Designers often specify the use of distributed steel (welded wire fabric or small-diameter reinforcing bars) in the upper half of concrete floors on ground. It's used to prevent random cracks from widening. Although it's almost impossible to shut down an experienced, determined cheater, knowing a little about their motivation and methods can go a long way toward reducing cheating.


To understand the temptation to cheat, all you have to do is look at the profit potential on a typical project. The dishonest installer usually bids low to get the contract. He decides he can cut corners and perhaps even get by with substituting a cheaper material without authorization. The outrageously high profit margin is worth the risks for the dishonest installer.


The cheaters primary goals are to reduce labor and material costs. By raking just the top 1/2 inch of the cut and leaving up to 3/4 inch of residue such as saw laitance and debris in the joint, the dishonest installer reduces his preparation costs by 50 %. He now needs approximately half of the epoxy filler originally called for in the contract. Another easy way for him to cut material costs is to substitute a cheaper epoxy, a trick that's especially easy if the dishonest installer works at night.


Although it's important to accept the fact that you can't eliminate cheating--especially if the installer is determined and experience--a little common sense can go a long way toward reducing the problem. A list of common cheating techniques is provided to help increase awareness of these devious tactics.