Throughout history, bridges have always been important, valuable structures in their own right. By their very nature, bridges are built in a variety of areas where the topography, ground conditions, or other existing structures and developments are unsuitable for conventional pathways, roads or railway construction. Therefore, bridges are found in the most challenging, exposed environments.

Modern bridges built using reinforced concrete or steel often require a service lifespan of more than 100 years. Recent surveys in Europe and North America have shown that the majority  of existing bridges already exhibit significant degrees of degradation. Many of them are therefore in need of substantial and often urgent repair and refurbishment.

Systems Plus Knowhow

Bird flying over Second Penang Bridge in Malaysia

Sika provides full support to bridge owners, architects, engineers, and contractors with necessary technical advice and assistance to ensure a successful project. In particular for refurbishment projects, this includes assistance throughout the process, from the initial survey and assessment, root cause diagnosis, specification writing, detailing, method statements, on-site quality control, and practical application assistance. For new construction, Sika can offer support to design structures for long service life. Sika’s expertise can make a significant contribution to minimizing the total project cost over the full defined service life-cycle.

Sika today provides a complete range of innovative products and systems specially designed to solve all challenging requirements in differing bridge projects anywhere in the world.

Concrete admixtures
Watertight joint systems
Liquid applied waterproofing membranes
Concrete repair systems
Corrosion inhibitors
Post-tensioning systems

Bridge Exposures

Bridge Icon  - Sika Solution
Water Ingress

Water can penetrate naturally through the capillary pore structures of reinforced concrete. In areas of carbonated concrete, or where there is a high chloride content on the surface of the steel reinforcing bars, reinforcement corrosion, cracks or spalling can occur on the surface.

Bridge Icon  - Sika Solution
Dynamic and Static Load

Overloading due to increasing traffic loads, inadequate design, damage to the structure, stress/fatigue failure, earthquake effects, or any other mechanical impact such as vehicle impact, can all exceed or reduce the load capacity of the structure.

Bridge Icon  - Sika Solution
Temperature Variation

By their nature and locations, bridges are subjected to a wide variation of temperatures between day and night/winter and summer conditions, or between different sides or surfaces of the structure. These frequent cycles result in thermal stresses and movement in the concrete structure that can also result in cracks.

Airport car park graphic
Carbon Dioxide

Carbon Dioxide (CO²) reacts with the Calcium Hydroxide (Ca(OH)²) in the pore liquid of the cement matrix of concrete structures and deposits as calcium carbonate (CaCO³). This process known as carbonation reduces the protection of embedded steel reinforcement, when the process reaches the reinforcement bars.

Bridge Icon  - Sika Solution
Chlorides Ingress

Chlorides come from de-icing salts used in winter, or from saltwater in marine environments. They can penetrate the concrete structure and once they reach the reinforcement bars, they can locally destroy the passivation film causing fast pitting corrosion.

Bridge Icon  - Sika Solution
Freeze / Thaw Action

The freeze-thaw process creates stresses in the concrete matrix due to the expansion of free water in the capillary pores during freezing conditions; this can result in the scaling of the surface of poor quality concrete. This action is also greatly accelerated by the presence of chlorides in the water.

Bridge Icon  - Sika Solution
Surface Erosion / Abrasion

Concrete elements submerged in water such as the bridge piers or columns are continuously exposed to erosion and abrasion of their surfaces. Damage occurs from the action of fast-flowing water, and the particles of sand or other solid materials in the water.

Bridge Icon  - Sika Solution
Fire Damage

Fire due to traffic accidents, for example, can result in a reduction of the structural integrity of any of the concrete elements including the columns, decks or precast segments, etc.

What Causes Damage and Deterioration to Bridges?

Type of Deterioration Root Cause
Steel Reinforcement Corrosion
  • Chloride ingress
  • Carbonated concrete
  • Stray electrical current
Structural Steel Corrosion
  • Inadequate steel coatings
  • Chloride ingress
  • Water ingress
Deck Corrosion (Reinforced concrete or steel deck)
  • Failing or inadequate waterproofing
  • Chloride ingress
  • Water ingress
Leaching / Efflorescence
  • Water ingress
Concrete Spalling
  • Steel reinforcement corrosion
  • Freeze-thaw action
  • Impact
Structural Cracks
  • Overloading
  • Structural movement/ vibration
  • Earthquake impact
Non-Structural Cracks
  • Shrinkage
  • Thermal movement
  • Alkali aggregate reaction
Scaling of Concrete Surface
  • Erosion
  • Abrasion
  • Salt expansion
  • Freeze-thaw action

Solutions for Bridges and Highways

1. Concrete Technology

Concrete structures such as bridges can be exposed to a broad range of forces and strains, starting internally with mechanical stresses resulting from the construction type and extending to various external attacks. Enormous stress on the concrete include such factors as extreme hot or cold temperature conditions and fluctuations, aggressive water or chemicals, continually rolling, abrading or pulsating strains on surfaces, or even in extreme cases the impact of fire. Therefore, a highly durable concrete is necessary for the construction or repair of a bridge.

The development and production of innovative concrete mix designs using special admixtures has been a core Sika business since 1910. Our technology and high-quality products have been continuously developed during this century of experience. Sika provides the most complete range of admixture technologies and products for the efficient replacement of highly durable concrete.

Highly Durable Concrete

Increasing the durability of concrete by using:

  • SikaFume® silica fume to increase the density of the matrix
  • Sika® FerroGard® corrosion inhibitor to prevent the corrosion of steel reinforcement
  • Sika® Antisol® for controlled curing of the concrete for significantly enhanced durability
  • SikaFiber® for increasing the ductility, tensile strength and resistance to concrete spalling in high temperatures
High Early Strength Concrete

High early strength concrete for reduced closure times is achieved by:

  • High range water reduction and plasticizing with Sika® ViscoCrete® and SikaPlast® technology, to provide enhanced strength development and precisely controlled concrete workability
  • Hardening or set acceleration to speed up the hydration process using SikaRapid® technology
Self Compacting Concrete

Casting concrete with maximum flowability for specific periods of time without the need for vibration by the addition of:

  • Sika® ViscoCrete® and Sika ViscoFlow® technology for highly flowable and workable concrete with optimized raw material usage, based on powerful water reduction with extended workability time
  • Sika® Stabilizer VMA for improved stability of the self compacting concrete, even with inferior quality aggregates
  • SikaFume® silica fume to provide increased density and durability of the matrix, with enhanced fresh concrete stability
Secure Bond of New to Existing Concrete
  • Two-component, structural epoxy bonding agent to bond fresh concrete to hardened concrete

2. Concrete Repair

Repairing damaged concrete is one of the primary requirements in the maintenance of concrete bridges. Localized spalling or full surface scaling of concrete surfaces has to be repaired with durable concrete repair materials. A sound and correctly repaired concrete substrate is also the basic requirement for any additional waterproofing, protection or strengthening systems to be applied.

Sika provides an extensive range of thoroughly tested and proven repair materials and systems based on different technologies for each specific requirement and situation. These include bonding and corrosion protection primers, hand and machine applied repair mortars, suitable for the vertical and overhead application, semi-fluid mortars for efficient bridge deck repairs, plus combined surface leveling and protection mortars, not requiring additional protective treatments (EpoCem®-technology).

Testing Product Application under Dynamic Load
  • With the application for installation and performance testing of repair mortars under live dynamic loading, SikaTop® Armatec®-110 EpoCem® fulfill the requirements of German Standard ZTV-SIB, TL BE-PCC, 1999.
Man repairing concrete bridge with Sika repair mortar

3. Structural Strengthening

If the existing steel reinforcement is reduced in capacity due to corrosion, if the traffic loads are increased (i.e. permissible axle weights), or if the structural design or seismic resistance needs improvement, then reinforced concrete bridges have to be strengthened.

Sika has been involved in structural strengthening since the development of the technology in the 1960’s using bonded steel plates. Since 1991, Sika has also been a pioneer with the development of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) based structural strengthening systems. As a leader in strengthening all types of reinforced concrete structures, Sika provides a full range of fully tested and approved strengthening systems.

Flexural Strengthening

Structural strengthening systems for the flexural strengthening of bridge decks, beams, and girders, consisting of Sikadur® structural epoxy adhesives and:

Post-tensioned Strengthening

Structural strengthening system for the post-tensioned strengthening of bridge decks and beams, consisting of:

  • Tendon based on CarboDur® plates and special CarboStress® anchorage heads
Men applying Sika CarboDur carbon fiber plates for structural strengthening

4. Waterproofing

Bridges are an essential part of modern infrastructure and are often subject to the harshest weather that climates have to offer. In order to maintain the durability over its design life, special attention should be given to the waterproofing and protection of exposed elements and critical areas such as the bridge deck itself, to prevent serious damage to the concrete and structural reinforcement.

Structural and Non-structural Cracks

Structural bonding and flexible watertight injection systems for crack sealing in concrete structures:

  • For the surface sealing of bridge decks: Flexible polyurethane and acrylic resin-based injection systems – Sika® Injection systems
  • For structural cracks and void repair:
Sika Solutions for Bridges

5. Joint Sealing

Bridges are complex and demanding structures. There are many joints that need waterproofing, from simple saw cut contraction joints to exposed movement and connection joints. These joints are exposed to thermal movement, constant vibrations, extreme weathering, mechanical impact from the traffic and chemical impact from spillage or de-icing.

The sealants must reliably prevent water from entering the structure and causing decay of concrete and steel components through corrosion. Durable waterproofing has a significant impact on the life expectancy of the bridge.

Elastic Joint Sealing

High performance watertight joint sealing systems for use on bridge decks, parapets, and other elements:

  • For bridge deck and deck waterproofing edge terminations: 
Joint Sealing for Connection Joints and Movement Joints
  • Connection joints between steel, defined asphalt types, concrete, granite, rails in track superstructure
  • Movement joints in road and airport pavements, parking decks, driveways, pedestrian and traffic areas
  • Joint dimensions 10 – 70 mm


Sika joint waterproofing at concrete slab on construction site

6. Concrete Protection

To improve the performance and durability of reinforced concrete surfaces on bridge structures, additional protection systems are frequently required, particularly in refurbishment situations. Typical concrete protection systems for bridges can be classified as hydrophobic impregnations, sealing impregnations, surface coatings, or corrosion inhibitors. These are designed for use in different situations or collectively in alternative combinations, to greatly reduce damage to the concrete surfaces, to stop or reduce the rate of steel reinforcement corrosion and prevent significant structural damage.

Sika provides a wide range of tested and well proven concrete protection systems based on different technologies including hydrophobic or sealing impregnations, rigid and elastic surface coatings, galvanic anodes, and surface applied corrosion inhibitors. All of these Sika products and systems fully comply with various standards and regulations.

Fair-Faced Concrete

For invisible protection of fair-faced concrete, count on Sika's solutions with cost effective products which cause no change in the structure's appearance. For facades, beams, columns and all areas of the bridge superstructure, Sika provides durable, deep penetrating, protective hydrophobic impregnations with a unique and complete concrete protection system, including:

  • Hydrophobic impregnations:
Cracking Concrete

High build, film-forming protective concrete coating system with crack-bridging abilities:

  • Water dispersed, low VOC elastomeric, acrylate based protective coating:
Concrete protection with Sikagard elastic protective coating

7. Grouting and Fixing

Remedial works on concrete bridge structures often include the requirement for void filling, fixing and sealing or bedding and grouting with free-flowing materials. Typical examples are concrete repairs using formwork, high precision grouting under bridge bearing plates, or for cable duct grouting. Additionally flowable resin and cement grouts are used to fix manholes or other steel frames and equipment, where rapid hardening materials are usually required to reduce closure times.

Sika provides a wide range of tested and well proven grouts and fixing materials based on all of the different technologies available including cement, epoxy, polyurethane and PMMA. For many decades, Sika has also provided special products for high precision applications such as bearing plates, rail tracks and duct sealing.

Structural Grouting

Materials for grouting under bridge bearing plates and to fill voids, holes, and cavities or for embedding drainage pipes and other elements:

  • Cement-based, high precision grouting products:
  • Epoxy resin-based, rapid hardening, high strength grouting products for use under dynamic loading:
Fixing of Road Components

Sika® FastFix® systems for road construction and maintenance works:

  • Fixing and bedding of manhole frames and mechanical joint hosing, concrete curb bedding and jointing, block paver and stone set pavement bedding and jointing: Sika® Patch M MY + Sikadur®-732
Rail Tracks

Rail fixing, damping and bedding solutions for all types of rail track systems to be installed on bridge decks:

  • Discrete fixing solutions: Sika® Icosit® KC 340/4 + Sika® Icosit® KC 330 Primer
  • Direct rail track fixing and bedding solutions: Sika® Icosit® KC 340/4 + Sika® Icosit® KC 330 Primer
Bridge balustrade fixed and fastened  with SikaGrout cementitious mortar

8. Steel Corrosion Protection

Structural steel is widely used around the world for the construction of bridges and bridge components including the superstructure, parapet railings, decks, and cables. The corrosion protection of this steel is essential to increase the durability and sustainability of the structure. Chlorides and condensed water can accelerate the steel corrosion process and must be kept away from the steel surfaces.

Sika provides a wide range of tested and approved steel protection systems based on the latest technologies and our long-term experience with steel coatings. Sika produces the most advance protective coating systems for bridges, designed to be selected in accordance with international standard EN ISO 12944, which ensures the defined service life to the first maintenance and the sustainability is assured.

Shop Application

Steel corrosion protection systems with fast curing two-component epoxy and polyurethane resin based coatings. Designed for shop application with the three layer application system buildup possible in a single day:

  • High-performance and long-term steel corrosion protection with the SikaCor® EG-Rapid System. Tested and approved in accordance with TL/TP-KOR page 97 and EN ISO 12944 part 5
Maintaining Existing Coatings

Protective coating systems for steel maintenance, designed for application on-site. Specifically formulated for use on nonblast cleaned surfaces, suitable for use on steel surfaces that are site prepared mechanically with power tools:

  • Sika® Poxicolor® Primer HE NEU followed by SikaCor® EG 120
  • Tested and approved in accordance with EN ISO 12944 part 5
Protecting Steel Bridge Cables

A unique protective coating system, specially designed for the protection of structural steel cables on cable-stayed bridge structures. The system includes flexible coatings and injection products for corrosion protection in steel cable anchors and connectors:

  • Sika® Cable System
  • Tested and approved in accordance with German Standard TL/TP-KOR “Seile”
Protecting Gravel Beds of Rail Bridges

Epoxy-urethane system, consisting of an appropriate substrate primer with Sika® Elastomastic® TF - tough, elastic, waterproof and mechanical resistant wearing layer. Approved and certified according to German regulation ZTV-ING part 4, section 3 for riveted and welded steel bridges with ballast.

Pure polyurea spray-applied system: Fast-curing pure polyurea membrane Sikalastic®-8800, tested in accordance with German regulation ZTV-ING part 4, section 3 for riveted and welded steel bridges with ballast. No need for protection of the coating with rubber mats.

Sika Solutions for Bridges

9. Structural Bonding

Structural adhesives are used for many bonding applications in new construction and refurbishment. The bond must allow the transfer of high loads without deformation and creep. The main function of structural adhesives is in the bonding of similar or dissimilar materials together (i.e. concrete to steel, steel to composites etc). Dependent on their design, structural adhesives can not only bond the elements together, but they can also fulfil additional functions such as waterproofing, sealing, concrete protection or even vibration dampening.

Sika has been a pioneer in the use of resin adhesives for structural bonding of precast concrete elements since the 1960’s. Sika’s epoxy adhesives have now been used to bond segmental bridge structures all around the world. This extensive experience has allowed the development of a wide range of additional structural bonding products and systems for unique applications. In the 1990’s Sika also introduced a complete range of cartridge applied resin anchoring adhesives for many different applications.

Segmental Bridge Adhesive (SBA)

Segmental bridges are built in short sections (called segments) one piece at a time, whereby traditional methods build a bridge in very large sections. Segmental bridges are made of precast concrete, which is manufactured at another location and then transported to the final location for placement within the complete structure. They are very economical for long spans (over 100 meters), especially when access to the construction site is restricted, and also allow for special design features to enhance the beauty of the structure.

  • Thixotropic, structural two-part adhesive specially formulated for segmental bridge construction:
Structural Bonding of Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC)
  • High mechanical strength and durability, no shrinkage, good chemical and fatigure resistance epoxy adhesive
Rigid Structural Bonding

Epoxy adhesives for bonding different elements or components to concrete, steel or bituminous substrate:

  • High-performance bonding of steel plates on to concrete:
  • Multi-purpose bonding such as precast concrete or natural stone curbs onto concrete or asphalt surfaces:
Chemical Anchoring

Special structural adhesives tested according to European or US-standards for anchoring all types of fittings and equipment to bridge structures, such as for the installation of cable trays or other services, crash barriers, drainage pipes, inspection access equipment, catch nets, reinforcing steel, and more.

  • ETA and AC approved, high performance, epoxy resin based, structural anchoring adhesive for installation of threaded rods and rebar even into damp substrates, including cracked concrete and seismic testing.
Steel Fixtures and Fittings

Special epoxy mortars for the bedding, bonding, and dry-packing of many different types of fixtures and fittings, including steel frames and parapet railings, etc.:

  • Three-component, non-shrink, epoxy resin-based mortars 
Sika Solutions for Bridges

See Some of Sika’s Past Bridge Projects