A concrete driveway is meant to last a very long time, but exposure to snow, ice, and freezing temperatures can cause your concrete to break down prematurely. Not preparing your driveway for extreme weather is a recipe for serious damage.
To avoid costly, time-consuming repairs, a little preparation is needed to keep your concrete looking great and remaining structurally sound. Fortunately, you still have time this winter season to winterize it.
Here are the steps you’ll need to take to prepare your driveway before winter hits.
Your Concrete Winterizing Checklist
Invest in the Right Equipment
Before cold weather arrives, it’s a smart idea to make sure you have the right tools to care for your concrete driveway. Locate your equipment and examine its condition. If necessary, purchase a new, high-quality snow shovel.
Note: The right equipment is essential for protecting your concrete. Plastic shovels are gentler than metal, which can scrape and mar a beautiful driveway. Invest in a sturdy plastic shovel, as well as a reliable push broom to tackle wintry precipitation.
Sweep and Clean the Concrete Surface
During fall and winter, cold and windy weather can deposit fallen branches, leaves, and other debris on your concrete. This can cause damage, but it can also hide damage like potholes that you don’t realize are there until your vehicle hits them.
Use a gentle broom, rake, or leaf blower to clear away debris. Then spray down your concrete with a hose or pressure washer (check the instructions for the right setting!). This will loosen up dirt and grime and help remove any recent stains. Some stains will need extra care with chemical stain removers.
Once you’ve swept thoroughly and removed any possible stains, you’ll be able to clearly see any cracks, spalling, or other issues that need to be repaired.
Look for Driveway Damage
Visible cracks in your driveway mean that it’s much more susceptible to additional damage from water and ice during the winter. Any crack that allows rain and melting snow to seep underneath puts pressure on your driveway because when it freezes, it expands and causes the concrete to shift. Taking care of the cracks today will help avoid this.
If holes and cracks are minor, you may be able to address it yourself with a concrete repair product. But it is a good idea to have a seasoned, certified contractor evaluate any damaged areas to see if your concrete needs to be replaced, so that you get the longest life out of your driveway. Whether you do it yourself or have a professional assist you, when crack repairs are done right, your driveway will be well prepared to withstand extreme winter weather.
Check Drainage Issues
Poor drainage from a sloping driveway allows rain and melted snow to pool. When this happens during winter months, puddles turn into icy patches that can lead to dangerous skids, slips, and falls. Drainage issues on or around a driveway left unaddressed can not only lead to serious injury, but also continued damage to the concrete, lessening the value you get from it.
One option to address this issue is to install a trench drain that intercepts water as it flows toward the low area. Or, a local concrete professional can provide leveling repairs, making your surface even and filling sunken areas to prevent water from pooling in the future.
Apply a Concrete Sealant
A protective coating applied to concrete can help waterproof the surface, resist staining, and prevent small cracks and holes from forming. A good sealant will fill tiny cracks and help prevent damages that happens during cold weather.
This step can be performed on your own or with help of concrete professionals like our team. If you’ve never given your driveway a protective coat with a driveway sealant, you’ll want to check the weather report first. Depending on the product you use, you’ll need two to three days of dry weather to allow the sealant to set properly.
You’ll also want to be sure to choose a product specifically designed for concrete surfaces. Read labels carefully to verify the product you choose is not too harsh, as some chemicals can damage concrete.
Stock Up on Concrete-Safe Ice Melt
De-icing chemicals are useful for keeping icy walkways and driveways safe, but they can also be quite hard on a concrete surface. Choosing the right ice treatment product—one that’s safe for concrete—is vital!
Solutions made with potassium chloride or magnesium calcium acetate are preferred over rock salt because they are gentler. By comparison, salt products can mar your driveway. For an even more gentle approach, sprinkle sand or kitty litter instead of chemicals. These options won’t melt the ice, but they will make it easier to walk to and from your vehicle without slipping.
Learn more here about how to safely treat icy concrete surfaces without doing damage.
Remove Driveway Snow
After a winter storm, it’s important to shovel accumulated snow off the driveway as soon as possible. Quickly clearing snow away is just as important, if not more so than the previous points mentioned, because it prevents melting snow from affecting your driveway. This avoids much of the damage to concrete associated with freezing and thawing ice.
If it isn’t possible for you or a family member to remove snow right away, it may be worth your safety and the longevity of your concrete driveway to hire a local professional snow remover to take care of it for you.
Keep Your Concrete Beautiful with Professional Maintenance
As you care for your driveway this winter, you may notice areas of your concrete that need some additional TLC. Our expert, detail-focused team at R&M Concrete is here to assist you. We’ll provide a complete assessment and concrete repair and replacement services that keep your driveway and other surfaces in beautiful, lasting shape. Reach out for a consultation today.