The cold months in Australia are more forgiving than overseas, but winter concrete maintenance is no less important. Concrete is a durable and strong paving choice for homeowners for driveways, patios and more. But while general maintenance is low, concrete surfaces still require a bit of care to look their best. This is particularly true during the harsh weather in Winter.
Heavy rains and ice can be particularly damaging to concrete. Freezing cold water sinks into the tiny pores on the surface, where it expands into ice. This creates cracks, discolouring and corrosion – all of which can be difficult and costly to repair. It can leave your concrete driveway or paved area fragile and uneven, making it difficult to drive over (or look at, for that matter).
With the right winter concrete maintenance, however, you can keep your concrete driveway looking sharp and new for years to come. Here are some tips for looking after it over winter so you can enjoy it year-round.
Seal it Before Winter
Concrete sealers are used to protect concrete surfaces from staining, corrosion and damage. These products block those tiny pores in your concrete, which stop them absorbing water and freezing. Anyone wanting to take care of their concrete should seal their surfaces at least once every two years with a high-quality sealer. The catch here is you need to do it before Winter starts so your driveway or concrete surface is well prepared for the weather to come.
Clean Stains Immediately
A high-quality sealer will provide good coverage for your concrete, but that doesn’t mean you should let it do all the work. Liquids get trapped inside concrete easier during the cold months. It’s therefore vital that you clean up any nasty spills of harmful chemicals straight away, if they happen. This includes oil, petrol, grease and other chemical spills with the potential to leave marks. You might be cursing in the rain at the time, but you’ll be thankful for it later.
Avoid De-icing Products
There are plenty of de-icing products on the market that stop slipping and sliding on surfaces. Should you use them? No. Most of these are not recommended for use on concrete. They have the potential to do more harm than good, especially during Winter. If you start noticing the effects of ice on your driveway, avoid these products and try applying sand (or even cat litter) for traction instead.
Treat It With Care
Concrete is a strong surface but most residential driveways aren’t built to support much weight. Heavy vehicles like trucks and large construction equipment creates devastating pressure which cause cracks and other damage over time. Because of the damage ice can do to your concrete, in Winter this effect is multiplied. Stacking big loads on the surface greatly increases your chances of cracking and spalling. The best defence is offence here – be mindful of vehicles going on your driveway as well as liquids and chemicals.
Keep Your Concrete Clean
Routine concrete maintenance like general cleaning will extend the life of concrete surfaces by many years. Gusting winds in Winter can blow all sorts of debris over it like soil, grass, leaves and stray branches. You don’t have to run outside with a broom every time this happens, but keep an eye on it and if you get the chance, give it a quick clean. Water streaming from gutters straight on concrete in cold weather is also one to watch out for – if you see it happening, direct it away to avoid freezing water from wreaking its havoc.
Use Plastic Shovels & Tools
A secret to Winter concrete maintenance many homeowners fail to consider is their use of tools. Reaching for a plastic shovel over a metal one will minimise scratches and cuts to your driveway. Concrete is more vulnerable over this period so remember this if you’re outside working on something nearby. Alternatively, if you have a project to be completed over Winter, call in concrete experts or a contractor to take care of it safely for you.
If you follow these tips, you can relax inside with a warm mug by the fire knowing your driveway is looking it’s best. It will continue to add value and plenty of curb appeal to your home for longer. If you want to find out more about concrete maintenance or a new concrete surface, get in touch with us today.