Reinforcing mesh in concrete is used to improve the tensile strength of the concrete by helping it hold together hence limiting cracking. However, not all concrete requires reinforcement. Concrete that carries heavy loads such as foundation walls, footings and columns almost always need reinforcing mesh. However, small concrete projects such as driveways, pathways or even playhouse floors do not need any reinforcing.
No matter how durable concrete is, you can still reinforce it to make it last much longer. Unlike rebar, steel mesh is formed easily, making it very popular. It may not offer the same kind of strength as rebar, but it is very close. It is very flexible, making it easy to work with. In addition to that, even though the mesh is made of mild steel, the reinforcing steel does not rust inside the concrete. Steel requires oxygen to rust and once the concrete has cured the iron is starved of oxygen. For this reason, it is important to make sure there is ample concrete surrounding the Reinforcing Mesh.
The following are tips for improving the strength of concrete with mesh:
1. Amount of mesh and cutting
The good thing about using steel mesh is that it does not require any special skills as rebar does. Steel mesh usually comes in rolls or sheets. While sheets are premeasured and cut, rolls need to be trimmed such that it fits the area it is intended to reinforce the concrete. When strengthening concrete sidewalks, for example, you measure the size of the excavated hole which is the size to cut the steel mesh to. Keeping height in mind, the same method applies when using the mesh for the walls. For columns and supports, you will have to use each side as a measurement, add them together and convert to square footage. To get the amount of steel mesh needed for the job you will divide that number into the half.
For steel mesh to be useful as reinforcement, it requires that it is in the center of concrete. This will also help prevent the steel from rusting. Therefore, when working on a sidewalk, you need to pour half of the pavement before you can place the steel mesh. When working on walls or columns then you will need to drain all of the concrete first ensuring that you leave a little room in the form.
3. Reinforce the concrete with steel mesh
It is important that you use heavy work gloves before placing the steel mesh. It is very pliable and forgiving but also heavy and may cut you if you are not careful when handling it. For a sidewalk reinforcement, you will need to lay the piece of mesh on top of the concrete you have already poured then pour the remaining concrete slowly. For a wall you will have to line the mesh up with the top of the form and while the cement is still wet lower the mesh down until its fully covered with concrete. The same case applies for columns only that you form the mesh into a cylinder and lash together with metal ties.