Proper Winter Care

Warning! You wouldn’t use a strong caustic soap to clean your wall-to-wall carpet. Nor would you use acid to clean your kitchen or bathroom fixtures. In fact, most people are very careful about how they clean and take care of the inside of their home. Yet, what about the outside concrete walks, patios, driveways, porches, and steps. While concrete is the most durable product available for your home, proper care is a requirement for long-lasting beauty and wear. One of the most damaging things to a new concrete surface is the use of deicers – especially the first winter. Here are a few tips to properly care for your exterior concrete.

1. Avoid Using Deicers the First Year.
• Concrete takes a while to reach its maximum strength. While some deicers, such as salt, do not chemically react with the concrete, they do increase the number of freeze/thaw cycles the concrete must go through. This has the potential of damaging the concrete until it has reached its maximum strength.

2. Use Sand Anytime.
• The only safe material to use to make the concrete surface skid resistant is plain sand. This can be purchased at several locations, frequently at the ready mixed concrete supplier in your area.

3. Don’t Use Deicers With Ammonium Nitrate or Ammonium Sulfate.
• Never use deicers containing ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate. 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 disintegration as well.

4. Use a Sealer.
• Under usual conditions, deicers which contain sodium chloride (common salt) or calcium chloride may be used after the first winter. Even so, caution is needed. It is important that a surface sealer be applied after finishing. Check with your ready-mix supplier or contractor for sealers.