Concrete is a very durable product, however, proper care is required to ensure longevity. Deicers are harmful especially the first winter. To avoid surface scaling, discolouration or deterioration; here are a few driveway maintenance tips for your concrete surfaces.
These chemicals are often packaged and sold as deicers, but they will rapidly disintegrate concrete. Common garden fertilizers containing these two chemicals, or urea, may cause a chemical reaction which will cause disintegration as well. Pellet fertilizers should be swept from concrete slabs before dissolving. Never use fertilizers for deicing purposes, and always check the labels for ingredients.
Water-repellent coatings and sealers can help prevent damage from freeze/thaw cycles. These sealers keep water from getting into the surface pores. They should be applied after the initial finishing and air drying period. It should then be reapplied every two to three years. Deicers which contain sodium chloride (common salt) or calcium chloride may be used after the first winter if a surface sealer has been applied in the fall. Check with your ready-mix supplier or construction accessories supply stores for sealer recommendations.
Concrete takes approximately 28-56 days (depending on the temperature and when the concrete is placed) to reach its maximum strength, and needs to be properly cured. While some deicers, such as salt, do not chemically react with the concrete, they are “hydroscopic” which means they attract and maintain the presence of water and increase the number of freeze/thaw cycles the concrete must go through. This has the potential of damaging the surface of the concrete and/or causing discolouration.
Sand is the safest material to use to make a concrete surface skid-resistant. Sand can be purchased at several locations, including your local ready-mix concrete supplier or local hardware stores. Kitty litter, while more expensive, is another safe option.
At no time are we or anyone associated with Pro Pavement Services Ltd. implying that use of salt and deicers are safe or beneficial for concrete. We understand that in some cases ice melt is required for safety, and it is for these examples that the above guidelines are implemented. It is our opinion that salt and ice melt are harmful to not only concrete, but the environment, and should be used sparingly. Contact us today for more information about winter concrete maintenance.