Autumn is here, which means winter is just around the corner. Summer is hard on your concrete driveway and paths, but winter brings its own set of challenges. Frost and moisture can combine to ruin your concrete driveways and paths, and you need to start preparing if you want them to last.
Follow these tips to help your driveways and paths make it through Melbourne’s winter months:
Inspect Your Concrete Pavements
Over summer, heat may have caused cracks in your concrete pavements. You should thoroughly inspect your concrete pavements to check for cracks, as these need to be sealed before the temperature drops too much. Any chips or cracks can expose the entire slab to damage, and that damage can quickly spread. While undertaking your inspection, make sure you take photos, so you can make comparisons when you conduct the same check next year.
If your concrete has been poured correctly, you only need to seal it every ten years. However, if it is older than ten years, or if it has been damaged, you will need to seal it before winter sets in. Your local concrete supplier can suggest the best product for you.
You can read our guide on sealing concrete for more information.
Do You Live in an Icy Area?
An icy driveway is dangerous for your family or your car; ice can sit and melt through the concrete, allowing moisture inside the mix. This causes the concrete to expand and create cracks. If you live in an area prone to frost and ice, you should consider using an ice-melt on your driveway. Just make sure you choose one that is calcium-based, or the product itself could damage your concrete.
Make Sure Your Driveway and Paths Have Been Swept
If you need to seal and prime your concrete pavements, you need to make sure that your driveway and paths are completely clean. If you seal over any debris, not only will the debris become trapped under the sealer, it could also create porosity which will let moisture and frost into the concrete. So, make sure you give your paths a good sweep.
Whether or not you are sealing your concrete pavements, you should give them a pressure clean in the lead up to winter. Your paths and driveways will have received a lot of traffic over summer, and this, combined with the dry climate, means they will also be dusty. The summer heat would have baked this dirt onto the pavements, so you need a bit of power to remove it.
A clean concrete pavement handles frost and rain better than a dirty concrete pavement, so borrow or hire a pressure cleaner and get your concrete pavement back to its’ beautiful best.
Be Careful with Your Concrete
Cracking of your concrete pavements, over the winter months, needs to be avoided. This means being careful with what you do around your pavements. You should avoid using any shovels or thick-bristled brooms around your pavements, as these could both create cracks. You should also make sure that pebbles or debris don’t remain on paths, as the crunch of a foot on a rock could quickly make a crack.
Check Your Drainage
The most important thing you can do for your concrete paths and driveways, over summer, is to make sure they have adequate drainage. Water sitting on your concrete pavements is a recipe for disaster and the longer it sits there, the greater the chance that it will seep through the cracks and cause expansion in the concrete.
If your concrete doesn’t have good drainage, it’s best to contact a contractor and ask them to come and check the slab, and perhaps cut some joints in it that will direct water to an appropriate area. You can also create your own drainage by digging trenches next to concrete pavements, in order to drain any surface water away as soon as possible.
Pouring Concrete in Winter
There is a fine art to pouring concrete during cold weather. Concrete needs to dry, and this obviously takes longer during winter. The extended drying period creates a greater risk for the development of imperfections. Unless you’re confident in your screeding abilities, you should hire a professional if you need any concrete poured during winter.
While hiring a professional may cost more initially, at least you will have ‘peace of mind’ that your concrete pavement will not need replacing.