Breaking the Cycle of Surface Scaling on Concrete Flatwork

Date: July 24, 2019 5:30pm
Location: Atlantic Wharf
sgh boston

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Atlantic Wharf (in the Fort Point Room) 
290 Congress Street 
Boston, MA 02210

5:30 - 6:00 p.m. Registration & Refreshments
6:00 - 7:00 p.m. Presentation & Discussion
7:00 - 7:30 p.m. Cocktail Reception

aia logoParticipants will earn 1.0 AIA CES Learning Unit (LU/HSW) for their attendance. Attendance is free and open to all; please invite colleagues. We will serve refreshments and hors d'oeuvres. Space is limited.


New England has seen a growing epidemic of sidewalk and other exterior flatwork scaling, a condition that leaves concrete with surface deterioration ranging from localized pockmarks and blemishes to widespread near-surface loss of concrete. When scaling occurs, the resulting loss of concrete presents an aesthetic failure, a tripping hazard, and most importantly, a loss in confidence from users who see the damage as a project failure and a waste of time and money. With the causes of scaling well known, the continued and apparent increase in this type of failure is disappointing and somewhat mystifying. In this presentation, we will discuss the causes of concrete scaling using perspectives gained from working at the center of relationships between concrete producers, specifiers, owners, and cement finishers. The presenters postulate that this upsurge of scaling results from a self-reinforcing cycle of aggressive competition, pricing, actions, specifications, expectations, and supervision, in which all parties have some responsibility but cannot correct in isolation. We will also explore ideas for correcting this trend and mitigating its effects, including practical tips and case study examples. 

After attending this seminar, participants will be able to: 

  • Understand the causes of surface scaling on concrete formwork.
  • Recognize common mitigation strategies for avoiding concrete surface scaling. 
  • Identify factors leading to the recent onset of scaling issues, including aggressive competition, pricing, actions, specifications, expectations, and supervision.
  • Discuss ideas for correcting and mitigating these effects.



matthew sherman sghMatthew R. Sherman, P.E.| Senior Principal 
Matthew Sherman has extensive experience in the construction and engineering field performing evaluations of existing structures, assessing and evaluating concrete materials, developing products, and preparing and presenting reports on new materials. He specializes in field investigations, repair design, preparation of specifications, recommending materials, and establishing techniques for the repair of concrete structures. He has written and lectured frequently on concrete assessment, repair, and durability.

brett holland sghR. Brett Holland, Ph.D., P.E., S.E. | Senior Staff II – Structures
Brett Holland is a structural and civil engineer with both research and industry experience. He specializes in developing and implementing concrete for high-performance applications and durability requirements and investigating and repairing structures. He has performed investigations, design, and rehabilitation of a variety of structures, including historic stadiums, mechanically stabilized earth walls, concrete parking decks, concrete overlays, and port structures.  


  • Owners
  • Facilities Managers
  • Property Managers
  • Contractors
  • Architects
  • Attorneys