Expansion Joints Explained

Construction Specialties has the expertise and experience to handle complex projects, designing, testing and fabricating custom expansion joint solutions to satisfy the needs any project demands. But we're also here to help define what expansion joints are and what they're used for. Below are the most common questions surrounding expansion joints, but always feel free to contact us if you have additional questions.

Q: What are expansion joints used for?

A: An expansion joint is a designed gap in the floor, wall and ceiling of a building to accommodate any of the four different types of movement (thermal, wind sway, settlement, and seismic) that the building may be subject to. If expansion joints are not present in a large building or structure, that building is subject to cracking or damage over time. An expansion joint cover is designed to close those gaps while functioning to accommodate the expected movement.

Expansion Joints Explained

Q: What are the types of expansion joints?

A: Expansion joints can be found on both interior and exterior sides of a structure, including floors, walls, facades, ceilings, and roofs.

Q: Where are expansion joints required?

A: A structural engineer will determine where to place expansion joints (or gaps) in a structure, as well as how big the joints should be and how much movement is expected.

Expansion Joints Explained

Q: What is an expansion joint in a wall?

A: An expansion joint is essentially a gap on both sides of a wall. The joint(s) are necessary for a structure to be able achieve one or more of the four types of movement (thermal, wind sway, settlement, and seismic) without causing damage to the structure. 

Q: What happens if you don’t put expansion joints in concrete?

A: The concrete could crack depending on the size of the slab and movement if there are no gaps.

Expansion Joints Explained

Q: Are expansion joints necessary?

A: It depends on the size of the building or structure. Smaller structures like residential homes do not typically require expansion joints. Larger buildings like hospitals, schools, multi-story structures, parking garages and even sports complexes – to name a few - will require expansion joints. 

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