How to Maintain Your Concrete Driveway
How to Maintain Your Concrete Driveway
Your concrete sidewalks, driveways, patios, and other outdoor concrete surfaces are extremely durable. One of the best attributes of a decorative concrete driveway is how little maintenance and routine care it will need over its lifetime. But no driveway paving material—including concrete—is truly maintenance-free. Here are some tips for preserving the life and appearance of your investment.
Clean and reapply sealer as needed.
Cleaning your concrete driveway on occasion and keeping it sealed are the best measures you can take to keep it looking its best. How often you clean and reseal will depend on the weather conditions the concrete is exposed to and the amount of vehicle traffic it receives. Generally, you should reseal a concrete driveway every one to two years, or when the finish begins to show wear.
A quality sealer should be applied to the new concrete before first winter.
The fall months (September or October typically) are the best months to apply sealers, although some sealers can actually be used down to 20° F. The concrete should be dry, and the sealer can either be applied with a paint roller or sprayed with an approved pump sprayer (check sprayer directions for restrictions). This sealer coat should be in addition to the cure and seal applied by the contractor at the time the concrete is poured. The presence of a surface sealer before the onset of the first winter weather will minimize the amount of moisture that penetrates the concrete minimizing the likelihood of freeze damage when your concrete is new and most vulnerable.
Resealing your new concrete before the start of the second winter after it is poured is recommended. This application helps get your concrete through its most vulnerable time. After this second application you can get by recoating every other year, depending on the wear and conditions.
Remove stains immediately
While a sealer will help to protect concrete from stain absorption, it's still a good idea to remove oil, gasoline, grease and other spills as soon as possible. If the concrete does discolor, pressure- washing and certain cleaning chemicals will remove most stains. You can find methods and products for stain removal online by searching “Concrete Stain Removal”.
Avoid using deicing chemicals.
Using deicers on your concrete driveway in the winter can cause surface damage—primarily scaling and spalling—by forcing the thawing and refreezing of moisture. Products containing ammonium nitrates and ammonium sulphates are especially harmful because they will attack the concrete chemically. At a minimum, avoid the use of any deicers 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.
AVOID these De-icing Salts
- Sodium chloride (“rock salt”): The most common deicing salt, rock salt releases the highest amount of chloride when it dissolves, which can damage concrete and metal, as well as pollute nearby water sources.
- Calcium chloride: will chemically attack your concrete as well as your cause skin irritation on your hands if they are moist when you handle it.
- De-icers containing ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate are the worst! These products are commercial fertilizers that have been packaged and sold as de-icers. They will attack your concrete physically as well as chemically. Read tech package label carefully! They melt ice and snow, but will also rapidly disintegrate your concrete.
- Chemicals used for lawn care, (as described above), must not be allowed to come into contact with your concrete!
- Magnesium chloride: Releases 40% less chloride into the environment than rock salt or calcium chloride, is far less damaging to concrete and plants, and continues to melt snow and ice until the temperature reaches -13 F.
Treat it with care.
Although concrete is one of the most durable paving materials for driveway construction, the typical residential driveway isn't engineered to support heavy vehicles (like a huge moving van) and large construction equipment. Also use care when plowing or shoveling your driveway. Avoid the use of metal blades that might scrape or scratch the surface.