft tube. I have not heard of shotcrete being used in a draft tube. Velocities would range from 10.5 to 3.8 ft/s (3.2 to 1.2 m/s). I am concerned about whether the shotcrete would delaminate after time or be abraded away, as there is considerable abrasion present where the concrete cover has been abraded away on the floor of the elbow. Any guidance would be helpful.2020-01-30T19:31:22+00:00

Shotcrete has been used in many dam repairs, including large-diameter draft tubes. Shotcrete is high-velocity (60 to 80 mph [100 to 130 km/h]) placement of concrete. When shotcreting with proper concrete materials, equipment, placement, and curing techniques, along with complete surface preparation, you can expect a tensile bond strength of at least 150 psi (1 MPa) between the existing concrete and the newly shotcreted material. Original Portland Cement Association research by Felt from 1956 showed that 200 psi (1.4 MPa) bond shear strength is required for bonded overlays to act monolithically in flexure. Research by Silfwerbrand in 2003 showed that the ratio of bond shear strength to direct tensile bond strength ranges from 1.9 to 3.1. Thus, using the low value of the range with a 150 psi tensile bond strength yields a shear strength of at least 285 psi (2 MPa), well above the 200 psi needed. You may find more information on the bond between concrete and shotcrete layers in the article “Shotcrete Placed in Multiple Layers does NOT Create Cold Joints” that can be found in our article archive.

Regarding the abrasion, shotcrete displays good toughness in a wide variety of demanding applications. Quality shotcrete should have at least a 4000 psi 28-day compressive strength and, with attention to mixture design using silica fume and a low water-cementitious materials ratio (w/cm), can comfortably reach 6000 to 8000 psi (40 to 55 MPa) or more. Shotcrete also can easily use steel or synthetic fiber to significantly increase the toughness of the in-place concrete.

Finally, because shotcrete requires no formwork or bonding agent for a high-quality repair, you will find the shotcrete process provides an economical solution.

An article about a draft tube modification project can be found in our article archive.

We are constructing a new custom roundabout with water running through the bridges on the Coast of Zintan, Tripoli, Libya, using a three-dimensional (3-D) panel system. It’s basically a system with an expanded polystyrene (EPS) panel with a wire mesh and shotcrete on both sides. Because of the heat, sea salt, and high humidity of the region, we are looking for a mixture formula for a waterproof shotcrete for the exterior coating with the right aggregate size to help prevent moisture migration to the interior and prevent cracks. Do you have any recommendations for the shotcrete?2020-01-30T19:30:59+00:00

If looking for a low-permeability concrete mixture for shotcrete placement, you should consider using supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) such as silica fume, fly ash, or slag to reduce the permeability. You should also be sure to require a minimum 4000 psi 28-day compressive strength to assure good paste content and the ability to fully encase your reinforcement. The addition of microfibers and early wetting of the finished shotcrete surface will help to reduce the potential for early-age plastic shrinkage cracking. Proper curing for at least 7 days is also important to help increase strength gain and reduce the potential for drying shrinkage cracking. You can consult our Buyer’s Guide to locate our corporate members, who may consult with you on the mixture design. However, please be aware that many of the panel systems with an EPS core don’t use high-velocity (60 to 80 mph) shotcrete for consolidation and compaction of the sprayed concrete, but use a low-velocity sprayed mortar (LVSM). Because LVSM doesn’t have the compaction of shotcrete impact, it depends on a more sophisticated and expensive cementitious mixture, often with a latex or other admixture to improve adhesion and reduce permeability. You’ll need to consult with the material supplier of the LVSM product to verify the permeability of their in-place product.

We’re building a pool 25 x 45 ft (7.6 x 14 m) and had a massive cave-in on our deep end. The builder wants to build temporary walls to shoot the shotcrete against, then remove the plywood walls and backfill with gravel. I’m wondering if this will work and if they will be able to remove the plywood without damaging the shotcrete walls. I know with typical forms you would prep the form with oil so the concrete doesn’t stick. Would that be necessary for shotcrete, too? Also, is there a recommended wait time for curing before we backfill?2020-01-30T19:30:43+00:00

Shooting shotcrete against a one-sided form (what you called a temporary wall) is a common way to build a shotcrete wall. Once the shotcrete sets and builds strength, the plywood form can easily be stripped off the back of the wall. Form release agents (not oil) can be applied to the plywood to make the stripping easier. Once the forms are removed and the concrete has gained adequate strength, the walls can be backfilled with compacted soil or gravel, depending on the drainage needs.

We recommend 7 days of curing. Continuous water curing is best, but if impractical, applying a curing compound on the exposed surface at twice the manufacturer’s recommended rate for a good seal is acceptable. If they remove the forms before 7 days, they should also water cure or apply curing compound to that newly exposed surface. The shotcrete needs to build up enough strength to resist the external force of the backfill, so check with the pool designer to see what they need for the required strength of the concrete before backfilling. With most good-quality shotcrete materials and placement techniques, you can expect about 4000 psi (28 MPa) compressive strength in 7 days.

I am working on a restoration of a small 1870s train station constructed of serpentine stone in the Philadelphia, PA, area. In many areas the stone has deteriorated, leaving deep “divets” in the exterior wall faces and, in some cases, there is no stone at all. Our intent is to build (infill) the walls back to a flush face for stucco treatment for the lower portions of the wall and to repair or replace stone above that point. Is there a minimum amount of treatment recommended for a shotcrete application? If it can be used for such an application, is reinforcement required? The stone is rather friable and I don’t want to attach too much to it for fear of further damaging the stone.2020-01-30T19:30:23+00:00

This is a great application for shotcrete placement of high-quality concrete without formwork. If you are merely adding shotcrete to fill out to a uniform surface profile without any structural requirements you may not need reinforcement. However, it may still be advisable to include fibers in the shotcrete mixture to help control plastic shrinkage cracking. Generally, you would want to keep a minimum thickness of 1 in. (25 mm) to provide enough thickness for finishing. If you need the shotcreted sections to be self-supporting and carry loads as structural concrete, you should consult with a structural engineer to determine the appropriate thickness and reinforcement for the expected loads. Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete, so standard reinforced concrete design is appropriate for shotcreted sections.

How much shotcrete coverage over No. 4 reinforcing bar is required?2020-01-30T19:30:04+00:00

Shotcrete is simply a placement method for concrete. The specified concrete cover over reinforcing bar is usually included in contract documents for construction and values vary depending on exposure conditions. ACI 318 provides cover requirements for structural concrete in buildings, and ACI 350 provides cover requirements for concrete liquid-containing structures. Local building codes and fire codes may also require specific cover in concrete construction. If your project doesn’t specify the cover requirements, we recommend you consult with a professional engineer experienced in the type of project you are working on to learn what the code requirements may be.

What is the best way to check the sand-to-cement ratio in gunite batch trucks? Is it normal (common) to get up to 10% air straight from the mixing auger? I had a gunite truck fill a 5 gal. (19 L) bucket with mixed material (sand and cement) then put it in my lab mixer and wetted it up to a 3 in. (75 mm) slump and ran a test for air, unit weight, and cast a set of cylinders. I am trying to figure out the sand-to-cement ratio, but I don’t have a cement diverter to run a real-time sand-to-cement ratio test, so I am testing dispensed material to see if it makes 70% strength in 7 days, which indicates a good mixture. Are there any other ways of checking sand-to-cement proportions? I tested the mixed material in a lab about 5 minutes after it was dispensed.2020-01-30T19:29:50+00:00

By “gunite batch truck” we assume you are referring to a volumetric mixer supplying material for a dry-mix shotcrete operation. Gunite is the original tradename for what we now call dry-mix shotcrete. Here’s the description from an ACI Materials Journal (January-February 1991 issue) article about the calibration of volumetric mixers:

“To insure production of quality concrete, each volumetric-measuring unit must be calibrated for each respective concrete ingredient, following the manufacturer’s recommendations and ASTM C 685. These ingredients must be the same as those to be used in actual concrete production. The measuring devices for aggregates, cement, and dry admixtures are calibrated by weighing the discharged ingredient. Devices for water, latex modifier (if required), and liquid admixtures such as air-entraining and water-reducing admixtures generally are calibrated by weighing or measuring the volume of the discharged ingredient. The objective of calibration is to coordinate the discharge of all concrete ingredients to produce the proper mixture.”

ASTM C685/C685M states, “The proportioning and indicating devices shall be individually checked by following the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations as related to each individual concrete batching and mixing unit. Adequate standard volume measures, scales, and weights shall be made available for the checking accuracy of the proportioning mechanism.” Thus, you need to check with your equipment supplier for their recommended procedures to verify batching. Because concrete mixtures always are based on weight of ingredients there you will need to weigh a given volume to confirm the batching is accurate.

The air content test is a measure of total air so includes both entrapped and entrained air. Ten percent is definitely high. The 10% air is likely not representative of the in-place shotcrete. It may have been an issue with the lab mixer introducing more entrapped air for some reason. Estimating the air content from the unit weight test requires a good value for the theoretical unit weight. I’m not sure if you have that with the volumetric batching. You should run the air meter test (ASTM C231/C231M) to measure the air content to get a more accurate assessment.

Regarding the verification of mixture proportions, this is from ASTM C685/C685M:

“7.5 Proportioning Check—Whenever the sources or characteristics of the ingredients are changed, or the characteristics of the mixture are noted to have changed, the purchaser is permitted to require a check of the fine aggregate content and the coarse aggregate content by use of the washout test. Essentially, in the washout test, 1 ft3 [0.03 m3] of concrete is washed through a No. 4 [4.75-mm] sieve and through a No. 100 [150-µm] sieve; that retained on the No. 4 sieve is normally considered coarse aggregate whereas that passing the No. 4 and retained on the No. 100 sieve is considered fine aggregate. Corrections to the quantity of aggregates (per cubic foot or cubic meter of concrete) shall be made if the original sieve analysis of each aggregate is available.”

Because you are only interested in the sand and cement, you can simply weigh the sample of concrete, then wash out all the cement, and then weigh the remaining sand. You would need to bring the sand to roughly the same moisture content as the sand in the truck, so you aren’t including in the weight of excess water in the sand. You should note that with shotcrete impact during placement we will generally lose 50% of the air content, so your final in-place air should be around 5%. That is a reasonable value for good freezing-and-thawing durability.

I would like to better understand the limitations related to the height of install when it comes to the gunite application. Because gunite is a dry concrete mixed with water at the nozzle of the applying apparatus, I have been told by others in the industry that the application is only intended for use of walls less than 4 or 5 ft tall. If that is the case, is it safe to assume that the gunite application strategy should not be used for below-grade vaults exceeding a height of 5 ft? I am looking for design literature specific to gunite.2020-01-30T19:29:32+00:00

Dry-mix shotcrete adds mixing water to the dry concrete materials as the concrete materials flow through and out the nozzle. Gunite is the original tradename for dry-mix shotcrete. Though you may not find design information using the old gunite name, you will find numerous current design references to dry-mix shotcrete. This includes ACI 506R-16, “Guide to Shotcrete”; ACI 506.2-13, “Specification for Shotcrete”; ACI 506.6T-17, “Visual Shotcrete Core Quality Evaluation Technote”; ACI 372, “Design and Construction of Circular Wrapped Prestressed Concrete Tanks”; ACI 350-06, “Code Requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures”; ACI 350.5, “Specifications for Environmental Concrete Structures”; and seven ASTMs that directly cover shotcrete. ACI 318-19, “Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete,” has also added specific shotcrete provisions. Dry-mix shotcrete has been used for decades to build structural concrete walls over 50 ft high in circular prestressed concrete tanks that withstand a full head of water pressure. This is a substantially greater water pressure than your 5 ft vault wall would experience. There are no limitations in the dry-mix placement process that would preclude use in high walls. Both dry-mix and wet-mix shotcrete using quality materials, proper equipment, and experienced placement crews will produce in-place concrete of equal strength, durability, and low permeability. However, generally wet-mix shotcrete can offer placement rates up to four times higher than dry-mix. Thus, in thicker, longer walls, wet-mix shotcrete may be more cost-effective because it can be placed faster.

One quick question regarding the “grading” of cores based on 506.2: I imagine the 1995 standard-based 1 through 5 grading system is no longer valid? In one case the special inspector has failed a core (score of 5) simply because a piece of it broke off during the coring and removal from the coring cylinder. I’m leery of that type of failed rating. What do you think about that, and core grading in general?2020-01-30T19:29:14+00:00

The current version of the ACI “Specification for Shotcrete” is ACI 506.2-13 and purposely eliminated the core grading due to many problems that arose in the field in trying to equitably apply the procedure. ACI 506 has a new document ACI 506.6T-17, “Visual Shotcrete Core Quality Evaluation Technote,” that is intended to assist specifiers with evaluating shotcrete core quality for an intended use. So yes, the 506.2-95 version of the specification and the grading system it included is no longer supported as an industry standard.

Regarding grading, a shotcrete score of 5 under the deprecated grading system just because the core broke during coring is unreasonable. The coring operation exerts a massive force on the core, as it basically rips it out of the concrete. We have seen many instances where the core snapped where a large reinforcing bar horizontally crossed the core and effectively created a slip plane that reduced the shear resistance of the core section to the torque created by the coring. In those cases, examining the core hole for any evidence of shotcrete problems would be appropriate and then discounting the core itself.

In summary, my position and the ACI 506 Committee’s position is that core grading should not be used for evaluating shotcrete quality. The ACI 506.6T-17 Technote document should be the current reference for making a reasonable evaluation of shotcrete quality for the intended use.

What is the minimum spacing between reinforcing bar recommended in a shotcrete swimming pool deep-end wall. The engineer is calling out for 12 in. (300 mm) walls with a double mat of No. 5 bars at 4 in. (100 mm) on center each way. In my opinion, this does not give enough space to properly encase the reinforcing bar with shotcrete without creating voids and trapping uncontrollable rebound.2020-01-30T19:28:56+00:00

The engineer designs the wall based on the loads anticipated on it throughout its service life. The minimum spacing for noncontact lap splices as indicated in ACI 506.2, “Specification for Shotcrete,” is:

“Clearance of at least three times the diameter of the largest reinforcing bar; three times the maximum size aggregate; or 2 in., whichever is least”

In your case with No. 5 bars, the 2 in. (50 mm) minimum probably controls and would then provide a 2.6 in. (64 mm) center-to-center spacing. No. 5 bars at 4 in. spacing can be shot properly with proper materials and technique. An ACI-certified shotcrete nozzleman will have had education that explains how this configuration or even closer spacing can be shot properly. Experienced shotcrete contractors doing structural concrete walls do this type of work routinely with excellent results. If you are concerned about encasement of the reinforcing steel in the back curtain of steel you may consider erecting only the back curtain of steel, shooting the wall out to the location of the outer curtain of reinforcement, erecting the outer curtain, and then shooting out to the final surface. Experienced shotcrete contractors have shot in thick sections (36 in. [900 mm] thick or more) with heavy reinforcement (No. 11 at 4 in.) using this technique.

What is the cure time for shotcrete before paint can be sprayed? And what type of paint (latex or oil-based) would work best?2020-01-30T19:28:37+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Thus, cure time is the same as what the coating manufacturer recommends for new concrete surfaces. Because moisture in the concrete surface is part of the concern of bond from manufacturers, a water-based latex may be preferable to oil-based, but you should discuss the appropriate time and materials with your coating supplier.

With structural shotcrete walls, what is the anticipated shear strength of the sprayed shotcrete to a vertical wall with geotextile fabric applied to a retention system? What is the anticipated dead load of the sprayed shotcrete at the base of the sprayed wall when the shotcrete wall is sprayed to a nominal thickness of 6 in. (150 mm)? Also, what is the maximum wall thickness that can be sprayed in a single pass application with a normal mixture design to achieve 4800 to 5000 psi strength?2020-01-30T19:28:19+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Thus, structural properties are equivalent to those of concrete with specified strength. Shotcrete compressive strengths will normally range from 4000 to 7000 psi at 28 days, so your 4800 to 5000 psi (33 to 35 MPa) is very normal. Density of shotcrete placed concrete is the same as cast concrete ranging from 145 to 150 lb/ft3. Walls can generally be built at any required thickness because we will create the wall by bench shooting building the wall from the bottom to the top in vertical lifts.

We are applying a new shotcrete shell to an existing building. We are calling for a 5 in. (125 mm) base coat with a 1/4 in. (6 mm) brush-finished flash coat. We are specifying a color admixture for all of the shotcrete. It is a large building and we anticipate several days of shotcrete operations. Would it be wise to allow (or even specify): 1) the color admixture to be used in the flash coat only? 2) all of the flash coat to be applied at once, possibly days after all of the base coat has been installed, to achieve a more uniform final appearance?2020-01-30T19:27:39+00:00

If you only need color in the exposed shotcrete surface, just putting color in the flash coat should be adequate as long as the flash coat is continuous across the entire area. You may want to specify the final “flash” layer to be thicker, perhaps 1/2 in. (12 mm) to 1 in. (25 mm) thick. This would help assure consistent color and still allow the finishers to produce a consistent final texture. As long as the concrete materials are the same in the production, you wouldn’t need to shoot the final layer all in one day. Also, be sure curing methods are the same for the entire area as varying moisture can sometimes affect the early appearance of the coloring, though it usually balances out over time.

I am currently researching shotcrete machines for a sewerage channel. Would dry-process or wet-process be more functional and efficient? I am new to the industry, so could you please give me some background information regarding the equipment used as well as information about the techniques and processes you would use? Could you also inform me about the factors like humidity and what effect they would have on what process you would use and how you would apply it? Please also let me know about any other information that you would consider as having a significant effect on the overall process.2020-01-30T19:27:24+00:00

The thickness of the shotcrete placement, site logistics, and the availability of ready-mixed concrete, as well as expertise of the shotcrete contractor would likely determine the most cost-effective method for shotcrete placement. Both dry-mix and wet-mix will produce structural concrete in place with similar physical properties and durability. Wet-mix can generally produce more volume of material placed per hour than dry-mix. You had several basic questions about shotcrete that can be answered by visiting sections of On our website, you will find the informational pages and beneficial. The Resources page lists many shotcrete-specific articles and web resources. The Archive Search allows you to search through our Shotcrete magazine archive for past articles using keywords. You may also find ACI 506R-16, “Guide to Shotcrete,” an informative primer on all aspects of shotcrete. You can purchase a PDF copy of the Guide from ACI at ACI Committee 506, Shotcreting, also has several other technical documents available for specification for shotcrete, evaluation of shotcrete cores, specifying underground shotcrete, and fiber-reinforced shotcrete you can find on the ACI website.

ACI 506R-16 discusses surface preparation requirements for various substrate surfaces and notes that for earth surfaces shotcrete shall not be placed on frozen ground. There does not appear to be any specific temperature requirement for other substrate materials, however. For concrete or masonry sub-straight surfaces, are there temperature requirements for shotcrete application in situ­ations where bond is not required?2020-01-30T19:27:04+00:00

All surfaces receiving shotcrete should be above freezing. The mandatory requirements of ACI 506.2-13, “Specification for Shotcrete,” specifies:

“3.4.5 Cold weather shotcreting—Unless otherwise specified, shooting may proceed when ambient temperature is 40°F and rising. Stop shooting when ambient temper­ature is 40°F and falling, unless measures are taken to protect the shotcrete. Shotcrete material temperature, when shot, shall not be less than 50ºF. Do not place shotcrete against frozen surfaces.”

Your question then asks about substrate temperatures for sections not requiring bond. The concern of frozen concrete is not only bond, but an issue with freezing of some thickness of the concrete that would prevent strength gain. For requirements on this, ACI 301-16, “Specifications for Structural Concrete,” would likely apply and requires:

“ Cold weather—Concrete temperatures at delivery shall meet the requirements of Do not place concrete in contact with surfaces less than 35°F. Unless otherwise specified, this requirement shall not apply to reinforcing steel.”

There is a discrepancy between ACI 301 and ACI 506.2. The ACI 301 value (35°F) is somewhat more conservative, though ACI 506.2 provisions (32°F) have proven to produce quality shotcrete. You may consider asking the Engineer of Record for your project what minimum substrate temperature is acceptable on your specific job.

I am working on a restoration of a small 1870s train station constructed of serpentine stone in the Philadelphia, PA, area. In many areas, the stone has deteriorated, leaving deep “divets” in the exterior wall faces and in some cases, there is no stone at all. Our intent is to build (infill) the walls back to a flush face for stucco treatment for the lower portions of the wall and to repair or replace stone above that point. Is there a minimum amount of treatment recommended for a shotcrete application? If it can be used for such an application, is reinforcing required? The stone is rather friable, and I don’t want to attach too much to it for fear of further damaging the stone. If shotcrete is not an appropriate approach for this repair, can you advise of other repair methods?2020-01-30T19:26:00+00:00

This is a great application for shotcrete placement of high-quality concrete without formwork. If you are merely adding shotcrete to fill out to a uniform surface profile without any structural requirements, you may not need reinforcement. However, it may still be advisable to include fibers in the shotcrete mixture to help control plastic shrinkage cracking. Generally, you would want to keep a minimum thickness of 1 in. (25 mm) to provide enough thickness for finishing. If you need the shotcreted sections to be self-supporting and carry loads as structural concrete, you should consult with a structural engineer to determine the appropriate thickness and reinforcement for the expected loads. Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete so standard reinforced concrete design is appropriate for shotcreted sections.

How much shotcrete coverage is required over No. 4 reinforcing bar?2020-01-30T19:25:42+00:00

Shotcrete is simply a placement method for concrete. The specified concrete cover over reinforcing bar is usually included in contract documents for construction and values vary depending on exposure conditions. ACI 318 provides cover requirements for structural concrete in buildings, and ACI 350 provides cover requirements for concrete liquid-containing structures. Local building codes and fire codes may also require specific cover in concrete construction. If your project doesn’t specify the cover requirements, we recommend you consult with a professional engineer experienced in the type of project you are working on to learn what the code requirements may be.

I would like to better understand the limitations related to the height of install when it comes to gunite application. Since gunite is a dry concrete mixed with water at the nozzle of the applying apparatus, I have been told by others in the industry that the application is only intended for use on walls less than 4 or 5 ft tall. If that is the case, it is safe to assume that the gunite application strategy should not be used for below-grade vaults exceeding a height of 5 ft? I am looking for design literature specific to gunite.2020-01-30T19:25:27+00:00

Dry-mix shotcrete adds mixing water to the dry concrete materials as the concrete materials flow through and out the nozzle. Gunite is the original tradename for dry-mix shotcrete. Though you may not find design information using the old gunite name, you will find numerous current design references to dry-mix shotcrete. This includes ACI 506R-16, “Guide to Shotcrete”; ACI 506.2, “Specification for Shotcrete”; ACI 506.6T-17, “Visual Shotcrete Core Quality Evaluation Technote”; ACI 372, “Guide to Design and Construction of Circular Wire-and-Strand-Wrapped Prestressed Concrete Structures”; ACI 350-06, “Code Requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures”; ACI 350.5, “Specifications for Environmental Concrete Structures”; as well as seven ASTM standards that directly cover shotcrete. ACI 318-19, “Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete,” has also added specific shotcrete provisions. Dry-mix shotcrete has been used for decades to build structural concrete walls over 50 ft (15 m) high in circular prestressed concrete tanks that withstand a full head of water pressure. This is substantially greater water pressure than your 5 ft vault wall would experience. There are no limitations in the dry-mix placement process that would preclude use in high walls. Both dry-mix and wet-mix shotcrete using quality materials, proper equipment, and experienced placement crews will produce in-place concrete of equal strength, durability, and low permeability. However, generally wet-mix shotcrete can offer placement rates up to four times higher than dry-mix. Thus, in thicker, longer walls, wet-mix shotcrete may be more cost effective because it can be placed faster.

I’m not satisfied with my subtrades blowout procedures for the shotcrete lines. I’m not an expert in this; however, the way they are doing it does not look safe. I’ve tried to Google and reach out to other shotcrete companies but have not had any luck. They use a hopper that concrete is pumped into and is disbursed through lines that are moved manually; this step is normal. But when they have a blockage or cleaning the line when done, they have two workers sit on the end. They use compressed air. There must be a better way to clean and clear a blockage than having human bodies as weights. Please give me some guidance.2020-01-30T19:25:10+00:00

ASA’s “Safety Guidelines for Shotcrete” specifically addresses hose blockages. Use of compressed air to clear blockages or for cleaning the lines is not recommended. The Guidelines state:

“With the variety of shotcrete material delivery systems available, and their placement on individual job sites, the Contractor should establish site-specific safety procedures applicable to the specific delivery systems and site conditions for blockage removal. Any field procedures for clearing blockages should not use compressed air as means to remove or dislodge blockages.”

Using water to clear blockages or the delivery lines when finishing shooting is the recommended procedure. However, if compressed air is used, the hose end must be securely fastened with a substantial fastening system that can routinely and safely handle the forces created if the concrete is discharged explosively. Shotcrete contractors have developed cleanout bins that clamp the hose end into a heavy steel tank and collect the waste concrete from the line for disposal. Others have created clamps that firmly hold the end of the hose to a loader bucket or other heavy piece of equipment, thus depending on the weight of the equipment to hold the hose end. Simply having two people sitting on the hose end is not safe and can result in injury to crew members. Even when holding the hose end with a clamping system on heavy equipment, clearing the line can cause an explosive discharge of concrete with material flying in a wide path from the hose. Unless planned for and contained, the material stream can hit adjacent workers, facilities, equipment, and vehicles.

Surely you are aware of the recent OSHA regulations regarding Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS). Does ASA have any information about typical levels of RCS generated during indoor shotcreting? Do you have any recommendations for an apparatus to test levels to ensure safety of our workers and OSHA compliance?2020-01-30T19:24:51+00:00

ASA has closely followed the development of the new OSHA rules for a couple of years before they were put into effect. You can find several articles in Shotcrete magazine that specifically address the rules in consideration of shotcrete application. In the Summer 2016 issue, an article, “OSHA’s New Crystalline Silica Rule–Potential Impact on Shotcrete Operations,” addressed many of the concerns. Unfortunately, with the wide variety of shooting conditions, there are no generic values. The reason for this is that the levels can vary significantly due to a variety of factors, including:

  1. The materials used—this includes comparing wet-mix to dry-mix and the variations in variability of concrete mixture design ingredients (for example, silica fume, fly ash, and accelerator).
  2. Equipment
    1. Dry-mix gun type (rotary or chamber), using a predampener or not (type of wet-mix pump likely doesn’t make much difference)
    2. Size of air compressor (more air might result in more dust)
    3. Delivery line and hose (1.5 in. [40 mm] hose versus 2 in. [50 mm]) can change volume of flow, and then level of acceleration and nozzle stream dispersion as a function of air volume)
    4. Nozzle type can significantly affect the material stream
  3. Shooting location (inside or enclosed, or open air)

With so many variables it is difficult, if not impossible, to get any reliable “generic” number for shotcrete as a whole. Many of our shotcrete contractors are using air quality consulting firms or testing labs who have the monitoring equipment. You may want to note that silica fume is amorphous silica, not crystalline, so it is not hazardous. Most exposure to crystalline silica is through sawing, cutting, or grinding of hardened concrete. We expect that most shotcrete contractors will need to establish a reliable, accurate level by on-site testing because shotcrete is not directly covered in Table 1 of the OSHA rule.

I am looking through Chapter 20 of ACI 350-06, “Code Requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures and Commentary,” and I don’t see any suggested methods for repair—only that the structure (or any repair) must meet specified criteria (strength, load testing, etc.) for serviceability. I am trying to find some reference allowing shotcrete to be used to reestablish the thickness of an existing structure that has inadequate cover over reinforcement. Can you provide any guidance?2020-01-30T19:24:30+00:00

The ACI 350 Code doesn’t really cover repair in detail because it is more about new environmental structures. Shotcrete is concrete; it provides excellent bond to properly prepared concrete substrates and it inherently creates a composite section with the existing concrete that acts monolithically. The supplemental shotcrete could be considered an additional layer of concrete that acts monolithically and thus provides the needed concrete cover. Reference-wise, you could refer to the article “Shotcrete Placed in Multiple Layers does NOT Create Cold Joints” in the Shotcrete magazine archive, as it discusses the bond issue between layers. There are research papers that discuss a 200 psi (1.4 MPa) bond shear stress is needed for a bonded concrete overlay to act monolithically, and that bond pulloff (tensile) test results should be multiplied by 2 or 3 to represent the bond shear capacity. Because we typically well exceed a 145 psi (1.0 MPa) tensile bond pulloff strength, properly applied shotcrete will easily exceed the 200 psi requirement for the bond to act monolithically.

An additional factor in providing additional cover with shotcrete is that shotcrete has very cement-rich paste, along with low permeability, and thus provides a better alkaline environment to combat corrosion of embedded reinforcement, so is effectively giving even better cover than normal form-and-pour concrete.

Shotcrete is very rarely used in Belize. I am building a new home and purchased a shotcrete machine to apply exterior finishes to houses, and most importantly to my new pool. A very good contractor here (who has built many hand-plastered pools) has told me that we cannot use shotcrete in Belize because of the type of sand that we have. Is this true? Can the consistency of the sand make it impossible to use shotcrete?2020-01-30T19:24:08+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. If the sand can be used for concrete, it should be acceptable for shotcrete placement. To some extent, the type of shotcrete equipment may make a difference. If shooting wet-mix shotcrete, the concrete mixture must be able to be pumped. For pumpability, we do recommend a smooth gradation of the fine aggregate. If shooting dry-mix shotcrete, the sand gradation has much less effect, and you should be able to shoot most any sand in your concrete mixture.

I live in NW Florida, Fort Walton Beach. In 1987 a previous owner gutted and substantially rebuilt my house. The exterior brick walls were covered with wire mesh and over 1 in. (25 mm) of coquina shell shotcrete. I bought the house in 1993. I am forever trying to reduce my bills. I would like to find any information I can use to reduce my home insurance. Do you have any links to anyone that has data about my siding being more fire resistant or wind resistant than ordinary masonry/brick veneers? Any guidance you can provide will be greatly appreciated.2020-01-30T19:23:45+00:00

“Coquina shell shotcrete” is not a well-defined concrete material. Though it may have been promoted to you as shotcrete, it may well have been a stucco-like application accomplished with low-velocity plastering equipment, and thus not high-velocity shotcrete placement. Without physical characteristics of the in-place material (strength, density, type, and amount of reinforcement), it is hard to delineate the structural enhancement the coating may provide. You could have an evaluation by an engineer or testing lab to ascertain the characteristics of the in-place material. Then refer to ACI 216.1-14, “Code Requirements for Determining Fire Resistance of Concrete and Masonry Construction Assemblies,” to see whether your composite system has enhanced fire resistance as compared to brick alone. Regarding wind resistance, you would need to have a structural engineer evaluate the composite system for any potential increase in strength against wind loadings.

I have some hairline cracks visible in the outer 3 in. (75 mm) thick shotcrete outer shell of a monolithic dome home. How concerned should I be about them? The outer coat was applied 10 months ago and they seem to be spreading. The shotcrete was applied over chain-link fencing. These cracks are several feet long and most are from doorway or window openings. What is the best/easiest way to repair these?2020-01-30T19:23:28+00:00

The design of any concrete structure must consider loadings and environmental conditions. This includes drying shrinkage of the concrete, and daily and seasonal thermal changes that introduce stresses within the concrete sections. Domes are thin-shell concrete structures and stress concentrations are expected around any openings through the shell. Typically, the design engineer will provide additional reinforcing bars around openings and especially at corners of openings to accommodate the buildup of stresses in these locations. Also, chain-link fence is not considered as acceptable concrete reinforcement, as it cannot accept tension in a straight orientation within the concrete. Proper concrete reinforcement is either deformed reinforcing bars or steel mesh with smooth wires laid out in an orthogonal pattern.

You should have a professional engineer with experience in concrete shell design and construction evaluate your dome home for structural integrity. If the cracking is determined to not affect the structural integrity, epoxy or polyurethane grout injection is routinely used to seal cracks in concrete.

What is the maximum lift for an 8 in. (200 mm) wall against wood lagging temporary shoring?2020-01-30T19:22:54+00:00

There is not a fixed value that one can use for maximum lift height. The maximum lift height when bench shooting is controlled by the concrete mixture (admixtures, aggregate, slump), concrete temperature, size and layout of reinforcement, substrate being shot against, and ambient temperatures. These factors must be evaluated by the nozzleman during the placement. The maximum height is constrained by the ability of the fresh concrete in the lower portion of the lift to carry the weight of concrete in higher portions without creating sagging or sloughing. Hot weather conditions will allow higher lift heights than cold weather in non-accelerated concrete mixtures.

I recently had a project that requires a velocity of ±400 psi (2.8 MPa) to be applied to prepared areas of deteriorated concrete. My questions is: What is the velocity of the material being applied if I am using 50 ft x 1-1/2 in. (15 m x 38 mm) shooting hose with 60 psi (0.4 MPa) supplied pressure? I would also like to know how that is calculated.2020-01-30T19:22:20+00:00

Shotcrete placement requires high velocity for full consolidation and compaction of the concrete. Standard shotcrete equipment with a properly sized air compressor will produce a velocity of 60 to 80 mph (95 to 130 km/h). The 400 psi you stated is not a velocity, but a pressure. Sixty psi is a very low air pressure and may not create the velocity needed for proper shotcrete placement. Shotcrete generally uses compressors that create 100 to 125 psi of air pressure. Also, depending on the shotcrete process used (wet-mix or dry-mix), ACI 506R-16, “Guide to Shotcrete,” states you need an air compressor that can produce a flow rate of at least 200 ft3/min (5.7 m3/min) for wet-mix to 600 ft3/min (17 m3/min) for dry-mix for your 1-1/2 in. diameter hose.

Per contract I have to reinforce first-floor walls with 5 in. (125 mm), 4000 psi (28 MPa) concrete. Due to poor condition of the backup wall, conventional form-and-pour is not an option. I have proposed the use of shotcrete to the architect. What type of shotcrete will meet design criteria for this type of work?2020-01-30T19:21:58+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. It is routinely used to strengthen existing masonry or concrete walls. The 5 in. thickness can be easily achieved with either dry-mix or wet-mix shotcrete. If using dry-mix, you may want to review available prepackaged bagged dry concrete materials. A comprehensive listing of our ASA member companies supplying bagged dry concrete materials can be found in our online Buyers Guide. If using wet-mix, the local concrete supplier should be able to provide concrete mixture designs that will achieve the 4000 psi compressive strength requirement. Dry-mix and wet-mix processes use different equipment and skills of nozzlemen are somewhat different. We encourage requiring use of an ACI-certified shotcrete nozzlemen in the process to be used on the project. If looking to select a qualified shotcrete contractor, you may want to review our ASA position paper on Shotcrete Contractor and Crew Qualifications.

Are there cases of shotcrete being sprayed on the underside of metal floor decking for the purpose of sound transfer reduction and dampening between levels? If so, are there special application methods and formulations?2020-01-30T19:21:32+00:00

We could not identify any specific cases of shotcreting onto metal decking for sound dampening. However, shotcrete is used in a wide variety of overhead applications, and as long as we can get good bond to the underside of the metal decking, should perform well. Depending on the surface profile of the metal decking, you may want to consider attaching studs to the decking to enhance the overall bond of the concrete. You may also want to consider using lightweight shotcrete since the concrete sounds like it is more for acoustic purposes, than for structural.

The company installing our pool ran short of wet mix by about 4 yd3 (3 m3). The pressure truck left, leaving one finisher behind. It was about an hour before the last of the material arrived and what had already been placed had pretty much set. He added about 20 gal. (76 L) of water so he could get it in place. The fully exposed areas, I feel, would be OK. However, the long tapered overlays concern me for strength; it seems like more of a patch. Since it was not shot in place to compress and integrate it, will it bond and strengthen properly?2020-01-30T19:18:59+00:00

Proper shotcrete placement of concrete depends on high-velocity impact of the concrete materials for full consolidation. Though not clear from your inquiry, it sounds like the additional concrete was just dumped in place without high-velocity impact. Thus, you simply have normal cast concrete that would require some type of external vibration to densify and properly consolidate the concrete. The bond of cast concrete would be inferior to the bond from shotcrete since you do not have the high-velocity impact driving the cement paste into the previously shot material. Also, adding 20 gal. of water at the site would substantially weaken the concrete from the original design strength of the concrete mixture. Further, feathering edging in a joint is not recommended since you end up with a very thin overlay at some point that may tend to spall or delaminate much more easily at the thinner section. A better approach when running short of concrete is to stop and prepare a joint for later shotcreting. For best bond, joints should be cut at a 45-degree angle, roughened, and then cleaned and wetted immediately before shooting.

Thus, answering your final question, in summary the bond will be reduced, and with the higher water content, the concrete will be weaker than properly shotcreted concrete.

We are currently working on a job that requires integral color for a sculpted rock facing, but the plant close to the job does not supply color. The DOT we are working for has informed us they will not approve the use of retarder in the mixture so we can order the colored mixture from a plant that is 50 minutes away from the site because they are worried about long-term strength of the material decreasing. Do you know of any literature that we can provide to the DOT regarding effects of retarder on 28-day strength of shotcrete?2020-01-30T19:18:40+00:00

Shotcrete is concrete. PCA’s Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures, 16th Edition states: “In general, some reduction in strength at early ages (one to three days) accompanies the use of retarders. However, increased long-term strength may result from retarding the initial rate of hydration. Excessive addition rates of a retarding admixture may permanently inhibit the hydration of cement.” Thus, if you closely follow the admixture manufacturer’s recommendations for dosage, you may get higher long-term strength than non-retarded mixtures. You may also consider use of the newer hydration control admixtures that essentially stop hydration until activated, and can theoretically put the concrete “to sleep” for up to 3 days.

I have three apartment buildings (with three, four, and five units). Their basements were insulated just over 10 years ago with closed cell spray foam with a class one fire rating. Now for some reason, the building inspector says I have to cover the foamed walls of all three large basements with 0.5 in. (12 mm) drywall and build stud walls to hang the drywall for fire protection. This would reduce the width of the basement stairs significantly, and they would become so narrow that they would then be out of compliance. These basement walls are uneven field­­stone foundations, with bumps, protrusions, and even some curves. I was thinking that shotcrete-applied concrete might work much better and be more appropriate than wood and drywall for a sometimes-moist basement. According to the local Building Code, a 2 in. (50 mm) layer of concrete would suffice. How can a shotcrete application be made to adhere to closed cell foam? The wall heights are approximately 7 ft (2 m) plus bond.2020-01-30T19:18:23+00:00

Shotcrete is just a placement method for concrete. So shotcreting will provide the fire resistance of concrete. For securing the concrete, you can place anchors through the foam into the original basement wall. You can consult with an engineer experienced with shotcrete on anchor size and spacing required for supporting the shotcrete layer.

There is a dam rehabilitation project where stepped reinforced cement concrete (RCC) was used for overflow protection. The surface is spalling rather badly and testing indicated that the RCC was marginal for long-term durability. Is it feasible to place shotcrete over RCC to improve aesthetics and provide additional strength and durability?2020-01-30T19:18:01+00:00

Shotcrete has been used for over 100 years for slope stabilization on natural soils. Your self-consolidating concrete (SCC) sounds like it could be considered a high-grade soil, so stabilization and protection of the SCC with shotcrete is certainly a good application for shotcrete. The fresh surface of the shotcrete can receive a wide variety of finishes, from an as-shot finish (rough) to a floated or even stamped or carved look. You should consider appropriate amounts of reinforcement (reinforcing bars and/or fibers) to control potential shrinkage cracking, as appropriate for your exposure and serviceability requirements.

Are there industry-standard design guides for the design of formwork for shotcrete? I have reviewed the technical questions and found the article “Dynamic Forces during Shotcreting Operations” by Frederic Gagnon and Marc Jolin, but the impact loads in this article are quite small (approximately 90 lb [40 kg] per nozzle application), and I feel uncomfortable using that as the sole design load. However, since there is little to no hydrostatic load from shotcrete, I am having a difficult time coming up with a reasonable design load in lieu of this.2020-01-30T19:17:42+00:00

Shotcrete placement produces very localized pressure on the one-sided forms we typically use. The 90 lb (40 kg) is a reasonable figure when shooting directly against the form. If shooting thick walls, we typically use a benching approach for placement that puts most of the force directly on the supporting floor (or earth) and putting little force on the form. Thus, the form is more of a way to define the back surface. You will often see shotcrete forms in lower-height applications using thin forming materials such as Masonite, pegboard, or even a stay-form for the formed surface. Often, the larger load controlling the design on a form may be the wind loads expected during the construction period.

I have a project where the foundation sub is planning to shotcrete foundations walls instead of pouring them. They’ve submitted all the procedural things necessary to prove their competence and know what they’re doing. For a portion of our foundation, we’re immediately adjacent to an existing building. The sub mentioned today on site that they were not planning to put Styrofoam or anything between our new wall and the existing wall that would resist lateral pressure from the fluid concrete and the question was raised whether this is ok or not (FYI there is still rigid insulation, waterproofing, etc.). The argument is that the concrete is obviously stiff enough to stay in place, thanks to the nozzle-applied admixture, without an interior form that it wouldn’t be exerting any lateral pressure on the adjacent wall. I can follow that logic and almost buy it but I’m wondering if we still need something to resist the force applied from actually shooting the concrete in place?2020-01-30T19:17:25+00:00

Shotcrete is a high-velocity placement of concrete. In most thick walls, as I imagine your foundation walls are, the shotcrete contractor will be bench shooting the walls. This means they will be shooting the full wall thickness in 3 to 4 ft (0.9 to 1.2 m) high lifts where most of the impact forces and weight of the shotcrete is carried by the previously shot material. This results in very low impact forces on the back side of the section. When creating a section with a one-sided form, shotcrete contractors have used thin material, like Masonite, pegboard, or even an expanded mesh material, as we just need to have a surface to define the back of the section.

What is the cure time for shotcrete?2020-01-30T19:17:10+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete construction. Shotcrete-placed concrete should be properly cured to provide desired strength and reduce potential shrinkage. ACI 308.1-11, “Specification for Curing Concrete,” and ACI 308R-16, “Guide to External Curing of Concrete” are excellent reference documents. ASA recommends curing a minimum of 7 days, and prefers curing with water, maintaining a continuously wet surface condition for the 7-day period. If using a curing membrane instead of water curing, ASA recommends applying the curing membrane at twice the curing membrane manufacturer’s recommended application rate, and applying in two layers with the second perpendicular to the first. If applying a coating over the final concrete surface, you should check with the coating supplier to verify the duration and properties required before application of the coating.

We are looking for the application of shotcrete on tidal waters. We are located on Lower Puget sound in Washington state and need examples where this has been used and is holding up under the moving tides. The examples don’t have to be applied to our area; the same conditions may apply to other saltwater areas.2020-01-30T19:16:54+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for high-quality concrete. Here’s a link to an article of a rehabilitation of a concrete-supported lighthouse in the Saint Lawrence Seaway (Pointe de la Prairie Lighthouse) that provides a lot of detail on an installation similar to yours, including salt-water exposure in a tidal zone: ( Plus, this project also has extreme freezing-and-thawing exposure.

We had a spa added to an existing pool. The shotcrete was too liquid and sloughed off to the bottom. The shotcrete contractor scooped the sloughed material from the bottom with his hands and put it back on the wall. There are fissures and holes in the wall. There was also reinforcing steel close to the surface of the wall. The cold joint at the existing pool wall wasn’t prepared. They added a shotcrete seat to the existing pool over the old Marcite with no removal or roughening up of the surface. They then refused to water cure it. There wasn’t enough reinforcing steel and formwork from the pool company, so the shotcrete contractor had to stop and add more steel from steel I had lying around. So, the shotcrete sat in the truck for quite a while before shooting. We are concerned about the quality of the pool.2020-01-30T19:16:39+00:00

You are correct in suspecting quality issues with your pool. These are the specific issues that lead to poor quality, that can affect the serviceability and durability of your pool.

  1. Shotcrete placement requires high velocity and impact for compaction of the concrete. Hand-applying “sloughed-off” concrete would not provide proper compaction needed for producing monolithic concrete sections. The resultant fissures and voids in your pool reflect the lack of proper velocity and compaction.
  2. Proper preparation of the substrate is essential for good bond and creating a concrete section that acts monolithically. The surface needs to have any materials that would interfere with the bond removed, be roughened, cleaned, and brought to a saturated surface-dry condition before shotcrete placement. This article from Shotcrete magazine gives more details on how and why surface preparation is important (
  3. Concrete cover over the reinforcing bar is critical for maintaining corrosion protection of the embedded steel, and thus providing long-term durability. Low cover will often result in premature corrosion and subsequent spalling of the concrete cover, reducing the serviceability and life of the pool concrete.
  4. Curing is important for all concrete, and especially for the relatively cement-rich concrete we use for wet-mix shotcrete. Curing essentially provides additional water to hydrate the cement in the concrete, and produces stronger, less permeable concrete. Not curing concrete yields concrete that is weaker, more permeable, and ultimately less suitable for creating a watertight pool shell.
  5. You haven’t indicated the actual time concrete sat for “a while.” Industry standards are that concrete should be placed within 90 minutes of the introduction of water to the mixture unless special precautions are taken. Water is usually added at the ready mix plant. If concrete sits too long it can start to lose workability. At the point of losing workability, some contractors will add additional water on site over and above the concrete mixture design requirements, but this “retempering” produces concrete that is weaker and more permeable than the original design mixture.

Based on your input, you have many good reasons to ask the contractor to provide full remediation of these quality issues.

We are a small community in south central Illinois with a deteriorating masonry building issue that drastically needs to be addressed. I have been looking at your shotcrete product and I am thinking that this may be the most efficient and economical way to protect these exposed surfaces from the elements and stabilize these structures. My question to you is: Have any other communities used this product for this purpose, can this product be used in a situation such as ours, or am I just barking up the wrong tree? The wall in question is three stories tall, about 40 ft (12 m); the exposed wall was interior multi-course thick masonry from the late 1800s-era.2020-01-30T19:16:21+00:00

Your proposed project is a great application for shotcrete. We’ve seen shotcrete used for enhancing structural integrity of historic masonry structures across the country. Often shotcrete is used on the back side of the wall to add structural strength while preserving the exterior appearance. In effect, we build a structural concrete wall in-place behind the old wall. Shotcrete has the natural advantage of not requiring any formwork, and can create a good bond to the existing wall, letting the structure elements work together. Here’s a link to a past article from Shotcrete magazine documenting the restoration of a historic brick building ( If you don’t need to preserve the exterior appearance, you can certainly shotcrete the exterior of the wall using the same approach. You can finish the interior (or exterior) surfaces in a variety of ways to provide the architectural appearance you desire. Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete, so using shotcrete will provide a final structure with the strength and durability of cast concrete. By the way, the term “gunite” is the old tradename for what we currently call “dry-mix shotcrete.” Let us know if you have any further questions.

We are in the swimming pool design and construction industry as a general contractor. We subcontracted a large percentage of the work to complete a project — namely, the shotcrete of the pool shell, and were very unhappy with the results. The walls are not plumb and areas are not shot to the full thickness. We didn’t check out the contractor’s current work and he is incapable of making any repairs. We have done corrective chipping and bush hammering to get the walls plumb and areas at the proper grade. However, many areas need to be filled to the proper thickness up to 2 in. (50 mm). Can this be done with either a dry or wet mix? Do you need to bush hammer a recessed area to accept a minimum amount of new material in lieu of a feather edge? Is a wet mix acceptable to fill these areas given that the aggregate in it is generally up to 0.375 in. (9.5 mm) or so? With the dry mix being primarily concrete sand and cement it would seem more practical.2020-01-30T19:16:02+00:00

As you discovered, experience of the shotcrete contractor is key to a successful project. It takes an experienced and knowledgeable shotcrete team (the project manager, supervisor, pump or gun operator, nozzlemen, and finishers) to get a quality job. Answering your specific questions:

  1. Can this be done with either a dry or wet mix? Yes, either wet or dry mix will produce good results. You must be sure to properly prepare the substrate including chipping/bush hammering back to sound concrete, fully cleaning the surface and then bringing the surface to a saturated surface-dry condition (SSD).
  2. Do you need to bush a recessed area to accept a minimum amount of new material in lieu of a feather edge? Feather edging will create a very thin layer that would have more potential to spall when exposed to shrinkage or seasonal thermal movements. We recommend creating a square shoulder at least 0.75 in. (19.0 mm) deep to create an acceptable thickness of the patching layer.
  3. Is a wet mix acceptable to fill these areas given that the aggregate in it is generally up to 0.375 in. or so? With the dry-mix being primarily concrete sand and cement it would seem more practical. Wet-mix with a coarse aggregate can be shot in thin layers, but with a 0.375 in. coarse aggregate may require more finishing due to impact depressions of the aggregate in the shot surface. A dry-mix material without coarse aggregate may be easier to fill in the thin layers. Dry mix is typically less productive in volume placed per hour than wet mix, but in this relatively small-volume repair application, either process should be fine.
Are there published tolerances for shotcrete, specifically wall thickness, plumbness, and irregularities in surface, or should these tolerances be provided on the construction drawings? ACI 117 provides these tolerances for cast-in-place concrete, but specifically states it does not apply to shotcrete.2020-01-30T19:15:22+00:00

ACI 117 provides an excellent guide for tolerances for concrete structures. Although shotcrete is concrete, ACI 117 specifically excludes shotcrete because shotcrete’s unique method of placement permits a wider variety of applications and uses than that of form-and-pour concrete. Shotcrete can generally be finished to the tolerances required for the application. For example, lining a channel might not need close tolerance control, while an Olympic luge/sledding track or skateboard park may require very exacting tolerances. ACI 506.2-16, “Specification for Shotcrete,” in the Tolerances section (and the Mandatory checklist item) requires the specifier producing the contract documents to provide the tolerances required for the project. ACI 506R-16, “Guide to Shotcrete,” Section 3.8, Tolerances, provides a more descriptive commentary. Pertinent portions of that section include:

  • Tolerances provide an indication of the finished product expected by the owner, but meeting tolerances may require additional effort and cost. Tolerances given by ACI 117.1R, for placement of reinforcing steel, cover over reinforcing steel, and overall alignment of cast-in-place structural members should be generally the same for shotcrete. Tolerances that require distinct values for shotcrete construction are cross-sectional dimensions, cover, and surface finish (or flatness). Therefore, specifying tolerances that can be consistently achieved are needed so that project expectations can be met at a reasonable cost.
  • Specified tolerances should be based on use and function and can be the same as concrete, but are typically broader. Some finished surface tolerances may be waived to achieve proper coverage over existing reinforcement.

Although some shotcrete structures have been allowed greater tolerances than allowed for concrete, shotcrete structures can be built to the same degree of accuracy and tolerance as cast-in-place concrete.

You should review the entirety of Section 3.8, Tolerances, in ACI 506R-16 to get a complete description of tolerances for shotcrete placements.

We have a question about the shotcrete setup strength for the exclusion zone in underground shotcrete work. New York and others are requiring a shotcrete exclusion zone (an area excluded from personnel) based upon either time or strength. The UK asks for an engineered approach to this minimum strength. Do you have any information on this?2020-01-30T19:04:36+00:00

The minimum strength for safety must be established by the designer based on the specific structural and geotechnical aspects of the project. The minimum strength value may also be influenced on whether using fiber-reinforced shotcrete or plain shotcrete. The early-age strength was tested with a Meyco Needle Penetrometer after creating a time (early) strength curve with minimum tests at 10 minutes and 30 minutes with Needle Penetrometer; then at 3 hours and 6 hours with Hilti Studs; then at 1, 7, and 28 days with cores. Thus, the curve was calibrated for the specific mixture and environmental conditions. It was also useful to identify when early strength (and potentially long-term strength) was lacking.

Will the new ACI Tech Note for core evaluation (ACI 506.6T-17, “Visual Shotcrete Core Quality Evaluation”) replace ACI 506.2-95, “Specification for Shotcrete”? That document has some sections about core evaluation.2020-01-30T19:04:17+00:00

ACI 506.2-95, “Specification for Shotcrete,” is the deprecated version, and is no longer published (it isn’t readily available on the ACI website). Thus, the Tech Note along with the current ACI 506.2-13, “Specification for Shotcrete,” is the current industry standard for evaluating cores. An engineer may specify use of the outdated ACI 506.2-95; however, they are opening up their exposure because it isn’t the current standard. This is similar to the exposure if an engineer uses a much older version of ACI 318, and not the current one.

We have a client who wants to reline the surface of a brick drying room made from bricks and used to dry bricks. The temperature doesn’t exceed 400°F (200°C). Apart from the usual shotcrete best practice, do you recommend the addition of any additives to make the shotcrete/reinforcement more suitable for the heating and cooling cycles?2020-01-30T19:03:53+00:00

Generally, sand/cement in standard concrete mixtures starts breaking down around 400 to 500°F (200 to 260°C) because the portland cement starts to dehydrate. It loses strength with every phase and will have no strength after 1000°F (540°C). Putting it on brick depends on the shape of the brick surface. Uneven surfaces with holes will hold much better than flat brick. If the brick is flat, placing more than a couple of inches (±50 mm) may delaminate and fall off the wall without anchors of some sort. You could probably use a 2 x 2 in. (50 x 50 mm) or 3 x 3 in. (75 x 75 mm) mesh. In refractory, we consider low temperatures at 1700 to 1800°F (930 to 980°C). In the higher temperature refractory, we use calcium aluminate cement and “traprock,” which is a fine crushed limestone aggregate. The mixture ratios would be the same as a typical sand and cement gunning mixture. This is what traditionally has been for coal bunkers and coal dryers or any other sections in the 1700°F (930°C)-plus temperature range.

I am an architect and we have a client that is planning to do some major landscaping to his yard. He would like to consider shotcrete to create stone-type walls and outcroppings. Can you advise us on this? Would this be an appropriate application? Should he also just consider having a landscape company install boulders in lieu of a shotcrete-type landscape?2020-01-30T19:03:37+00:00

Shotcrete placement for a concrete wall gives the owner the advantages of concrete durability and the appearance of rock. Shotcrete has been used extensively for cre­­ating false rock faces for zoos, water parks, highways, and retaining walls. However, because shotcrete placement and carving to look like natural rock requires quite a bit of labor, the costs to do so may be more extensive than simply placing boulders.

Can we find an appropriate and easy way to evaluate the shrinkage performance of shotcrete?2020-01-30T18:59:26+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. So, standard concrete tests for shrinkage are applicable. You will find an article from Shotcrete magazine, “Shotcrete Testing—Who, Why, When, and How,” helpful. The specific section on drying shrinkage tests says:

“Drying shrinkage of the shotcrete can be tested using general provisions of ASTM C157. Because the shotcrete is shot into a large panel and not into the relatively small mold specified by ASTM for the shrinkage test beam, it is recommended that a beam approximately 11.25 in. (285 mm) in length be sawed from a test panel. As most shotcrete uses coarse aggregate less than 1 in. (25 mm), a 3 in. (75 mm) thick panel with a 3 in. (75 mm) wide cut should approximate the ASTM requirements. The A/E should specify in the contract documents drying shrinkage limits that are appropriate for the design of the structure.”

We are looking for the application of shotcrete on tidal waters. We are located on Lower Puget Sound in Washington state and need examples where this has been used and is holding up under the moving tides.2020-01-30T18:58:40+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for high-quality concrete. Here’s a link to an article of a rehabilitation of a concrete-supported lighthouse in the St. Lawrence Seaway (Pointe de la Prairie Lighthouse) that provides a lot of detail on an installation like yours, including saltwater exposure in a tidal zone. Additionally, this project also has regular freezing-and-thawing exposure (

Another project with tidal zone exposure involved repair of bridge pier pile caps on the East Coast of Florida. The article details the project parameters and testing conducted to verify the quality of the shotcrete placement (

Can we find an appropriate and easy way to evaluate the2020-01-30T18:56:59+00:00

Shotcrete compressive strength should be tested using cores from test panels. Shotcrete cannot be shot into closed cylinder forms and be representative of the in-place shotcrete. ASTM C1140-11 and C1604-05(2012) provides the panel configuration and compression testing requirements. However, if using the wet-mix process for shotcreting and one wants to verify the compressive strength, air content, or temperature of ready mixed concrete materials as delivered, rather than as shotcreted in place, samples can be taken from the truck before pumping. These cylinders would follow ASTM C31-15 for making and curing concrete test specimens.

We want to know if it’s possible to apply a 1 in. (25 mm) lift of shotcrete to a berm (2:1 slope). The berm will be treated with emulsion (oil and water) prior to the shotcrete. We are only looking for long-term erosion control. Will the emulsion be required or will it cause a bonding problem with the soil?2020-01-30T18:56:30+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. If the berm is composed of granular materials, one wouldn’t expect the shotcrete to actually bond to the soil. Rather, placing a thin shotcrete layer would create a uniform, relatively impermeable layer of concrete to prevent water from penetrating through and washing out the soil underneath. The emulsion may help to stabilize the soil to help withstand the pressure of shotcreting directly against the berm, but many similar soil stabilization projects will shotcrete directly onto the natural soils. Also, when considering using the emulsion, be aware that some oils may contain ingredients (like sulfur) that can attack the concrete over time. You should consult with an engineer or concrete materials specialist to ascertain whether the specific oil you want to use will have a long-term effect on the shotcreted layer.

I am a structural engineer and we have recently begun work with a shoring contractor. We have been designing soil nails, micropiles, soldier piles, and so on with temporary and permanent shotcrete facings. The contractor has requested that some of our future designs use chain-link mesh in lieu of welded wire mesh, particularly in temporary situations with walls under 10 ft (3 m). I understand that chain link is a cost-effective alternative and, according to the contractor, handles the shotcrete well. Do you have any experience with this type of design/installation process? Can you point me to any literature on the use of chain-link reinforcement in shotcrete walls?2020-01-30T18:56:15+00:00

Some mines have used chain link mesh in shotcrete in severely deforming ground and claim that it is better in holding the ground than mesh after large deformations, in which the shotcrete sustains major cracking with deformations. Other than for such unusual applications, we do not recommend the use of chain-link reinforcement in shotcrete. It cannot be fixed “tight” and as such is susceptible to vibration and movement during shooting, resulting in shotcrete sloughing and formation of voids in the shotcrete. Also, the mesh interconnections are conducive to the formation of voids during shooting. Additionally, there don’t appear to be any consistent material standards on the strength, flexibility, or brittleness of the steel (or other materials) used in the fencing material, so a designer has no way to establish the tensile or flexural strength of the concrete sections. In brief, don’t use chain-link mesh if you want to produce quality, durable shotcrete.

The plaster color installed in my pool was the wrong color. The plaster has been chipped out. My concern is damage to the shotcrete shell in the process. There are deep holes and gauges and there was water seepage in a few areas behind the shotcrete. There is also evidence of honeycombed areas in the shotcrete, as well as some other shotcrete concerns since reading up on the shotcrete process. Please help, as I’m being told that they will just plaster over these concerns. However, the plastering information reads that plaster thickness should not exceed 7/8 in. (22 mm) thickness (but can be a little thicker around plumbing fixtures).2020-01-30T18:55:58+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. When the pool shotcrete contractor uses quality materials, properly sized and maintained equipment, and experienced crew members, the shotcreted pool shell should be watertight. Proper shotcrete application would also not exhibit voids, honeycomb, or major seepage through the pool shell. Before replastering, the pool shell should be evaluated and all defects (voids, cracks, porous sections, deep holes, and so on) repaired using industry-standard methods and materials. You may consider retaining a professional engineer or experienced pool consultant to evaluate the pool shell and make specific recommendations on the appropriate repair for your specific issues. You can use our Buyers Guide ( to locate consultants in your area. You also may want to review our pool-specific Position Statements on our website at The “Watertight Shotcrete for Swimming Pools” would be particularly informative for you to assist in discussions with your pool contractor.

Is there a way for me to find out what the standard or appropriate repair for exposed reinforcing bar in a shotcrete swimming pool shell?2020-01-30T18:55:39+00:00

Because shotcrete is a placement method for concrete, standard concrete repair techniques are applicable. If the repair is being done by shotcreting new concrete on the existing concrete, the repair should include these steps:

  1. Chip the poor or weak concrete back to sound concrete.
  2. If reinforcing bars are exposed, they should be cleaned of any rust.
  3. If more than half of the perimeter of a reinforcing bar is exposed, the concrete should be chipped back to provide at least a 0.75 in. (19 mm) space behind the bar to allow shotcrete to flow around the back of the bar.
  4. Before shooting any additional shotcrete, the surface should be cleaned and then wetted to a saturated surface-dry condition (SSD).
  5. SSD means the substrate is damp, but there is no flowing water. It should feel damp to the touch, but no water is picked up on your hand when placing it against the surface.
  6. Do not use bonding agents, as they can interfere and reduce the bond of the new shotcrete to the old shotcrete surface.
  7. When the new shotcrete is in place, the contractor should initiate water curing as soon as possible. In warm, dry, or windy weather, fogging of the fresh surface immediately after finishing would be helpful.
  8. Water curing (where the concrete is kept continuously moist) should be supplied for at least 7 days.
Can we find an appropriate and easy way to evaluate the shrinkage performance of shotcrete?2020-01-30T18:54:18+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. So, standard concrete tests for shrinkage are applicable. You will find an article from Shotcrete magazine, “Shotcrete Testing—Who, Why, When, and How,” helpful. Here’s a link to the archived PDF of the article ( The specific section on drying shrinkage tests says:

“Drying shrinkage of the shotcrete can be tested using general provisions of ASTM C157. Because the shotcrete is shot into a large panel and not into the relatively small mold specified by ASTM for the shrinkage test beam, it is recommended that a beam approximately 11.25 in. (285 mm) in length be sawed from a test panel. As most shotcrete uses coarse aggregate less than 1 in. (25 mm), a 3 in. (75 mm) thick panel with a 3 in. (75 mm) wide cut should approximate the ASTM requirements. The A/E should specify in the contract documents drying shrinkage limits that are appropriate for the design of the structure.”

We are building an area of a park that is on an existing pier in Brooklyn, NY. We are researching using shotcrete to form contours on certain areas. Weighting of the pier is an issue. Our question is, can lightweight concrete, or cellular concrete, be used in shotcrete? If so, what are the weights?2020-01-30T18:53:26+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Lightweight concrete usually ranges from 90 to 115 lb/ft3 (1400 to 1800 kg/m3). In wet-mix shotcreting, lightweight concrete should use presoaked aggregate to make the mixture pumpable. When it’s pumpable, as with conventional concrete mixtures, it is then accelerated to a high velocity by air at the nozzle and projected onto the surface. Lightweight aggregates can also be used directly in dry-mix, and there you don’t need to worry about pumpability because the dry materials are conveyed through the delivery hose. Water is added at the nozzle.

Here’s the specific reference on lightweight from ACI 506R-16, “Guide to Shotcrete”: Lightweight aggregates—Lightweight aggregates should conform to ASTM C330/C330M if used in shotcrete. The aggregate should meet one of the gradations shown in Table 1.1.1. Wet-mix shotcrete with lightweight aggregate is seldom used and is difficult to pump because the aggregate absorbs water, which reduces the consistency of the mixture. Presaturating the lightweight aggregate before batching improves pumpability. Lightweight aggregate mixtures have been shot for wall and floor construction. Shotcrete is frequently employed for fireproofing structural steel members using lightweight aggregates in the mixture.

We suspect that cellular concrete cannot be shot because it uses injection of a pre-formed foam into a cement slurry and is highly fluid. That would preclude any stacking of material to make a vertical surface, and would instead just be pumped in place like a high slump concrete.

Can you please provide me a technical recommendation on whether or not expansion joints should be used in a large shotcrete pool that is approximately 230 ft x 135 ft (70 m x 41 m)? In my design I am calling for two expansion joints which would break the pool into three approximately 76 ft-8 in. (23 m) sections. The contractor is telling me that he typically does not use expansion joints in the pool and that they are unnecessary. I do not typically work with shotcrete and have limited pool design but given the size of the structure I would think it would be best to include expansion joints. Can you please recommend whether or not the expansion joints should be used? Any help would be greatly appreciated.2020-01-30T18:53:04+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. All normal concrete experiences drying shrinkage that creates a volume change in the hardened concrete. Pools will also experience volume change in the concrete due to thermal changes, especially summer to winter seasonal swings. Contraction and expansion joints are common in all kinds of concrete liquid-containing structures especially with walls of this length. Though we can’t provide a firm design recommendation you should consider these factors:

  • What are the weather conditions when the pool is anticipated to be built? If during hot summer months, could there be enough seasonal temperature swing to require expansion joints?
  • If expansion joints wouldn’t be needed would contraction joints be needed to handle anticipated temperature swings, and drying shrinkage?
  • Will the pool be empty for extended times (this could lead to more shrinkage or direct exposure to solar gain or cold conditions?
  • Is the pool to be kept full or empty during the winter months? (if the pool is in a geographic region where extending freezing conditions are prevalent)

Overall, the design for a shotcrete pool should be the same as one for a cast concrete pool.

I am a homeowner who is having a pool built in my backyard. The company used shotcrete last Thursday, but didn’t tell us we needed to keep it wet for the next few days. We found out on the following Monday that we should have been keeping the shotcrete wet. The 4 days that passed before we began wetting the shotcrete were very windy and hot (low 80s). The pool company is now telling us that it’s probably not a big deal that the shotcrete wasn’t kept wet for 4 days. My question is this: How has the shotcrete been compromised by not keeping it wet for 4 days? What can I expect to happen to the shotcrete (cracks?) What would you recommend as far as a fix??2020-01-30T18:52:33+00:00

ASA recommends a minimum of 7 days curing to help control shrinkage issues in young concrete sections. Lack of curing, and exposure to windy, hot or dry conditions will certainly increase the potential for shrinkage and cracking of the concrete. Lack of curing will prevent the concrete from achieving its maximum potential strength. However, shotcrete generally exceeds the minimum 4000 psi (28 MPa) 28-day compressive strength ASA recommends, and required strength depends on the pool design. If you want to confirm the compressive strength of your in-place concrete, cores taken from the pool should be tested for compressive strength by a qualified testing lab. ASTM C1604 Standard Test Method for Obtaining and Testing Drilled Cores of Shotcrete gives guidance on taking cores from existing structures. A minimum 3” diameter core is recommended. Before coring it is recommended to use ground penetrating radar (GPR) or similar equipment to identify the location of reinforcing in the pool section, and then take cores to avoid cutting through the reinforcing wherever possible. The core holes would then need to be filled with a high strength, non-shrink cementitious grout. Once you learn the actual strength, you would need to check with the pool design engineer to verify the strength is adequate for the design. If the strengths are not adequate, you should consult with the pool designer or a licensed professional engineer experienced in pool design for potential solutions.

I modified an existing pool and had a new 20 ft (6 m) wall built that was subsequently back filled. The rebar was epoxied and tied into existing pool wall/floor. The wall is 4.5 ft to 6 ft (1.3 to 1.8 m) tall. 60 days later we have two vertical hairline cracks that run top to bottom. I watered the wall properly and there are no cracks in the other sections we shot (spa, etc). We backfilled 12 days after the wall was shot with hand equipment only. The sample test taken when shooting came back at 6500 psi (4.1 MPa). The original pool bottom is below the wall and has no issues. The wall appears to be 12 to 14 in. (300 to 350 mm) thick from top to bottom. My question is if the wall was shot too thick would the lack of additional rebar cause the wall to fail? And is the necessary course of action to demo the entire wall and reinforce the rebar, then shotcrete again?2020-01-30T18:52:17+00:00

There are many variables that can cause cracking. Vertical cracking is often the result of drying shrinkage of the concrete. You said you cured (watered) the wall properly, but don’t give any specifics. ASA recommends a minimum of 7 days of curing, with a wet cure preferred over a spray-applied membrane. You should have a licensed engineer evaluate the structural sections, and determine if there were any problems with the amount or placement of reinforcing in your wall section.

What is the R-Value per inch of shotcrete?2020-01-30T18:51:58+00:00

Since shotcrete is simply a placement method for concrete, the R-value is the same as cast concrete. ACI 122R-14, “Guide to Thermal Properties of Concrete and Masonry Systems,” would be a good reference.

We have a backwash tank on a waste water treatment plant which is made by a secant wall. The lower area for this structure will receive a shotcrete liner approximately 12 ft (3.7 m) tall on average, the interior perimeter of the structure includes 104 lineal ft (32 m) of unreinforced and 440 ft (134 m) reinforced sections which are a 12 in (300 mm) minimum thickness. The drawings call for vertical control joints with waterstop approximately every 30 ft (9 m). We don’t believe the control joints are necessary and could achieve the same desired performance with one monolithic installation of the shotcrete. Are the control joints really necessary when you are installing the shotcrete against a solid secant wall which does not contain any control joints?2020-01-30T18:51:43+00:00

By control joints, we assume you mean contraction joints. Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. All normal concrete experiences drying shrinkage that creates a volume change in the hardened concrete. Though shotcrete has a lower w/cm than most form and pour concrete, it will still undergo shrinkage. In being shot on an existing concrete wall the shotcrete liner will be restrained by the bond to the substrate and the restraint of the horizontal volume change from shrinkage can create internal tensile stresses in the concrete. This is likely the reason the designer has specified contraction joints in the section. 30 ft (9 m) spacing between joints is common in new construction of concrete tanks. The question becomes whether the bond of the shotcrete to the existing substrate is high enough to restrain the volume change and prevent cracking along the hundreds of lineal feet of wall you will be lining. The thickness of the lining, the type and duration of curing, the concrete mix design, the strength of the concrete, the strength of the substrate, the quality of shotcrete application, proper surface preparation and exposure to seasonal temperature changes will impact the effect of the volume change of the lining. With the many variables we’ve pointed out you can see there isn’t a clear answer that covers all situations. We recommend you discuss your opinion with the designer or consult with a professional engineer experienced in shotcrete repairs to fully evaluate the specific structural sections you’re shotcreting.

Our company has been working on the design of a concrete pond for winery wastewater and the contractor proposed to replace the concrete liner with a geomembrane (canal 3) covered by shotcrete. Have you seen cases of this application being successful for wastewater holding? As an alternative we are considering applying the shotcrete over a clay liner. Are there any concerns or recommendations for this approach?2020-01-30T18:51:27+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Shotcrete has been successfully used for over 70 years in thousands of industrial wastewater treatment/storage tanks, as well as replacement lining of sewers and manholes. Thus, exposure of the shotcreted pond to wastewater should be as good or likely even better than the original cast concrete liner. Long term durability of the shotcreted section will be dependent on the concrete mixture design. Many contractors use supplemental cementitious materials (SCMs) like silica fume or fly ash to improve the pumping or shooting characteristics of the mix. These SCMs also help to reduce permeability, increase strength, and thus make the concrete more durable. Fly ash also has the benefit of adding some sulfate resistance that would be beneficial in wastewater exposure conditions. Shotcrete is often shot on geomembranes or directly on the subgrade soils if they are stable enough to hold the impact, and weight of the shotcrete.

We have a pool designed with the cast-in-place concrete construction method in mind. The project has been awarded to a dry-mix gunite contractor. To accommodate the contractor’s placement method, we have been working with him on the details. They are planning on casting the floor and shooting the walls. There are two main areas of concern/questions that we have. First is in regard to the air entrainment and the admixtures that are appropriate for gunite. They have not used air-entrainment admixtures prior to this project. What is the effect to durability without using air? What are the workability effects of adding air entrainment? Which product is recommended? Second, we have specified a hydrophilic waterstop between the cast-in-place floor and the wall. With the walls using a gunite application, what is the best method for preventing water infiltration in the construction joint? Does it hurt the integrity of the joint by installing a hydrophilic waterstop? If the water stop is omitted, what does the surface roughness need to be to provide a monolithic-type connection?2020-01-30T18:51:06+00:00

Air entrainment will generally slightly reduce the compressive strength of concrete, but significantly increase the resistance to freezing-and-thawing exposure. Dry-mix shotcrete (gunite) is generally a very paste-rich mixture. With modern cements, the normal 28-day compressive strengths easily exceed commonly specified compressive strengths. ASA recommends a minimum of 4000 psi (28 MPa) for shotcrete, and 4000 psi to 5000 psi (28 to 34 MPa) strengths are routinely specified.

  1. Air entrainment increases the workability. The small air bubbles act as a form of lubricant to ease internal friction between the concrete mixture components.
  2. You should contact one of our material supplier members to see what they offer. You can use our Buyers Guide at, and limit your search to “Admixture Sales” with the “Air-Entraining” subcategory.
  3. Quality shotcrete shot against a properly prepared concrete substrate should produce a watertight interface. The hydrophilic waterstop at the joint could be considered a secondary method of making the joint watertight. Though not necessary, it is kind of a “belt and suspenders” approach with a relatively low cost to place.
  4. In shotcrete construction, surface preparation between layers to provide full bond is important. ACI 506.2-13, “Specification for Shotcrete,” specifically addresses this in the requirements of Sections and that state:

“ When applying more than one layer of shotcrete, use a cutting rod, brush with a stiff bristle, or other suitable equipment to remove all loose material, overspray, laitance, or other material that may compromise the bond of the subsequent layer of shotcrete. Conduct removal immediately after shotcrete reaches initial set.
“ Allow shotcrete to stiffen sufficiently before applying subsequent layers. If shotcrete has hardened, clean the surface of all loose material, laitance, overspray, or other material that may compromise the bond of subsequent layers. Bring the surface to a saturated surface-dry condition at the time of application of the next layer of shotcrete.”

For more details on bond between shotcrete layers, you may want to refer to an article in the Spring 2014 issue of Shotcrete magazine, “Shotcrete Placed in Multiple Layers does NOT Create Cold Joints.” A PDF of the article can be found at

I had a concrete pool shell installed using gunite (dry shotcrete method) in July 2013. It was never finished due to unfortunate circumstances and has been exposed to the elements of weather over the last 2 years, mostly filled up with water from rain and, in the colder months, frozen like a pond. We would like to finish the pool but were told by the pool company that the concrete looked odd and we should have it strength tested. We had core samples taken from the walls and floor from a certified testing lab. The results from the six samples ranged from 1700 to 2200 psi (12 to15 MPa). When the pool was blown on July 3, 2013, it was to achieve 4000 psi (28 MPa) compressive strength in 28 days. Is it normal for the shotcrete strength to have weakened so much?2020-01-30T18:50:37+00:00

Properly produced concrete material shotcreted in place should gain strength over time, not lose strength. ASA recommends that concrete placed by the shotcrete method have a minimum compressive strength at 28 days of 4000 psi (28 MPa). Coring does damage the sample somewhat, so it is common to require core strength to meet 85% of the specified compressive strength. Cores should be no less than a nominal 3 in. (76 mm) in diameter for representative results because smaller cores (less than 3 in. [76 mm] diameter) are more subject to damage from the core extraction, affecting the reported strength. Thus, at 85% of 4000 psi (28 MPa) the minimum should be 3400 psi (23 MPa). Based on the reported values, and assuming a 3 in. (76 mm) diameter or greater core, the concrete strength is well below ASA’s recommended strength, and the strength you originally specified in 2013.

I am currently involved with the design of an unreinforced masonry building retrofit. Could you point me toward resources concerning the seismic behavior of a reinforced shotcrete masonry wall? I am interested in learning more about the force (shear) transfer between the masonry/shotcrete interfaces.2020-01-30T18:50:11+00:00

Shotcrete is a placement method for concrete. Thus, seismic design for concrete is applicable to shotcrete placement. Here’s a link to an article in the Winter 2009 issue of Shotcrete magazine, titled “Seismic Retrofit of Historic Wing Sang Building,” that details the seismic retrofit of a brick building in Vancouver, BC, Canada:

A second article from 1999, “Seismic Reinforcing of Masonry Walls with Shotcrete,” also gives some input on the design: In general, the structural engineer must evaluate the condition of the existing masonry structure and determine whether the added shotcrete sections will be supplementing the existing capacity or providing the full resistance to seismic loads.

Our shotcrete mixture needs to be NSF 61 certified. We have been able to obtain certification of all components with the exception of reinforced fiber. Is there or does fiber reinforcing need NSF 61 approval?2020-01-30T18:25:24+00:00

Each manufacturer of concrete constituents needs to have their products tested by NSF if they want NSF 61 certification. Whether the fibers need NSF 61 certification is an issue with the local authority having jurisdiction for exposure of components to potable water supply systems in your state. Generally, this is the state EPA-type agency, but maybe a federal agency if on a federal project.

We don’t maintain a database of manufacturer products that meet NSF 61. However, you can readily identify contacts for the fiber manufacturers who are ASA corporate members with our Buyers Guide at When entering the Buyers Guide, you can select “Fiber + Reinforcement Sales” and the fiber type subcategory to get a list of our member fiber suppliers.

I just had a swimming pool built and everything I have read online says that the gunite shell has to be sprinkled with water for several days after the pour. My pool builder says they never do it, and, when I asked why, I’m just told that’s the way they do it. I told them I am worried because every other pool builder says to do that except the one I hired and I can get no answer as to why. Is this an acceptable practice? I am worried that years down the line I may have a problem. I live in Oviedo, FL, and the weather has been in the low 70s and the humidity not particularly high. They did hit the water table and have a pump running—would any of this have an impact?2020-01-30T18:24:59+00:00

ASA recommends a minimum of 7 days curing for all exposed shotcrete surfaces. Wet curing is preferred to supply additional water to the concrete surface. If a spray-on curing membrane is used instead of water curing, the material should be applied at twice the manufacturer’s recommended rate for formed surfaces. Curing is important to allow the concrete to develop as much strength as possible and to help resist cracking from internal shrinkage of the concrete. Low humidity, wind, and exposure to sun will increase the need for proper curing. If the site is dewatered, the groundwater is below the concrete work, and not effective in curing the exposed shotcrete surface. The American Concrete Institute (ACI) has an excellent reference, ACI 308R-01, “Guide to Curing Concrete.” It appears your contractor is not following the industry standards as documented by ACI.

Why is shotcrete not applied to general housing? It could be applied against outer insulation reinforced panels, forming both pillars and walls at the same time. Higher cost of shotcrete should be more than compensated by much shorter time and lower need of cranes.2020-01-30T18:24:32+00:00

Shotcrete has been used for residential concrete construction, often for domed or other curved shapes. It has also been used to provide a structural skin over internal insulation panels in more rectangular layouts. Since shotcrete is concrete projected at high speed (between 60 and 80 mph [97 to 129 km/h]) many insulation products do not withstand the impact and abrasion associated with shotcrete impact. In many cases when shooting over an insulating foam panel that cannot withstand the high velocity impact, shotcrete isn’t used, but a low-velocity plaster/grout mix is spray applied over the insulation. Here’s a link to the PCA website with a page on residential housing using a foam inner panel: You can also find similar system information doing a web search for “shotcrete foam panel.”

We have an existing cut slope approximately 328 ft (100 m) high (3:1 vertical:horizontal) with cut benches and need to apply shotcrete onto the slope surface at a height of approximately 230 ft (70 m) from the road level. Is it possible to reasonably transfer and apply shotcrete mixture at such a height from the road level? What type of transfer hoses and equipment is preferable? Is dry-mix or wet-mix shotcrete preferable?2020-01-29T16:28:38+00:00

Yes, either dry-mix or wet-mix process can and have been used at this height. Because either process can be used in these conditions, you should use an experienced shotcrete contractor who will pick the best method based on their firm’s shotcrete capabilities. Factors such as the shotcrete contractor’s specific shotcrete equipment, material availability, site constraints, remoteness of the location, and crew experience will influence their choice.

I would like to know if there is any parameter for test panel dimensions and inclination of proposed shotcrete surfaces represented by the test panels. I also would like to know if there is any specification for frequency of making test panels during the shotcrete project duration. In general, what is the specified type of panels and number of them to be specified and to what time frequency should a contractor assemble them for quality control purposes?2020-01-29T16:28:20+00:00

ACI 506.2-13, “Specification for Shotcrete,” is an excellent resource for answering your questions. ACI 506.2 addresses both preconstruction panels and test panels used for material quality control during construction. ACI 506.2, Section, requires that when preconstruction panels are required, the Contractor shall “Construct test panels for each proposed shotcrete mixture, each anticipated orientation, and each proposed nozzleman.” Preconstruction test panels vary in size to adequately represent the embedded reinforcement and section thicknesses in the work to be done.

Test panels shot during construction for evaluation of material properties are covered in ACI 506.2, Section, which states: “Construct a test panel for each mixture, each nozzleman, and each work day or for every 50 yd3 (38 m3) placed—whichever results in the most panels. The face dimensions of a test panel shall be a minimum of 16 x 16 in. (406 x 406 mm) with a minimum depth of 5 in. (127 mm). For toughness testing in accordance with ASTM C1550, the face dimension shall be 30.5 in. (775 mm) in diameter and 3 in. (76 mm) thick. Shoot test panels in a vertical orientation only unless otherwise specified.”

ACI 506.2-13 has extensive provisions for the submittals, testing, materials, and execution of shotcrete work by a shotcrete contractor. It cites many of the ASTM testing standards appropriate for shotcrete construction. We recommend you review the document in its entirety to become familiar with current industry standards.

We have 18 ft high, 12 in. thick (5.5 m high, 205 mm thick) walls to shotcrete and need horizontal cold joints to place the shotcrete in three pours (three height sections). How do we create the joint?2020-01-29T16:28:00+00:00

Shotcrete is routinely used in creating retaining walls or soil-nailed walls in this fashion. Designers and inspectors often confuse placement of multiple layers of shotcrete in building out a section with cold joints experienced in cast-in-place concrete construction. Unlike cast-in-place concrete, shotcrete provides thorough consolidation and densification by high-velocity impact of fresh concrete material on the receiving surface. The high-velocity impact of shotcrete on a hardened, previous shot layer (or existing concrete surface) provides a strong abrasive blast to open up the surface, and then provides an immediate exposure of that hardened surface to fresh cement paste. As a result, shotcrete exhibits excellent bond to concrete and previously shot surfaces. Thus, the structural action between the sections acts as a monolithic section without any weakened planes.

In shotcrete construction, surface preparation between layers to provide full bond is important. ACI 506.2-13, “Specification for Shotcrete,” specifically addresses this in the requirements of Section and that require: When applying more than one layer of shotcrete, use a cutting rod, brush with a stiff bristle, or other suitable equipment to remove all loose material, overspray, laitance, or other material that may compromise the bond of the subsequent layer of shotcrete. Conduct removal immediately after shotcrete reaches initial set. Allow shotcrete to stiffen sufficiently before applying subsequent layers. If shotcrete has hardened, clean the surface of all loose material, laitance, overspray, or other material that may compromise the bond of subsequent layers. Bring the surface to a saturated surface-dry condition at the time of application of the next layer of shotcrete.

An experienced shotcrete contractor should routinely provide proper surface preparation between shotcreted sections, and use skilled crews with ACI certified nozzlemen to place and cure the shotcrete placements.

We have a concrete tunnel repair project, where expansion joints in a 10 x 10 ft (3 x 3 m) tunnel need to be repaired. The joints are on the top, bottom, and both sides of the tunnel; therefore, we have vertical and overhead applications. The detail calls for deteriorated concrete to be removed to a depth of about 6 in. (152 mm), existing reinforcing steel to be cleaned and preserved, and old waterstop removed and new PVC waterstop installed. How far can shotcrete be pumped for an application in a tunnel? We are looking at about 200 ft (61 m) for the shotcrete to be pumped from the supply to the repairs. Is this constructible?2020-01-29T16:27:37+00:00

Yes, this is definitely a great application for shotcrete. Either wet- or dry-mix shotcrete can easily be used in tunnels with hose lengths of 200 ft (61 m). An experienced shotcrete contractor will be able to select the appropriate process based on the site, availability of material, and their particular equipment and trained shotcrete crews.

Is there a reference where I can obtain some guide regarding the tensile strength of fiber-reinforced shotcrete (steel and poly)?2020-01-29T16:27:18+00:00

ACI 506.1R-08, “Guide to Fiber-Reinforced Shotcrete,” is a good reference for general use of fibers in shotcrete. If looking at underground applications for shotcrete, ACI 506.5R-09, “Guide to Specifying Underground Shotcrete,” will also offer guidance. The ACI 506 documents are available in hard copy format on our bookstore website with ASA member discounts (
Because shotcrete is a method for placing concrete, many, if not most, of the properties of fiber-reinforced concrete, as found in ACI 544 committee documents, are applicable to shotcrete.

I have a very small job to do that would normally be handled by a gunite or sprayed-on application. I need to form the inside of a concrete box into a cylindrical shape. I would like to get a few hints or suggestions on how I might accomplish the “gunite” solution using my hands/tools only. Does this require a special mix of the mortar mixture?2020-01-29T16:26:50+00:00

Shotcrete is concrete placed at high velocity to achieve compaction. It is dependent on the projection of material with air velocity of 60 to 80 mph (97 to 129 km/h) from the nozzle to consolidate the concrete material in place. It cannot be hand-applied. You may consider hand-applied pre-packaged mortar mixtures to achieve your results, although strength and durability may be less than a similar section with shotcrete because the hand-applied material is not fully compacted. Another alternative is to create an inner cylinder and cast concrete in the space between the box and the form. The concrete could then be vibrated for consolidation.

We are planning on placing shotcrete over rock face and are concerned about water seeping out of the rock and forming ice behind the shotcrete. Could you please offer some insight?2020-01-29T16:26:09+00:00

Shotcrete is a functionally impermeable material when properly designed and placed. Thus, if water accumulates between the rock substrate and shotcrete, depending on temperatures and thickness of the shotcrete, it may freeze. As with all concrete, shotcrete material can be air-entrained to enhance resistance to freezing-and-thawing exposure. You should consult with an experienced engineer to determine whether the type of rock, geometry of the sections, and anchoring of the shotcrete (such as with soil nails or rock bolts), along with the bond of shotcrete to the rock, will provide the desired performance.

What is the standard materials delivery rate velocity for shotcrete applications?2020-03-03T15:50:20+00:00

Recent research into velocity of the material stream shot from the nozzle is approximately 60 to 80 mph (97 to 129 km/h) in the middle of the stream. Outer portions of the stream are slowed and show speeds of about 45 mph (72 km/h). Here’s a link to the Technical Tip published in the Fall 2013 Shotcrete magazine that provides more complete documentation of the research:

I’ve been testing shotcrete cores for compression strength according to ACI 506, ASTM C1604, and ASTM C1385. The only thing that we have been doing out of specifications is the panel. Our panels are 18 x 18 in. (457 x 457 mm). We have been coring at the center of the panel 2 days after it has been cast. We test these cores at 7 and 28 days, and the strength of cores reflects passing at 7 days but failing at 28 days. Can you please tell me what could be the cause of this?2020-01-29T16:23:27+00:00

ASTM C1140/C1140M-11, “Standard Practice for Preparing and Testing Specimens from Shotcrete Test Panels,” is the appropriate ASTM standard for producing and coring test panels. ASTM C1140 specifies panel size as a minimum of 24 x 24 in. (610 x 610 mm) with a minimum 3.5 in. (89 mm) depth. Without more information on the materials used in the shotcrete and the type of shotcrete, it is impossible to identify what may be causing the lower compressive strength tests.
The compressive strength should increase between 7 and 28 days on a curve equivalent to cast concrete. Strength degradation between 7 and 28 days may be a result of poor shotcrete application or problems with coring or curing of the samples.

We have a school project in California. It is for a structure with shotcrete walls and a shotcrete dome roof shot with an inflatable form. There is disagreement on the nozzlemen qualification panels. One group says that a panel should be shot for each nozzleman for each position (three panels: one vertical, and two for different slopes of the dome) in a single layer with the most congested reinforcing bar in any single layer to simulate job conditions. A second group maintains that the same three panels should be shot, but they should be built up over a period of 6 days in gradual layers to represent the layering of the actual shooting. I think that the first group is correct and complies with the intent of ACI 506. Shooting one-layer panels with the most congested reinforcing bar to be placed in any one layer would best simulate the job placement conditions. I don’t see any added advantage in shooting qualification panels over a period of days in layers and seems to be reading too much into “simulating” jobsite conditions.2020-01-29T16:22:55+00:00

In construction of shotcrete dome roofs with inflatable forms, the structural thickness of the dome is built out in layers to prevent overloading the support offered by the inflatable form and foam. Thus, your nozzleman qualification panels should be representative of the dome construction methods. This would include shooting orientation (vertical and varying slopes), shooting procedures (layers), and with the most congested reinforcing. When shotcrete is applied in layers, all you need to do is wait for the first layer to stiffen sufficiently (usually called initial set), before applying the next layer. It is not necessary to wait for days before applying the next lift.

We are considering sealing off the openings of some existing water tunnels by constructing reinforced concrete walls within the openings. One wall, for instance, is 9.25 ft wide by 12 ft high (3 x 4 m) and is to be 22 in. (559 mm) thick. Other walls will be in the range of 18 to 26 in. (457 to 660 mm) thick. What are the limits as to the maximum thickness/size wall that shotcrete can be used to construct? Also, I noticed that in the latest revision of ACI 506R-05 that the previous recommended limits on the reinforcing bar size have been removed. I believe in the past, the reinforcing bars were limited to the smaller-size bars to reduce the development of sand pockets behind the bars. Is there a recommended limit on the size bars that can be used? Perhaps it was in the ACI standard but I just overlooked it.2020-01-29T16:22:36+00:00

Experienced shotcrete contractors with qualified crews have often shot structural concrete sections 24 to 30 in. (610 to 762 mm) thick with reinforcing bars up to No. 11 in size. There is no real limit to how thick you can build a shotcrete “wall.” Though earlier versions of ACI 506R, “Guide to Shotcrete,” did recommend limiting reinforcing bars sizes, modern equipment, concrete mixtures, and shooting techniques have proven that large-diameter steel reinforcing bars can be properly encased on a routine basis by experienced shotcrete crews. Thus, ACI 506R was updated to reflect the successful industry practice.

There is a pre-stabilized steep slope (nailing is used along with shotcrete). The client wishes to benefit from the maximum achievable area in plan and is asking for excavation of the stabilized slope to shift back the wall face around a few meters. The new stabilization plan shall include a safe gradual excavation of the existing wall from top to bottom along with the destruction of the existing shotcrete face, reinforcement, and the installed nails. What is the most common destruction method for the existing shotcrete? At the same time, I think pulling out the nails using hydraulic jacks would be applicable.2020-01-29T16:21:48+00:00

The existing shotcrete can be removed by many methods, such as using a Hoe-Ram. The existing soil nails could be removed as suggested or left in place and trimmed back to some distance behind the new plane. We would assume that this work would be done from the top down installing new soil nails and shotcrete facing in lifts of approximately 4 to 5 ft (1.2 to 1.5 m).

Is it possible to apply shotcrete on glass? Can shotcrete or concrete bond with glass? If it is an issue due to the smooth surface properties of glass, will sandblasting help? We have made test holes and it is adhered very well, except where moisture penetration through the parapet has compromised adhesion. This is installed with five layers approximately 1 in. (25 mm) thick. We are considering leaving the material in place, patching as required, and removing the existing nonpermeable paints (which are peeling). Our thought is to coat the surface with a variegated colored stain, allowing for permeability of vapor. Can the material be patched as necessary? What is the recommended finish? Do we need to be concerned that the material could permit water penetration? Are there certified contractors in the Cleveland, OH, area?2020-01-29T16:21:27+00:00

We are not aware of any specific applications of shotcrete to glass. The glass would have to be tough or strong enough to withstand the sprayed application. We have seen shotcrete stick to smooth surfaces like glass and glossy paint, but have not seen any data on the bond. In general terms, better bond is achieved with roughened surfaces so sandblasting the glass would likely improve the bond.

We are proposing a vertical support of excavation structure using reinforced shotcrete to retain a 10 ft (3 m) high sandy soil. What are the design criteria to choose the reinforcement and the thickness of the shotcrete? Also, what is the minimum reinforcement and shotcrete thickness you would recommend?2020-01-29T16:19:09+00:00

FThe shoring design should be done by a competent licensed professional engineer who specializes in earth retention systems. This is not a question that can properly be answered by ASA. You can search for such a professional in our Buyers Guide section of the ASA website Another resource is the FHWA Manual for Design and Construction of Soil Nail Walls.

I recently hired a pool contractor to build a residential pool. The contractor has been in business for more than 30 years and has a great reputation. The progress so far is that the pool has been installed using shotcrete. The shotcrete has been curing for the last 9 days. Within the last 9 days, it has rained heavily twice. On the second rainy day, immediately after the rain finished, I walked outside to see the amount of water that had collected inside the pool. I noticed that the water was muddy looking. Upon closer inspection, as the rest of the pool was dry, except for the deep end, there were two trails of water coming from the shallow end and running into the pool of water in the deep end. After getting down into the pool, I noticed that these trails of water were from water bubbling up through the shotcrete floor on the slope closer to the shallow end. The bubbling was like a small stream of water coming up out of the shotcrete in two places. I suppose it is from the hydrostatic pressure from the groundwater under the concrete? My question is should this be concerning? The plaster has not been installed. How should these holes be filled? The holes certainly do not look like they were intentional, as you can’t really even see them, except for the water coming out of them. Is there a problem with the shotcrete installation? Does this mean that my pool will leak when it is filled with water? I would image that if water can come up through the shotcrete, the water can also go down through the shotcrete, resulting in erosion of the soil under the pool? Before the shotcrete was installed, there was no groundwater present and the dirt was dry. (Referenced images can be found here)2020-01-29T16:18:50+00:00

It is difficult to make an assessment of a situation like this with a few photos and the description given. Based on your statement that the contractor has an excellent 30-year reputation, we’d suggest you discuss these concerns with the contractor. If his response does not give you a full explanation, we suggest you engage an independent professional familiar with shotcrete installations and swimming pools to give you an opinion. You can use ASA’s Buyers Guide at to find a consultant.
There certainly is reason to question the quality of the installation based on the description. However, it is not unusual for the pool shell contractor to leave a temporary opening in the shell to relive potential groundwater pressure and prevent floating of the empty pool shell. These holes are, or should be done, in a professional manner to allow complete watertight sealing when filled. In some cases, the openings may include a pressure relief valve.

I am an architect working on a project in which a masonry building was “coated” with a shotcrete or gunite material. It is reported that this was troweled on approximately 20 years ago. We have made test holes and it is adhered very well, except where moisture penetration through the parapet has compromised adhesion. This is installed with five layers approximately 1 in. (25 mm) thick. We are considering leaving the material in place, patching as required, and removing the existing nonpermeable paints (which are peeling). Our thought is to coat the surface with a variegated colored stain, allowing for permeability of vapor. Can the material be patched as necessary? What is the recommended finish? Do we need to be concerned that the material could permit water penetration? Are there certified contractors in the Cleveland, OH, area?2020-01-29T16:18:26+00:00

From what you have described, the original work may have been done by the shotcrete process or hand-applied. Typically in the shotcrete process, over a large area at the thickness of 5 in. (127 mm), you would expect to see reinforcing mesh or reinforcing bars.
The material can be patched. If the areas are small, it may be prudent to hand patch. Shotcrete is most effective in larger applications. It is important to select a good repair mortar or mixture design.
ASA does not have a recommended finish. Generally in this type of application, the goal would be to match the existing surfaces as close as reasonably possible.
Many patches are done on bridges and other structures without regard to water penetration.
We do not have certified contractors; however, many of our corporate contractor members have ACI Certified Nozzlemen on their teams and the Buyers Guide on the ASA website can be searched by location and specialty. Also on our website, we have a position paper on “Shotcrete Contractor and Crew Qualifications” with a handy checklist summary that would be useful in qualifying potential contractors for your project.

We are looking at constructing climbing boulders made with shotcrete and using a polystyrene core. Does the polystyrene need to be covered with a protective membrane to protect it during the spraying process? Also, could the polystyrene contribute to the structural integrity of the boulders, or should it just be used as a void-forming material?2020-01-29T16:17:14+00:00

Polystyrene is available in various densities and the denser the product, the less likely that the shotcrete process will cause any damage to it. The question of the structural value of the polystyrene needs to be addressed by a competent structural engineer. It is not something that we, as a shotcrete association, feel qualified to comment on.

Can Pozzutec 20+ (or any other accelerating admixture) be used with a dry-mix shotcrete? If so, has it been used on any large-scale projects?2020-01-29T16:16:42+00:00

Pozzutec 20+ is intended for use in ready mixed concrete. Although it may work with dry-mix shotcrete, there are other products that are designed for use in the wet and dry shotcrete processes.

We have a project in the Los Angeles, CA, area that we have designed as poured-in-place concrete. The contractor would like to shotcrete all basement walls. However, we have columns that are integrated with the wall. A City of Los Angeles technical bulletin does not address shotcrete columns in a wall where the bar spacing varies from the wall. Do you have any experience with this issue and is there a way to shotcrete both the wall and the column?2020-01-29T16:16:24+00:00

There have been many prior projects in the city of Los Angeles where columns and pilasters are incorporated into perimeter basement walls. This would likely require a preconstruction mockup panel and might require a waiver from the City Engineering Department. It is extremely important to ensure that the work is done by a qualified and experienced shotcrete specialty contractor who has documented experience doing similar work.

I am currently working on a project that involves repairing the concrete walls of a sanitary sewer interceptor structure and line pipe and was wondering if you had any reference information regarding shotcrete being used to repair similar items and how well it has held up. Any information you send will be greatly appreciated.2020-01-29T16:15:40+00:00

Shotcrete, both wet- and dry-mix, have been used to repair and reline sewer structures for many decades and has held up well as a lining or repair material. It is important to have the work done by a qualified shotcrete specialty contractor and to specify a durable concrete mixture design. The following are links to articles which may also be of interest to you:

We’re proposing to install a new shotcrete shear wall against existing 8 in. (203 mm) CMU walls for a project of ours. STRUCTURAL has provided a steel reinforcement cage across each wall plane, which is tied to the existing CMU wall with a series of anchors running horizontally and vertically. Between this new shotcrete wall and existing CMU wall, we are calling for a vapor barrier layer to retard moisture migration from the exterior to the interior. At this point, we are considering going with a PROSOCO Cat-5 fluid-applied vapor barrier system over the CMU but were curious how this might interface with the shotcrete. Have you dealt with this vapor barrier issue before, or seen similar installations? Would the steel reinforcing cage be adequate to support the shotcrete by itself during application, or should we be concerned about the surface of the backup wall?2020-01-29T16:14:52+00:00

Shotcrete has been placed against fluid-applied waterproofing and other smooth surfaces, which would likely be similar to the surface you are concerned with. An experienced shotcrete contractor should be able to install this shear wall, taking care to apply the shotcrete in a sequence which inhibits the material from sagging or sloughing. The key is hiring a good, well-experienced shotcrete contractor.
The reinforcing bar size and spacing can help provide support for building up the shotcrete. The spacing should be no greater than 12 in. (305 mm) on center each way and must be rigid.

We are the Architects of Record for a multi-family rehabilitation here in Portland, OR. The existing building is three stories plus a half basement. It is a historic building and is also an unreinforced masonry building. As a result, it requires significant seismic upgrades. Our structural engineer is proceeding with a design that uses several 4 in. (102 mm) thick shotcrete walls as shear elements throughout the building. In most instances, these walls are being constructed adjacent to an existing wall to minimize their impact to the existing floor plans. This seems fine against the exterior masonry walls but we have concerns where the shotcrete is to be installed directly adjacent to a standard architectural partition (gypsum wall board and wood studs). We are planning on plywood sheathing to act as a one-sided form to prevent the shotcrete application from harming the existing stud wall. However, we were curious if we should also include a water barrier so that the application did not allow moisture to migrate into the existing walls during the installation. Is this assumption correct? And if so, is there a performance or product recommendation that you can offer for this purpose?2020-01-29T16:14:16+00:00

Shotcrete has been used in similar structural upgrades for decades quite successfully. There are many ways to ensure that the moisture from the fresh shotcrete would not impact the existing partitions. Methods for protection include use of green board (as used in a shower or bath), plywood, painted coatings, moisture-resistant sheeting, and so on.
Shotcrete is placed with a low water-cement ratio (w/c) and the water is needed by the shotcrete to hydrate the cement and harden. As long as the existing surface or treated surface does not actively absorb the moisture, the shotcrete will use the available internal moisture to hydrate the cementitious materials.

I am involved with an above-grade canal replacement project that used shotcrete. The forms were recently pulled from one of the vertical walls, and extensive defects were visible throughout the wall length. Reinforcing bar shadowing occurred at nearly every vertical bar as well as numerous void pockets of various depths (some even up to 3 in. [76 mm]). Demolishing and replacing the wall is not a viable option. I am responsible for developing repair recommendations to the client and would like to know if there are any standards for shotcrete tolerances, specifically in regards to defects. I am going to specify that a repair mortar be used for repairing the defects and would appreciate any insight into this, as well as any wisdom that could be offered in dealing with reinforcing bar shadowing.2020-01-29T16:13:54+00:00

This seems to be two questions:
1. The repairs should be accomplished as recommended in ICRI Technical Guidelines: the area to be repaired should be chipped out to sound concrete, sand­blasted or waterblasted to remove any bruised material, dampened to a saturated surface-dry condition, and patched with a reputable and known repair mortar.
2. ACI 506 defines “shadow” as any porous areas behind an obstacle, such as reinforcement. Proper shotcrete application by an experienced nozzleman with adequate equipment and crew will create shotcrete sections that have minimal shadowing and voids. However, sometimes upon stripping of the backside forms there is a noticeably darker coloration of the concrete surface immediately behind reinforcing bars. This darker coloration often does not have porous areas, but is an indication that the reinforcing bar is close to the form and, although good, dense material has been placed, it has a slightly higher cement paste content and thus appears darker on the surface. Sounding the area of discoloration should identify any porous areas that should be repaired, as mentioned previously.
It should be noted that this is not unique to shotcrete. Cast concrete that is not properly placed and fully consolidated often exhibits voids and rock pockets that need to be repaired upon stripping of the forms.

Would epoxy-coated reinforcing bar be required for a shotcrete site retaining wall that does not have waterproofing behind it?2020-01-29T16:13:37+00:00

Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete and the properties of properly placed shotcrete are equal to those of cast concrete. We have seldom seen the use of epoxy-coated reinforcing bar in retaining walls with or without waterproofing. (The California Department of Transportation builds many retaining walls with cast concrete and with shotcrete and seldom uses epoxy-coated reinforcing bar or waterproofing.)
It is important that you use a contractor qualified and experienced in this type of work and who uses ACI Certified Nozzlemen and a qualified crew.

I am building a perimeter overflow pool and need to know the best way to finish the trough. I have one shotcrete company that wants to hand-finish the 6 in. (152 mm) wide trough; another wants to shoot up to foam. Can you tell me which is best and why?2020-01-29T16:13:16+00:00

This is a classic performance-versus-prescription situation. The owner or customer should specify the desired end product and the contractor should choose the means and methods. Although they may both provide a great product, what works for one contractor or what he/she is comfortable doing may be completely different than another contractor.

We’re designing two steel stacks to be located in Texas and subject to hurricane winds. The diameters are 9.19 and 4.92 ft (3 and 1.5 m), respectively. Both stacks are 118 ft (36 m) high. To reduce the vortex shredding oscillation effects, we want to increase the mass of the stacks by means of internal gunite lining. Our calculation provides good results considering approximately 2 in. (51 mm) thick interior liner. For this scope, is it better to consider external or internal lining? Would there be any advantage to applying an external liner with respect to the interior solution? Which of these two is the most cost-effective solution?2020-01-29T16:12:57+00:00

Shotcrete would work well either for the stack exterior or as an interior lining. The 2 in. (51 mm) thickness could be easily applied on either the outside or inside surfaces.
For the 9 ft (3 m) diameter stack, it would be easier and more cost-effective to scaffold and gun the inside of the stack. The work could be done with less difficulty, from an interior hanging platform suspended with sky climbers. There would be less cost involved with rigging than there would be with scaf­­folding or rigging around the outside circumference of the stack.
For the 4.92 ft (1.5 m) diameter stack, there is much less room to work inside, so unfortunately it may need to be gunned on the outside.

I am lowering the roof of the draft tube on a hydropower dam. The work is all overhead and has a slope to it. The new roof profile will be lowered from 2 in. (51 mm) (initial edge) to 6.25 ft (approximately 2 m) thick. The plan is to use rock anchors to transfer the load to the existing concrete, and tie in a reinforcing bar grid at the lower section of the new roof profile (4 in. [102 mm] cover). Shotcrete is being planned for the infill material. The traditional ACI 318 design method was used for sizing reinforcing bar. The concern I have in the design is the application of the shotcrete. The plan is to allow the contractor to install a wire mat (or reinforcing bar mat) approximately 2 in. (51 mm) from the existing concrete roof, then apply shotcrete until reaching the reinforcing bar location, up to 6 ft (1.8 m) thick, then apply the finish layers. I have concerns about how thick shotcrete can be applied overhead. I have received feedback from some shotcrete companies that one can apply up to 4 ft (1.2 m) thick overhead layers, yet others say to never apply more than 4 in. (100 mm) layers. I also have concerns of delamination between the shotcrete and the existing concrete during the installation process, and potential shotcrete falling under its own weight in the thicker locations. Do you know of any situation where shotcrete was installed overhead to thicknesses of 6 ft (1.8 m)? How thick can the shotcrete be before additional reinforcement is required to hold it for overhead applications? Is there a recommended maximum thickness for overhead application of shotcrete being placed before additional reinforcement is required? For the area that is 6.25 ft (2 m) thick, should I be using multiple layers of reinforcement (or fiber reinforcement) to prevent fallout?2020-01-29T16:12:25+00:00

This is a very challenging potential installation and there could be several potential approaches. For the shotcrete to bond to the existing concrete, the existing surface should be properly prepared, removing any unsound concrete, then roughened and cleaned to allow for a good bonding interface. You mentioned using rock anchors or bolts. These should be installed before any shotcrete.
For each 6 in. (152 mm) layer, a layer of welded wire reinforcement or structural fibers should be used. These, in conjunction with the rock bolts, should ensure the stability of each layer of the shotcrete from falling.
The surface reinforcement should not be installed before most of the area is within 6 to 8 in. (152 to 203 mm) of the final surface.
There is currently similar thicknesses being placed on the East Side Access in New York City to build back the overbreak for the initial tunneling to the “A-line” or profile that was intended for the mining.

We are an architectural design firm that specifies extensive amounts of shotcrete to mimic rockwork in our designs for large-scale animal exhibits. We often encounter differing views on the need for galvanized or coated reinforcing bar in our shotcrete work, especially when they are used as pool lining walls containing salt water. Can you tell us your opinion on whether galvanizing or coating of reinforcing bar is necessary if both integral and surface waterproofing are specified?2020-01-29T16:12:00+00:00

Shotcrete is a process of placing concrete. The need to use galvanized or any other type of reinforcing is, or should be, based on the needs of the project and the preference of the structural design engineer. For liquid-containing concrete structures, the designer may review ACI 350-06, “Code Requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures,” which has specific concrete material, cover, and reinforcing requirements for concrete exposed to a variety of chemical and saltwater exposures. (The aforementioned ACI Committee 350 publication may be purchased from the American Concrete Institute at”.)

How soon after a surface is shotcreted can it be submerged with stream water? What if the water has no velocity?2020-01-29T15:56:51+00:00

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.

I am considering using shotcrete for lining stormwater 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.2020-03-03T17:52:50+00:00

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 PCA’s website.

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 after 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?2020-01-29T15:56:02+00:00

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 prewetting 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.

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?2020-01-29T15:55:44+00:00

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 Nozzlemen 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 work.

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 to shotcrete the walls and gutter. 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 bar—will this have much strength?2020-01-29T15:55:16+00:00

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 (ICRI).

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 soundproofing wall systems with varied results. 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?2020-01-29T15:33:34+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-29T15:33:10+00:00

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.

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 shotcrete facing for the entire cut area. 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 software programs. Significant portions of the exposed cut face, however, consist of nondurable bedrock (claystone). We want to stabilize this area with shotcrete to prevent weathering and the generation of overhang conditions where the claystone is overlain by a more durable sandstone. 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.?2020-01-29T15:32:47+00:00

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 claystone. 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.

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 or taped up the sides of the crawlspace. 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?2020-01-29T15:32:25+00:00

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 “ratproofing.” 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.

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 often 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 often talks about roughness achieved by shotblasting and the surfaces getting to various degrees between CSP-1 to CSP-9. Is there a criteria/guideline/rating system, or something similar with shotcrete? Here is the link to some such guidelines.2020-01-29T15:31:59+00:00

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.”

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 shoot the remaining concrete cover. 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 bar’s 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.2020-01-29T15:31:31+00:00

Multi-layer buildout 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 high-velocity impact of shotcrete on the surface is in effect like sandblasting, and opens up the receiving surface immediately before exposing it to the fresh cementitious paste. Cores taken through multiple layered shotcrete sections exhibit no signs of reduced bond. Often it is nearly impossible to identify where one layer stops and the next starts.
Incremental placement of reinforcing bars in layered application is also common. Proper shotcrete consistency, nozzleman 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 concrete surface.
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.”

Is shotcrete applied to hardened cast-in-place concrete considered monolithic by the American Concrete Institute (ACI)? Is shotcrete-to-shotcrete 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.)2020-01-29T15:31:09+00:00

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. Pulloff testing of shotcrete applied to concrete will often fail in the underlying concrete substrate, and not at the bond interface or within the shotcrete section.
Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete and should have similar watertightness characteristics. These characteristics can be enhanced with admixtures and supplementary cementitious materials such as silica fume. Please refer to the images of cores from shotcrete applied to existing concrete.

Do we need to coat reinforcing steel after sandblasting and prior to placement of product?2020-01-29T15:30:48+00:00

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.

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 wingwalls. The shotcrete will be placed in lifts as soil is excavated between abutment/wingwall caissons. The architectural pattern for the face of the abutments and wingwalls 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 after the structural wall is cured? 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?2020-01-29T15:30:18+00:00

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 an architecturally uniform surface.
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. (51 mm).
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 finish the finish layer to the depth of the detail strips.
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.

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 isn’t prevention now cheaper than remediation later?2020-01-29T15:29:58+00:00

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.

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 building walls. 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?2020-01-29T15:29:41+00:00

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.

We are involved in the design of a hydro project in a section of a water-conveyance 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 and entrainment of fragments into the turbine/powerhouse. 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?2020-01-29T15:29:15+00:00

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 concrete requirements.
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 project owners.
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 erosion of the concrete surface.
Supplemental cementitious materials including microsilica, fly ash, and slag will generally reduce the porosity of the hardened concrete. Microsilica 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.

We have a large project involving shotcreting soffits in an underground parking garage. The shotcreting overhead is not the problem; the problem is properly screeding the excess shotcrete from the ceiling leaving a semi-smooth finish.2020-01-29T15:28:55+00:00

Properly screeding 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 nozzlemen, rodman, and finishers. Shotcrete that is not screeded and finished properly will likely suffer bonding and other issues.

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 on the surface, but efflorescence has been noted. The tank was painted after 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??2020-01-29T15:20:55+00:00

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 creates what is termed “efflorescence.”
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 often 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 often 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 contained within the tank.
Although the tank was cured properly to help deal with long-term drying shrinkage, surface cracking on shotcrete often 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 slabs or in your case the fresh shotcrete wall surface).
To answer your question regarding when it will stop, the answer is it won’t 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 coatings.
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 help, too.
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 after 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 long-term seal.
Finally, the efflorescence caused by exposure to rainwater is generally only a visual defect and doesn’t 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.

Can you refer me to the standards for adding water to ready mixed shotcrete?2020-01-29T15:19:31+00:00

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 Ready-Mixed 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.”

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?2020-01-29T14:37:14+00:00

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.

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??2020-01-29T14:36:10+00:00

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.

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 range of velocity. 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?2020-01-29T14:35:44+00:00

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”).

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?2020-01-29T14:35:17+00:00

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 input.

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) after 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?2020-01-29T14:34:52+00:00

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 interest:

With properly qualified nozzlemen, a good shotcrete mixture, and high-quality accelerator added at the nozzle, the re-entry time can be minimal—normally 24 hours.

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 installation—for 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 nozzleman need between the wall receiving the shotcrete and the wall at his/her back? Are there robotic means or other methods in use that would allow shotcrete applications without a hands-on nozzleman? Are there any other workspace limitations or controls that should be considered when determining feasibility of shotcrete application methods?2020-01-29T14:33:43+00:00

In the case of installing a lining inside of an existing pipe, there are robotic methods available, such as spin lining, where the cementitious 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 method.
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 nozzling or spin lining are applicable. For pipes much larger than 6 to 8 ft (1.8 to 2.4 m), hand nozzling is likely the best solution.
In the case of clearance between a wall to be shotcreted 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.

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?2020-01-29T14:33:12+00:00

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 products.

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 conditions?2020-01-29T14:32:49+00:00

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, microsilica will tend to create less rebound; more than 30% coarse aggregate can cause more rebound)
  • Plastic concrete properties (air content, slump)
  • Nozzleman 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
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 Tapcons.2020-01-29T14:30:51+00:00

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.

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 I’m 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?2020-01-29T14:30:19+00:00

A pH of 5.7 is slightly acidic, while 9.7 is quite alkaline. According to PCA’s “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.”

We are, and have been, designing and constructing permanent soil nail and shotcrete retaining walls. Typically, our designs consist of a primary nozzle-finished 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 wall’s 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 nozzlemen 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 placed this way. 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?2020-01-29T14:29:48+00:00

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 archives—found on our website, —that may provide the designer or owner more information to allow them to make their design decision.

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) waterstop 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 waterstop.2020-01-29T14:29:06+00:00

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 waterstop and it should only be attempted by a shotcrete contractor with experience in this application. The successful encapsulation of the waterstop 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 waterstops.

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?2020-01-29T14:28:38+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-29T14:28:00+00:00

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 state’s intent is clarified, this question should be posed to a shotcrete contractor who might be the actual contractor on the project for their input.
As this is a fertilizer plant, there may be additional considerations due to the potentially aggressive nature of the fluids introduced into this pit.

I’m 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?2020-01-29T13:55:32+00:00

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 nozzleman, 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.

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?2020-01-29T13:54:52+00:00

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 Administration’s “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.

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 didn’t 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 shotcrete?2020-01-29T13:54:15+00:00

The Federal Highway Administration’s “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 nozzleman 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.

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?2020-01-29T13:48:34+00:00

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.

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 up short. Here is where I am falling short: there is no (or I haven’t 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.2020-01-28T20:03:34+00:00

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.

What is the R-value per inch for shotcrete without any integrated insulation?2020-01-28T19:59:43+00:00

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.”

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?2020-01-28T19:56:51+00:00

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 Section 8.3, it states:
“To eliminate sawcut 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 eliminated is recommended.”
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 shrinkage without contraction joints.
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.

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?2020-01-28T19:56:31+00:00

Installing a shotcrete lining requires a somewhat dry substrate and certainly is not compatible with running water. The water needs to be blocked or diverted.
A means of blocking the inflow is to inject a swellable 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.

I have a newly constructed in-ground pool in which shotcrete was used. The pool has been holding dirty water since just after the shotcrete cured. Does the shotcrete have to be cleaned and/or treated before an overlay is applied?2020-01-28T19:49:34+00:00

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.

What are the common standard test methods to measure or assess the permeability of shotcrete?2020-01-28T19:49:16+00:00

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%.

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?2020-01-28T19:48:50+00:00

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 proven in a Preconstruction Test Panel.
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 Nozzlemen 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.

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.)2020-01-28T19:47:56+00:00

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. After the patch is completed, roughen the surface that will receive the plaster.

What is the fire rating information for shotcrete?2020-01-28T19:46:37+00:00

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.”

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!2020-01-28T19:46:08+00:00

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 40°F (4°C) and rising for starting concrete/shotcrete operations and 40°F (4°C) 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.

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.2020-01-28T19:45:27+00:00

Shotcrete is often 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.

We are in the process of building a shotcrete pool and are required to wet-test the pool before set, waterproofing, and tile. What is the expected water-loss percentage? We are required to achieve 1%.2020-01-28T19:45:01+00:00

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 found in the ACI 350.1-10 document.
It should be noted that the pool should be filled and allowed to saturate for 3 days before beginning the measurements.

Can shotcrete be used to help seal a leaking pond? We have a 1.5 acre (6070 m²) 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?2020-01-28T19:44:35+00:00

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.

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.2020-01-28T19:42:23+00:00

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 major differences with shotcrete mixtures are:

  • The maximum coarse aggregate size is generally limited to about 3/8 in. (9.5 mm);
  • They use a fairly low water-cementitious material ratio (w/cm) and slump to allow shooting on vertical surfaces without sloughing;
  • The potential to use an accelerator that can be added at the nozzle; and
  • The pumpability is an important workability characteristic.

Since you desire a high-early-strength mixture, using fly ash as a supplemental cementitious material (SCM) wouldn’t be recommended because it slows set and strength gain at early ages. Microsilica 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.

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?2020-01-28T19:41:38+00:00

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 doesn’t want contraction joints, they need to understand that cracking will be much more extensive and likely more noticeable.
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 fiber-reinforced 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 more normal in practice.
Canals are generally specified to have a natural gun finish, a rough broom finish, or a light broom finish.

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?2020-01-28T19:41:20+00:00

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.

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. After 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?2020-01-28T19:41:01+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T19:37:23+00:00

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 after 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.

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?2020-01-28T19:37:07+00:00

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.

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.2020-01-28T19:36:52+00:00

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 “ASA’s Buyers Guide”.

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?2020-01-28T19:36:35+00:00

Phosphate-bonded refractory materials were routinely shot in cyclone boilers in the 1970s. These phosphate-bonded materials don’t 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.

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?2020-01-28T19:36:20+00:00

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.

I have a new construction project where I want to apply shotcrete to cast-in-place 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?2020-01-28T19:36:00+00:00

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.

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.2020-01-28T19:35:45+00:00

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.

What difference would there be in the density of shotcrete before and after shooting? Is there any shotcrete mixture-design software in SI units available? Or any document of shotcrete mixture design in SI units for optimizing shotcrete design?2020-01-28T19:35:31+00:00

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 software 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.

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 time?2020-01-28T19:35:14+00:00

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 reducing long-term drying shrinkage of the wall.
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 tank’s 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 manufacturer’s 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.

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?2020-01-28T19:34:57+00:00

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”

Is there is a manufactured depth gauge that would be glued/nailed to the form to allow the nozzleman 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.2020-01-28T19:34:42+00:00

ACI 506R-05, “Guide to Shotcrete,” Section 5.6, on Alignment Control (refer to ASA Bookstore: 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 depth probes. Please refer to “ASA’s Buyers Guide” ( and contact one of our members who provides supplies to the shotcrete industry

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?2020-01-28T19:34:24+00:00

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.

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.2020-01-28T19:34:04+00:00

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.

Is there a specification with regard to cold joints when using shotcrete?2020-01-28T19:33:45+00:00

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 often 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.

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?2020-01-28T19:30:33+00:00

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.

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.2020-01-28T19:30:09+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T19:29:55+00:00

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 accelerator added at the nozzle.
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 required finished surface texture.
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.

I would appreciate if you could comment on a city of Los Angeles shotcrete code that requires that shotcrete lifts not exceed 3 ft (1 m) and that 3 hours must pass before the second lift can be applied. First of all, if you waited 3 hours between lifts, you would have full-length cold joints along the whole length of the wall. You’d also have to wash out the pump after every lift or the concrete would harden in the pump and hoses. Second, you can’t 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?2020-01-28T19:29:35+00:00

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 has shown up in other areas around the country.
A good shotcrete practice is to limit lift height to that which can be placed without sloughing or sagging and to place subsequent lifts 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 point. The following is a link to ASA’s bookstore:

Can you send me a document with ASA specifications for gunite coverage of reinforcing bar for swimming pools, please?2020-01-28T19:28:22+00:00

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 to pools. The following is a link to ACI’s bookstore:

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?2020-01-28T19:28:05+00:00

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 requirement.

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?2020-01-28T19:27:47+00:00

There are prepackaged materials commercially available for impact and abrasion resistance. Please contact material suppliers from “ASA’s Buyers Guide” for product information: Guide.

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?2020-01-28T19:27:29+00:00

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 Assemblies.”
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.

When was the 4000 psi (28 MPa) standard set for shotcrete?2020-01-28T19:27:09+00:00

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 f´c 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 f´c 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.

I’m 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. I’ve 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?2020-01-28T19:26:52+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T19:26:00+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T19:25:45+00:00

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 often necessary to grind off a spot of the galvanized coating at the spot of each stud weld location to properly weld the studs.

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 addition, there are hairline cracks and rust spots. 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?2020-01-28T19:25:27+00:00

This type of repair is commonly done using the shotcrete process. The extent of the repair is an engineering issue, not a shotcrete issue—shotcrete 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 mortars can be placed as thin as 1/2 in. (13 mm).
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.

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?2020-01-28T19:25:08+00:00

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 often 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.

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?2020-01-28T19:04:02+00:00

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 curing—as well as the age and quality of the shear wall concrete substrate—may affect the bond. These factors should be considered by an engineer experienced with shotcrete overlays in deciding whether additional anchoring is advisable.

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)?2020-01-28T19:03:46+00:00

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).

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?2020-01-28T19:03:03+00:00

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

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 asbestos?2020-01-28T19:01:39+00:00

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 shotcrete.

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.2020-01-28T19:01:06+00:00

The friction coefficient n of well-finished shotcrete for use in Kutter’s equation (and, more streamlined, Manning’s 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.

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?2020-01-28T19:00:33+00:00

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.

Good practices for placing shotcrete or concrete include:

  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 recommended.

Using fibers in the shotcrete/concrete can also help control surface early-age plastic shrinkage cracking.

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 suggestions?2020-01-28T18:59:49+00:00

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.

Which method of placing concrete provides a longer service life—traditional cast-in-place concrete with two-sided forms or shotcrete?2020-01-28T18:58:50+00:00

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.

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 brick—3/8 in. (10 mm) deep—and soft mortar joints. The damaged side of the wall is exposed to weather. I plan to recommend tuck-pointing 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.2020-01-28T18:58:34+00:00

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 often used to mechanically tie the shotcrete overlay to the brick wall and also stabilize the new reinforcing steel in the shotcrete overlay.

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?2020-01-28T18:58:19+00:00

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 magazine’s 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 temperature.

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?2020-01-28T18:58:01+00:00

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 temperature.

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?2020-01-28T18:57:44+00:00

It is very common in drill and blast operations to blast shortly after 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 temperature.

I have a question regarding the oscillator on a shotcrete rig. When applying shotcrete, does the oscillator serve any purpose other than uniform application? I’m searching for the main reason to use an oscillator and am wondering if the integrity of the shotcrete would be compromised if it were disabled?2020-01-28T18:57:26+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T18:57:10+00:00

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 nozzlemen 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.

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 testing?2020-01-28T18:56:51+00:00

The article “Shotcrete Testing—Who, Why, When, and How” in ASA’s 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.

Can shotcrete be recycled?2020-01-28T18:56:35+00:00

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

In placing shotcrete in layers, what is the recommended thickness of each layer?2020-01-28T18:56:18+00:00

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 (microsilica, fly ash, and slag); e) fibers used in the mixture; and f) mixture temperature;
  4. Weather conditions—Is it hot or cold, dry or wet, and/or windy or calm?;
  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 Nozzlemen 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.

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?2020-01-28T18:56:00+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T18:55:33+00:00

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.

Is shotcrete used as a canal liner?2020-01-28T18:55:13+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T18:54:58+00:00

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 don’t 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.

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?2020-01-28T18:52:45+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T18:52:29+00:00

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.

Is there a recognized standard addressing pass/fail criteria for abrasion testing of cement mortar shotcrete-lined corrugated steel pipe?2020-01-28T18:51:19+00:00

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 Method for Abrasion Resistance of Concrete (Underwater Method).”

Also, ACI 350-06, “Code Requirements for Environmental Concrete Structures,” Section 4.6, has requirements for protection against erosion.

When replacing welded-wire reinforcement with micro- or macro-synthetic or steel fibers, how is the “equivalent dosage” of fibers determined?2020-01-28T18:50:58+00:00

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.”

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?2020-01-28T18:50:39+00:00

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 certified shotcrete nozzlemen from our Buyers Guide at or submit a bid request through our Online Bid Submittal Tool at

We are studying a repair to an existing large-diameter corrugated metal pipe. The owner requires that the repair meet the fifth 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.2020-01-28T18:49:51+00:00

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 often 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.

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 after shotcrete placement before the wet cure is applied?2020-01-28T18:49:36+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T18:49:19+00:00

Shotcrete is a method of placing concrete and therefore the material has the same basic characteristics of concrete. Shotcrete is often 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

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?2020-01-28T18:49:03+00:00

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, I’d assume that the use of shotcrete in your tunnel would be perfectly acceptable.

Often, 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?2020-01-28T18:48:47+00:00

It is not uncommon to encapsulate lattice girders or steel sets in fibrous shotcrete. The skill of the nozzleman, 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 nozzleman and the mixture. Please note that the best nozzleman cannot succeed without a good, workable mixture.

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 shotcrete’s freezing-and-thawing performance?2020-01-28T18:48:30+00:00

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 sealer.

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?2020-01-28T18:47:56+00:00

Shotcrete has been used to successfully rehabilitate sewers for over 50 years.

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 problem.

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.

Can you provide any information or research on the sound absorption performance of shotcrete?2020-01-28T18:47:37+00:00

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 shotcrete.

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?2020-01-28T18:47:08+00:00

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.

What are the requirements for selection of the shotcrete lift height and delay between successive layers? ACI 506R describes only a general approach.2020-01-28T18:46:52+00:00

Although some have tried, there are not and should not be specific recommendations for lift height or time between lifts 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 lifts or layers, the receiving surface must be clean and moisture-conditioned to create a good bond between lifts 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 lifts or layers. The goal is to place the lifts or layers in heights or thick­nesses that do not slough or sag. The time between lifts 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 nozzleman 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.

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?2020-01-28T18:46:37+00:00

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 won’t 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 after 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 microsilica), 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 water-cement 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 haven’t 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.

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?2020-01-28T18:46:03+00:00

Yes, shotcrete can be applied in a 36 in. (0.9 m) area. Keep in mind, however, that it’s 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.

Can shotcrete be applied on wet shale rock? How well does shotcrete bond to shale?2020-01-28T18:45:43+00:00

Shotcrete is routinely used to seal shale after excavations. It is typically done as soon as possible after 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 flash-set 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 nozzlemen and should provide you with a résumé 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 contractors.

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.2020-01-28T18:45:02+00:00

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 viewed on the ASA Web site at

We recently contracted with a shotcrete company to install a shotcrete structure for a swimming pool. After 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 company’s 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. Shouldn’t 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 didn’t cover the reinforcing bar enough? What is the standard practice for shotcrete installation?2020-01-28T18:44:34+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T18:44:20+00:00

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.

I would like to add fibers to a shotcrete mixture. Many research articles discuss steel fibers and sometimes synthetic. I’d like to consider glass or synthetic fibers because the exterior wall will be visible and I don’t 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?2020-01-28T18:44:03+00:00

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

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?2020-01-28T18:43:07+00:00

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, it’s 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 nozzleman 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 Guide at

I am searching for a sample specification that calls for the use of a polymer-modified 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.2020-01-28T18:41:30+00:00

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 discussed in various articles of Shotcrete magazine at

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?2020-01-28T18:29:41+00:00

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, let’s 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.

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 engineer’s 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?2020-01-28T18:29:23+00:00

The project as described sounds very feasible for a structural shotcrete application. As we understand, the concerns are:

  1. Detailing construction joints—Please 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. Curing—Shotcrete 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 cracking—The 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 after 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 water-cementitious 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

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).2020-01-28T18:29:04+00:00

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-and-thawing 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, nozzlemen, and equipment to be used in the shotcreting are highly recommended to verify the strength performance of the shotcrete.

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?2020-01-28T18:28:47+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T18:28:29+00:00

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.

Can a shotcrete mixture be designed using crushed washed sand instead of natural washed sand?2020-01-28T18:26:22+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T18:26:01+00:00

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 shotcrete.

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.

We’re looking at adding approximately 4 in. (100 mm) of shotcrete to an existing 8 in. (200 mm) wall to meet new load requirements. What’s the minimum cover between the rein­forcement and existing wall for proper encapsulation of the reinforcement?2020-01-28T18:25:39+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T18:25:17+00:00

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 (

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?2020-01-28T18:24:30+00:00

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

  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 the issue is one of a design approach.
    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.
What is the recommended cure time for shotcrete pools and spas so that shrinkage cracks in finished tile work can be avoided?2020-01-28T18:23:38+00:00

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 after 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.

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 we’re using the slabs as a cover to protect the spread of contamination in the soil until the soil remediation begins. We’d 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.2020-01-28T18:23:12+00:00

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 long-term 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.

We have an approximately 9500 ft2 (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.2020-01-28T18:22:54+00:00

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 guidance.

How soon after shooting a pool shell can formwork be removed? How soon can tiling begin?2020-01-28T18:22:39+00:00

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.

Type CA and FA shotcrete are two classifications listed in ASTM C1480. What is the application of these two types of shotcrete?2020-01-28T18:21:36+00:00

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 contractor.

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?2020-01-28T18:21:13+00:00

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.

I have a question on cold weather shotcreting. I have heard that for shotcrete operations, the ambient temperature has to be 40°F (4.4°C) and rising. I am on a job, and the inspector said it only needs to be 35°F (1.67°C) and rising. The high for the day is expected to be around 45°F (7.2°C), then fall back into the high 20s F (–4 to –1.67°C). What would be your advice?2020-01-28T18:13:19+00:00

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 40°F (4.4°C) and 2) the air temperature is not greater than 50°F (10°C) 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 ACI’s Web site,, from the Bookstore and Publications tab. You can also download articles regarding cold weather placement from ASA’s Web site,—click on “Shotcrete magazine,” go to the article search page, and type in “cold weather.”

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 required?2020-01-28T18:13:03+00:00

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.

We will be tiling a pool. The pool’s shotcrete walls and floor were placed approximately 10 days ago. What is the earliest we can begin gauging the pool walls and floors?2020-01-28T18:12:27+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T18:12:11+00:00

The new shotcrete layer can be added to the existing shotcrete or installed after 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 fiber-reinforced 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.

We recently stained a shotcrete wall. After 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 inconsistency?2020-01-28T18:11:54+00:00

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.

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.2020-01-28T18:10:54+00:00

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 ASA’s 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.

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.2020-01-28T18:10:34+00:00

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 ASA’s 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 ASA’s 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.

Is it feasible and economical to construct floodwalls approximately 5 ft (1.5 m) high with shotcrete?2020-01-28T18:09:58+00:00

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 after 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.

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.2020-01-28T18:09:39+00:00

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 culvert’s life would probably be much longer than 10 years. In the end, an engineering call should be made, but the material will perform.

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?2020-01-28T18:09:20+00:00

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 often 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.

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 daily?2020-01-28T18:09:03+00:00

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 be found at

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?2020-01-28T18:06:19+00:00

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 walls.

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?2020-01-28T18:05:21+00:00

Shotcrete can, and often 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.

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?2020-01-28T18:03:37+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T18:03:17+00:00

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 nozzleman to encapsulate the reinforcing will be a function of proper mixture design, proper selection of shotcrete equipment, and the skill level of the nozzleman and the crew.

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?2020-01-28T18:02:56+00:00

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 surface-dry condition. If these steps are followed, there should be no concern about the soundness of the joint.

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 use?2020-01-28T18:01:28+00:00

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.

How can I maintain a 2 in. (50 mm) thickness of shotcrete in a rock excavated tunnel?2020-01-28T18:00:58+00:00

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.

What can we add to dry-process shotcrete mixtures for cold weather operations?2020-01-28T17:57:34+00:00

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 novice.

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,

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.2020-01-28T17:57:15+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T17:53:48+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T17:53:31+00:00

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.

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.2020-01-28T17:53:14+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T17:52:52+00:00

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.

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.2020-01-28T17:52:29+00:00

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 longevity.

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 concrete?2020-01-28T17:52:06+00:00

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.

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 4×4 W4xW4 wire mesh. Can the entire 6 inch thickness be placed at one or will it require a number of different lifts to build up to the 6 inch thickness?2020-01-28T17:51:29+00:00

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 lifts would depend upon the height of the wall and the nature of the surface that the shotcrete is being placed against.

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?2020-01-28T17:51:15+00:00

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.

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 shotcrete?2020-01-28T17:50:57+00:00

A limestone coarse aggregate will generally be harder and more angular than what you are used to seeing in shotcrete mixtures. It really shouldn’t 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 in-place shotcrete.

Is there any specified finish for shotcrete?2020-01-28T17:50:36+00:00

There are several different finishes that are specified for shotcrete. One is a natural gun finish, which is the natural finish as sprayed (often 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 often flashed and sealed with a light gun finish to seal and texture the surface). Often 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 after 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.

We have a large pond (12,000 ft2 [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?2020-01-28T17:48:04+00:00

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 solution.

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?2020-01-28T17:47:37+00:00

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 after 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 ¼” (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.

Is the core grading scale in the ACI CP-60(02) manual used as an acceptance tool on projects?2020-01-28T17:47:12+00:00

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

What is the recommended core size for shotcrete? Are there unique characteristics of shotcrete cores?2020-01-28T17:46:50+00:00

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-to-diameter 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.

My firm just completed a 2 in. (51 mm) overlay of shotcrete in an existing storage tank. Almost immediately after 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 cracking?2020-01-28T17:46:33+00:00

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 conditions.

Is a bonding agent recommended when placing shotcrete on an existing substrate?2020-01-28T17:46:04+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T17:45:42+00:00

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%.

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.2020-01-28T16:31:31+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T16:30:58+00:00

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.

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 from?2020-01-28T16:30:14+00:00

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 revolutions—whichever 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.

We are hearing a lot of discussion about performance versus prescription specifications? What do we need to know about this discussion?2020-01-28T16:29:57+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T16:29:40+00:00

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 nozzleman (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 Nozzleman certification is an important requirement in screening for qualified nozzle operators. However, it is not a guarantee that the nozzleman 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 work.

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?2020-01-28T16:26:27+00:00

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.

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 favorable.2020-01-28T16:26:02+00:00

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.

What is the best reference when specifying aggregate gradations for shotcrete projects?2020-01-28T16:24:40+00:00

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.”

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?2020-01-28T16:24:20+00:00

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 cast-in-place methods when properly placed.

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?2020-01-28T16:22:46+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T16:22:19+00:00

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 nozzlemen, selecting appropriate materials and shotcrete mixture design, and following industry recommendations for placing, finishing, and curing.

Are there specific benefits in using silica fume in shotcrete beyond reduced permeability in the hardened shotcrete?2020-01-28T16:21:55+00:00

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.

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?2020-01-28T15:34:07+00:00