If you've just had new concrete poured as a patio, walkway, or driveway, you'll need to make sure you take the right steps to properly care for the new concrete to prevent common damage and extend life and usability. Here are some common mistakes that homeowners make that inadvertently causes premature damage to newly-installed concrete.
1. Using de-icing chemicals.
Road salt and other de-icing agents are one of the easiest ways to ameliorate slick walkways during winter. However, salts are extremely damaging to concrete. Salt creates a slightly acidic film on the on surface of the concrete, which begins to break down cement paste in the aggregate compound. Concrete is naturally porous, but salt increases the porous nature as the acid works, allowing more water to penetrate the block. As water freezes and thaws within the concrete itself, the internal structure begins to weaken. New concrete is especially vulnerable to this type of damage.
Salt is also water-loving — it brings more water into the concrete than would normally pass through. The freeze-thaw cycle is even more pronounced, and you'll see the surface of the concrete begin to flake and chip as a result of the increased pressure from salt water. Instead of using salt-based de-icers, shovel snow off the concrete promptly. When ice storms occur, prevent slips and falls by spreading cat litter or wood chips over the slick surface.
2. Leaving it be.
Once the concrete is poured, the hard part is over — the concrete is smooth and perfect, just waiting for your activities. But, concrete is not a material that does well with neglect. It's important to stay on top of keeping it sealed. New sealant should be applied as wear begins to show on the finish of the concrete. It's a good idea to seal new concrete before the first and second winters of its lifetime. Also, care should be taken to routinely brush off fallen leaves and stains. Leaves stain concrete as they fall, and they release tannic acid, which can damage the finish and surface strength of the concrete. Simple maintenance goes a long way in extending concrete life.
3. Being too hard on the concrete.
People are often mistaken when they think that concrete is hard enough to put up with all kinds of abuse. While extremely durable, this material can still be damaged by excessive force and carelessness. Try to avoid using metal tools to scratch or chip ice from the surface. It can make surface pitting worse and damage the sealed layer. You should try to refrain from parking heavy-duty vehicles (tractors, forklifts, etc.) on your concrete. Commercial paving is suited for holding the weight of these vehicles, but your driveway can actually crack under the pressure.
For more information, contact local professionals like GaitlinByrd Cement.