Adding the Secret Sauce to Concrete Mix | AGRU America

Adding the Secret Sauce to Concrete Mix

Abby: Hi; welcome to the AGRU America podcast. In today’s show, we discuss the indispensable role of concrete fabricators to protect at-risk concrete in wastewater and storm water industries.

We also discuss the primary differences between spray-on coatings and concrete protective liner.

This discussion comes on the heels of our recently published blog: “A fabricator’s role in preparing concrete protective liners”. If you’d like to get a deeper look into this discussion be sure to check out that blog on

Joining me in today’s discussion is Cody Miles. Thanks for joining me today, Cody. 

Cody: Happy to be here, Abby

Abby: What surprised you most about your research?

Cody: Honestly, I did not realize just how important fabricators can be to a project. At AGRU, we often stress the vital role our products have in their applications, but that doesn’t give enough credit to the installers and fabricators who partner with AGRU. They are most often the individuals who breathe life into our products. I imagine it’s kind of like a tailor. Like a tailor, fabricators take these materials and shape them into something new.

Abby: In this case, the product is concrete protective liners — we often refer to them simply as CPL — and the finished form is the shape it needs to be to fit its corresponding concrete structure.

Cody: Right, Exactly. I thought that was a great way to visualize their role.

Abby: CPL is typically specified as a way to help guard concrete structures against water infiltration and corrosion. Why is that?

Cody: Well, AGRU’s concrete protective liner is made with thermoplastics. This is a material that is both hydrophobic—which is, capable of repelling water—and chemically inert. This makes the liner really well-suited to work as a protective barrier for concrete, which can sustain damage depending on the compounds that it comes into contact with.

Abby: So CPL helps prevent water and other compounds from permeating through pores in the concrete and coming into contact with the underlying metal reinforcement.

Cody: Yes, and you want to prevent this from happening. When water and other compounds come in contact with the steel, the reaction creates oxide byproducts. These byproducts buildup over time, and cause mechanical stress that ultimately leads to cracking.

Abby: I know that CPL can also help protect against other sources of damage. One source that surprised me was ice. In areas that experience large changes in temperature, for example, water is able to seep into cracks and later form into ice. That ice expands, causing structural damage before even reaching the reinforcement.

Cody: Right! There’s plenty of examples where infiltration can lead to trouble. There are even industrial applications that require the containment of compounds like acids and salts that are corrosive to concrete. The most common example is a municipal wastewater system, which can suffer from microbial-induced corrosion triggered by waste byproducts. In these situations, an impermeable barrier to protect the concrete is absolutely necessary.

I recently visited a wastewater treatment facility in Vancouver that has been using AGRU Sure-Grip and AGRU Ultra-Grip, which are our concrete protective liner products, since the early 1990s. They’re currently treating about 175 billion liters of wastewater each year. Without a concrete lining solution covering the walls and ceilings of their channels and tanks, you’d likely find yourself providing extensive maintenance periodically. 

Abby: In the market, you basically have the decision of using CPL or a spray-on coating. Spray-on coatings have been the traditional solution for concrete protection, but the draw-backs can make it a more costly decision over time. That’s primarily because it’s not a permanent solution, as it has virtually no backpressure resistance and can peel away over time.

Alternatively, CPL is extruded with an anchoring system that attaches itself to the concrete. This makes the installation more extensive, but it also provides a much longer service life.

Cody: I think it boils down to the fact that CPL is typically installed during the concrete pour. If you want to use CPL in this way, you will need to shape the sheets to exact specifications, and that requires a combination of training and experience.

Abby: In our recent blog on this subject, we interviewed a man named Wayne Turner, who is the owner of Turner Lining Company in DeLand, Florida. Mr. Turner explained to us that his role often begins as a consultant, providing guidance during the planning stages. He says that much of the project parameters are determined by the complexity of the concrete structures. The more complicated they are, the more likely fabrication will be required. Some projects will be relatively straightforward and a contractor who has received training to install CPL should be able to complete the installation and welding required. It varies from project to project.

Cody: What other information does a fabricator typically help put together?

Abby: Fabricators also provide information on various CPL products and benefits, accessories, how skilled fabrication can improve installation time and quality, and how to effectively implement quality assurance.

Cody: So. if a fabricator isn’t directly involved with the installation, they can still provide assistance in other ways at this stage, right?

Abby: Yes, a fabricator can provide installation feedback and guidance to help the project determine their best course of action. For instance, a fabricator can help determine concrete cast heights and joint locations, which can minimize joint welding time. They can also help identify welds that can be made before casting, saving both installation time and effort.

Cody: Cost savings is always a good thing. From the information you’ve read, what constitutes a successful installation?

Abby: There are two steps leading to a successfully-installed CPL. First, the liner should be properly fitted to the forms and concrete, providing good consolidation around the embedment anchors. Second, the liner should protect against leaks. Creating a leak-free barrier for the concrete structure requires skilled welders certified by the CPL’s manufacturer.

Cody: We asked Mr. Turner about the future of fabricators and he believes that more projects will begin to take advantage of CPL as a means to help stop water infiltration and preventing corrosion of concrete structures. How would you summarize their role moving forward?

Abby: With CPL becoming a staple product added to these projects, teams will turn to fabricators to help close any knowledge gaps that may exist. In this capacity, the fabricator will not only help find the best solution to the project-specific challenges, but also actively prepare the CPL for use and can even provide auxiliary installation services.

And with that, we come to a close with this podcast. A big thank you to Cody for joining me today for this discussion. To our listeners, thank you for tuning in. We hope you’ve enjoyed listening. For more information on this subject, be sure to check out our recently published blog: “A fabricator’s role in preparing concrete protective liners” at