In Canada we get some very cold temperatures in the winter, and this year is no exception. The harsh winter weather can be very harmful to concrete surfaces if they aren’t properly maintained and protected. With the constant repeat freezing and thawing that occurs during the cold winter months, concrete surfaces can begin to flake and crack.
If you’re looking to ensure that your concrete survives this winter, and many more to come, you’re at the right place. Below is the complete winter concrete guide with our best concrete care tips to keep your surfaces safe all winter long.
3 Steps To Protecting Concrete from Winter Weather
While concrete does have a solid appearance, it’s a very porous material. Without the help of a microscope, it’s difficult for you to see the numerous holes and pours that make up a slab of concrete. All of these nearly invisible holes in the concrete means that whenever it snows, hills, or rains, waters able to penetrate the surface of the concrete.
When water freezes, it expands by 9%. To better visualize this, imagine how ice cubes expand past level you fill them up with water at and you’ll have a better understanding of how water acts differently when it’s frozen inside of the concrete. As temperatures drop and the ground begins to freeze, water that’s trapped inside of a piece of concrete also freezes.
As the water in the concrete freezes, it expands, which puts pressure on the concrete slab from within. This causes the structural integrity of the concrete to become compromised, which ends up leading to your concrete becoming damaged.
When temperatures begin to rise again in the water inside of the concrete slab starts to melt, you may notice that your concrete begins to crack and flake. As these thawing and freezing cycles circulate throughout the cold winter months, there is an increase in the amount of damage that your concrete experiences as the structural integrity keep being put under pressure due to the freezing of ice.
Step 1: Patch Up and Repair Cracks & Other Damages
Are there any concrete slabs around you that are beginning to show signs of damage? If you notice any cracks in any concrete surfaces, the best way to prevent further damage from spreading to surrounding concrete is to patch and repair the cracks.
To work toward stopping the progression of the concrete cracking, the first step that you should take is to fill the cracks with a flexible sealant. When you apply a flexible sealant, it creates a watertight bond with the surface of the concrete that should also visually blend in with the surrounding area.
As this flexible ceiling dries, it’ll maintain a level of flexibility and won’t pull away from the surrounding side of the crack. This means even as the weather warms up again, and the concrete begins to expand or contract further, the sealant will be able to move with the fluctuation of the concrete.
However, if you have a concrete slab that has extensive damage, such as numerous large cracks or an uneven surface, you should consult a professional concrete repair company. They’ll help you to ensure the stability of the concrete slab before you begin to make any repairs to the concrete.
Step 2: Seal Any Concrete Surfaces
By sealing any concrete services that you’re looking to protect during the harsh winter months, you’ll help to ensure that there isn’t any damage caused by ice or snow. You need to seal any concrete surfaces before it begins to snow or ice over during the night, as this will prevent any moisture from soaking into the concrete surface and weakening it when temperatures are at a freezing point.
If you’ve already repaired your concrete, or it doesn’t need to be repaired at all, you can use an acrylic sealer to protect your concrete from cold temperatures.
Step 3: Avoid Pouring Salt on Concrete
While salt is not chemically reactive with concrete, it actually can attract moisture to the surface of your concrete. This means that the corrosion caused by the salt can affect the rebar of the concrete underneath the surface layer, which increases the possibility of your concrete developing cracks and flaking.
Plus, salt doesn’t stop the freezing and thawing process of moisture in your concrete slab. As water freezes, thaws, and begins to re-freeze on your concrete cut, the extra addition of salt can increase the level of stress that I put on the pores inside of your concrete.
What should you do to replace using salt on your concrete services during the cold winter months? The first step that you should always take is to shovel off as much ice and snow on the areas that you’re walking to keep ice collection at a minimum once temperatures are at freezing. A safer alternative to use is gravel or sand to make ice less slippery.