Winter weather can devastate your concrete driveway. Ice, snow, debris, deicers, and the freeze-thaw cycle can leave your garage floor with unsightly cracks that may need repairs when spring comes. However, you can avoid all this with these three tips.
Tips to protect your driveway from winter conditions
1. Apply sealant
oncrete is not entirely waterproof and usually contains pores and capillaries that can allow water to seep through. During warm weather, the water may soon evaporate, but things are quite different during winter. During periods of cold weather, temperatures are often below freezing point. Add this to the fact that your driveway is exposed to moisture from ice and snow.
When the water seeps through the concrete, the freeze and thaw cycle causes expansion and contraction, which can crack the concrete. It is therefore advisable to apply sealant at least twice a year, or just before winter and after winter, to prevent cracks from developing.
Applying sealant before winter prevents any damage that can result from the freeze-thaw cycle while applying a sealant after winter will help repair any cracked surfaces. You should also seal the whole driveway and not just the visible cracks. The sealant will prevent water and brine from seeping into the concrete and causing real damage.
2. Manually remove ice and snow
Removing snow after each snowfall can help minimize damage to your driveway, especially if you have stayed too long without applying sealant. Leaving the snow for too long turns it into ice, which can make your life even more difficult. The freeze and thaw cycle will continue to damage your concrete floor as long as there is ice or snow that is left unattended.
Shovel away using a plastic shovel instead of using ice melt. Using ice melt is the easier option, but most usually contain chloride, which is not so friendly to your plants and pets. Deicers can also seep into the concrete and cause cracks when they freeze and melt as well as cause corrosion. Shoveling might take a long time, but it is better than using chemicals, which will later cost you a smooth driveway.
3. Protect fresh concrete
Finishing concrete during cold weather can be a bit challenging. It will take forever to dry, and even when it does dry, there may still be some residual water called concrete bleed that may be slowly damaging the finished product.
Concrete generates its own heat, but this is not enough to assure proper drying and settling especially during cold weather. Adding some insulating blankets keeps everything warm, and when you combine the heat from the concrete with ground heat, you get excellent results. The blankets trap heat, allowing the concrete to mature until it can be left on its own.
Ensure that all the bleed water evaporates. As the concrete particles settle, they squeeze out extra water, and this is what is referred to as bleed water. If the water is not removed, you will have a high water-to-cement ratio, which can weaken your surface. To keep everything normal, give the surface enough time to completely settle or go for squeegees or vacuums to get the water out.
Is it too late to winterize?
If the cold temperatures have already set in and you feel unprepared, there is still hope for protecting your driveway. You can still apply a sealant to protect your driveway, but this time, you will do it a bit differently.
The first thing to note is that temperature acts as a catalyst when curing sealant. When temperatures dip below a certain point (usually 50 degrees), the sealant takes longer to cure, and may not even cure properly. The result is that cross-linking fails to occur correctly, and put simply, your concrete floor is not properly protected from the harsh weather. Additionally, you will incur other costs in the future when you have to remove the sealant and apply a new layer.
To avoid this hassle, choose your cold weather sealant wisely. Choose brands based on a faster solvent to quicken the curing process. Experts recommend using acetone instead of a water-based solvent, since acetone is a faster solvent compared to the latter. Additionally, spray instead of rolling to get an even coat that cures faster. Do not be afraid of protecting your driveway just because you think it is too late.
What about the garage?
Your garage needs the same dose of love if the concrete floor is to survive the winter and remain fully intact. To winterize the garage, start by cleaning and repairing any damaged areas to prevent further damage. Sealing is also not reserved for the driveway alone but also the garage. After all, your car is likely to track snow and other chemicals, which can damage the floor.
You can also add some garage floor containment mats to protect the surface. These mats are usually highly durable and will collect all kinds of unwanted moisture, allowing your garage floor to remain dry at all times.
For more information
Winterizing does not have a time limit, but when done in advance, it can save you a lot of headaches. These three tips will give your driveway the protection you need. If you need floor protection services, contact Razorback Concrete at (870) 455-0700.