Field Performance of Epoxy-coated Reinforcing Steel in Virginia Bridge Decks

Report No: 00-R16

Published in 2000

About the report:

In this study, the corrosion protection performance of epoxy-coated reinforcing steel (ECR) was evaluated using approximately 250 concrete cores from 18 bridge decks in Virginia. The decks were 2 to 20 years old at the time of the investigation. The deck field inspections included a crack survey and cover depth determination in the right traffic lane. A maximum of 12 cores with the top reinforcement randomly located in the lowest 12th percentile cover depth were taken from each bridge deck. Because of the safety concerns associated with taking cores from the lower steel mat, and to minimize damage to the bridge, a maximum of only 3 cores were taken through the truss bars. The laboratory evaluation of the concrete cores included a visual examination and a determination of the carbonation depth, moisture content, absorption, percent saturation, and chloride content at a 13-mm depth. The rapid chloride permeability test was also performed for the surface and base concrete on samples obtained from the cores taken through the truss bars to determine chloride permeability. The ECR inspection consisted of a visual examination, a damage evaluation, and a determination of coating thickness and adhesion. The condition of the steel underneath the epoxy coating was also evaluated. Adhesion loss of the epoxy coating to the steel surface was detected in all but one deck that was 4 years old and older. The epoxy coatings were debonding from the reinforcing bars. Whereas a bonded coating can be expected to protect the steel, a debonded coating allows chlorides, moisture, and oxygen to reach the steel and initiate a rapid corrosion mechanism. Reinforcing bars in various stages of adhesion loss showed visible signs of a corrosion process underneath the coating, suggesting that ECR will provide little or no additional service life for concrete bridge decks in comparison to bare steel. Other systems that will provide longer protection against chloride-induced corrosion of the reinforcing steel with a higher degree of reliability should be considered.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

Wioleta A. Pyć, Richard E. Weyers, Ryan M. Weyers, David W. Mokarem, Jerzy Zemajtis,  Michael M. Sprinkel, P.E., John G. Dillard

Last updated: December 11, 2023

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