Most concrete damage happens during the winter months.
Freezing temperatures will not affect the concrete without the presence of moisture. Anything that limits the amount of water on or around the concrete will lengthen its service life. This is where sealers come to your concrete's rescue. The fall months (September or October typically) are the best months to apply sealers.
During the first winter you should not park vehicles on the new pavement
Snow and ice, along with de-icing chemicals collect in fender wells and drip onto the concrete. Parking vehicles in the garage, instead of on the driveway, will limit the chemical exposure to your driveway. Try to avoid hosing or shoveling the chemicals from the garage floor onto your driveway. A critical area is where the garage door closes, and the driveway starts. This small section is typically poured with the garage floor. The concrete used for the garage floor usually is a different make-up, lending itself to be harmed easier than the driveway. It receives a concentrated dose of water and ice causing freeze/thaw distress and may require a heavier coating of sealer. The apron of the drive, where it meets publicly de-iced streets, should also be watched carefully and may require a heavier coating of sealer.
Concrete poured late in the year after temperatures approach freezing temperatures needs special care.
Slabs poured in these temperatures typically will not receive proper curing or drying time and should be protected from car traffic, deicers and excessive water for the entire first winter.
It’s important to remove any water or snow immediately from your concrete.
The less water available to saturate the concrete and freeze, the less likely the concrete will be damaged.
- Direct the roof gutters and downspouts to channel water away from concrete surfaces.
- Shovel snow and ice from the surface before large accumulations form.
- Use care when plowing or shoveling your driveway. Use metal blades with caution to avoid scraping or scratching the surface .
Avoid using deicing chemicals.
Using deicers on your new or existing concrete driveway in the winter, even those labelled as “Safe to use on Concrete”, can cause surface damage—primarily scaling and spalling—by forcing the thawing, saturation, then refreezing of moisture. Products containing ammonium nitrates and ammonium sulphates are especially harmful because they will attack the concrete chemically. IF you decide that you must use deicers, at a minimum avoid their use for the first winter after driveway placement, since new concrete is more susceptible to the harmful effects of salt.
As an alternative, use sand for traction.