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What Not to do With Concrete

What not to do with concrete driveways and sidewalks during winter.

I just moved to Prescott from Nevada and have had conversations with many of my neighbors about winter and deicing of concrete driveways and sidewalks.  I have been told it is ok to use rock salt, I have been told to use sand, I have been told to do nothing.  As our local contractor organization and representatives, what do you folks recommend?  

We all think of concrete as being strong and durable but with winter on the way and more often than not because of homeowner wrong doings, problems occur with our driveways and sidewalks and we find that concrete is not indestructible.  Concrete and winter do not go hand in hand and as homeowners we need to take precautions.  Brian Peterson of Diversified Concrete Crafters gave us some pointers on what homeowners should and should not do to their concrete during our winter months.

The first “should not” is not use rock salt as a de-icing agent.  If at all possible snow should be removed from concrete surfaces as soon as possible to prohibit the freeze/thaw cycle from occurring.  Concrete is very porous and when rock salt is distributed over concrete to melt the ice, the “salt water” soaks into the concrete and with the recurring freezing, the rock salt water attacks the concrete chemically and surface damage can and will occur.  We have many driveways and sidewalks in our area where surface damage has occurred, primarily scaling and spelling.  Rock salt is an enemy of concrete.

A “should” would be to remove the snow and ice as soon as possible.  As a concrete expert, Brian with a smile said the best de-icing agent any homeowner can use is a shovel.  The freeze/thaw cycle of snow on concrete causes damage and deterioration over time.  Do not pile the snow in a shady area – it should be removed as soon as possible and allowed to melt and not saturate into the concrete.  Now we know this is not possible for many of our homeowners so the next best de-icing alternative is sand.  Although sand is not considered a de-icing agent, it gives our driveways and sidewalks traction and reduces the slipperiness and can make removal easier and again, the snow and ice should be removed as quickly as possible.  

Be wary of using de-icing agents that have compounds such as sodium chloride and calcium chloride.  One of the best de-icing agents to use besides the shovel would be calcium magnesium acetate.  

If you insist on using any de-icing agent, it is important to check product labels to ensure that they are non-toxic to pets, plants, and will not harm or cause corrosion to any metal.

After winter it would be advantageous to consider sealing your concrete with a penetrating sealer, which would act as a protective coating and add to the longevity of your concrete.  There are many sealers on the market and Brian is an advocate of sealing concrete.  “Sealing concrete will extend the life of the concrete and be a major deterrent for winter spelling and scaling”.

Phone: (928) 778-0040


810 E. Sheldon Street, Prescott, AZ 86301

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