Newly installed concrete requires no special care to allow for decades of serviceable performance. However, natural and man caused influence will alter the appearance and performance and speed up the natural degradation.
Cracking – Cracking is caused primarily by two influences, freeze/thaw of the ground beneath the concrete, as well as traffic on the surface of the concrete.
Control and prevention of cracking – Your concrete will crack. Upon installation cracking was planned for and directed to occur at planned control joints on the surface of your concrete. They are the lines created either by tooled joints or saw cut joints. The forces causing cracking typically occur at these joints first rather than randomly. Protection against cracking can also be influenced by controlling traffic on the concrete. Heavy loads, heavy uneven loads and loads near the edge of the concrete can cause cracking outside the control joints. Concrete is most vulnerable to cracking from traffic loads during the period of time that the ground is thawing and draining beneath the concrete. However, cracking can occur at any time and any place on the concrete regardless of precautions.
Spalling, pitting and chipping – Freeze and thaw of water on the surface of the concrete degrades the surface of concrete. The amount of moisture and the frequency of freeze thaw determines the rate of degradation. Ice control chemicals also degrade the concrete surface.
Control and prevention of concrete surface degradation
- Remove snow from your concrete as soon as possible and as completely as possible. Less snow melt = less moisture on the surface and less ice to control.
- Salt and all ice control products will speed up the degradation of your concrete. The chemicals harm the surface and cause melting which ultimately increases the potential for future freezing which in turn causes the need for more chemicals. Parking a vehicle on concrete that drips salt and melted snow on the concrete has the identical effect as applying the chemicals directly. When applying ice melting chemicals you must understand the trade-off between quantity and frequency of application against the life span of your concrete. For that reason the only ice melting product, we can recommend is Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) which causes the least amount of damage of any product.
- Sand can be used at any time for traction control without adverse effects to the concrete. When using ice control chemicals, calcium chloride is the recommended product over other choices.
- Application of a penetrating sealer for concrete can be applied at any time on clean, dry concrete to help slow the effects of freeze/thaw cycles. Sealers are not a remedy for heavy or frequent ice melt chemical applications.
Brick and Stone Paving Care
In many ways care of your new brick or stone patio or walkway is similar to concrete with some specific differences. Like concrete, application of ice control products like salt may cause surface degradation. Clay and concrete brick pavers both can handle some moderate applications of safer salts like Calcium chloride, but in general try to avoid it. Never utilize ice control on bluestone or limestone as it will cause delamination of the stone causing it to “shale” apart. Snow removal should be done with a plastic edge shovel, rather than a metal edge. Snow blowing of the surfaces is generally fine, but be aware if your snow blower has a metal skid on it that may etch a softer stone materials if drug repeated across it. A majority of all our dryset paving has polymeric sand swept into the joints and activated. Polymeric sand has the advantage of being somewhat flexible and allows some exchange of water and gases through it. Typically in wetter, cooler periods it will be in the more flexible state while in the hotter, drier periods it will almost be like mortar. In shadier areas, the polymeric sand will stay longer in the flexible state and can more easily be damaged by over zealous pressure washers or spilling water from overhangings or gutters. In those cases, repair and reapplication may be needed somewhat over time.