Winter Driveway Care
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, discoloration or deterioration; here are a few tips for your residential concrete surfaces.
Don’t Use Salt or other Deicers during the First Winter.
Concrete takes approx. 28-56 days (pending 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” 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 discoloration.
DO Use Sand Anytime.
Sand is the “truly” safe material to use to make the concrete surface skid resistant is plain sand. This can be purchases at several locations, frequently at the ready mixed concrete supplier in your area or local hardware stores. Kitty litter, while more expensive, is another safe option.
DON’T Use Deicers With Ammonium Nitrate or Ammonium Sulfate.
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. (* Always check the labels for ingredients *)
DO Use a Surface Sealer.
Water repellant 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” & “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.