Winter in the Midwest is an extremely dangerous season for concrete driveways, walks, patios and other decorative and expensive elements of home design. Despite being an extremely durable building material, concrete is not indestructible. In fact, in winter concrete is extremely vulnerable to both the freeze/thaw cycle and the threat of salt. It’s vital to invest in cold weather concrete protection by treating concrete installations with a high quality concrete sealer before Mother Nature has a chance to wreak havoc on them.
Despite its solid appearance, concrete actually contains a complex system of pores and tributaries which allow water to seep in. During warmer seasons and in parts of the country with milder climates, this is not an issue as the water soon evaporates or soaks through. However, in areas where the temperatures dip below 32 degrees, this trapped water freezes and expands causing the concrete to crack. Then, when it thaws, the concrete cracks more. This freeze/thaw cycle causes increased cracking and crumbling and ultimately compromises and can destroy the structural integrity of the concrete.
A good, professionally applied concrete sealer can provide cold weather concrete protection by forming a hard barrier to keep water out. Types of sealers include: Acrylic, epoxy, polyurethane, penetrating and polyaspartic.
Taking steps toward cold weather concrete protection can’t wait until winter though. Concrete sealers, like house paint, need to be applied before winter strikes. Most sealers need a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit before and after application to set and function properly. Additionally, the concrete itself must be at least that temperature. Sealers applied in colder temperatures might take on a hazy appearance and fail to protect as they should.
Untreated concrete is susceptible to pitting, spalling, dusting, efflorescence, and cracking. Concrete treated with a high quality sealer that fills concrete’s deepest pores and capillaries and protects against water, salt and other minerals will continue to look beautiful and last longer.
Concrete sealing is not a job for weekend warriors and should be left to contractors and other building professionals.