Concrete Care

Thank you for selecting B & W Concrete Services to meet your concrete needs.  We pride ourselves in providing the highest quality product to our customers.  After our work is complete, we are also committed to helping you maintain the quality of your investment.  We have put together the following information to help our customers become more knowledgeable about their new concrete and advise them on how to properly maintain and protect it.

Much like any material exposed to the outdoor elements, concrete requires proper care in terms of protection and maintenance.  The suns UV rays, rain, snow, freezing temperatures, de-icing products, oil, gas, fertilizers & other chemicals all combine to produce wear & tear on your concrete surfaces.  Snow, ice and de-icing products can have damaging effects on your new exterior flatwork.  Any exterior concrete less than one year old is particularly at high risk.  Proper care and maintenance of driveways, patios sidewalks, porches and garage floors is essential during the first cold weather season to minimize any damage to the finished surfaces.  See the tips below, which are our recommended guidelines to follow for proper maintenance of your new concrete.

What’s the Deal with Cracks?

One of the common complaints about concrete is that it cracks.  Cracks in poured concrete walls and flatwork can be unsightly, but are usually not a cause for concern.   In fact, they are a common occurrence.  Cracks in concrete are not indicative of inferior materials or workmanship.  They are a result of shrinkage that occurs when concrete hardens and cures.  They can be minimized and often controlled, but not eliminated.  For a more detailed explanation of cracking please read the following article & flyer produced by the Concrete Foundations Association (CFA).

Winters Effects & Damage

Freeze/thaw cycles in the Midwest cause the most damage to exterior concrete flatwork.  Concrete is a very porous material that will absorb moisture.  When the absorbed moisture in concrete freezes, it exerts tremendous expansive force, which weakens the concrete and sometimes leads to the surface scaling off or popping loose.   The more freeze/thaw cycles we have over a winter the more the surface is weakened, leaving the concrete open to showing more damage and deterioration.  Concrete less than 1 year old is particularly at risk to more damage from these cycles.  Please follow our recommended guidelines below to give your concrete the most protection from our winters.       

The Facts about De-icing Products

De-icing products can be composed of a variety of different chemicals which are known to aggressively attack the surface.  These include ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, and magnesium chloride.  State, county and municipal street departments have been known to use magnesium chloride based de-icing products in the past and this practice alone can leave your concrete open to attack from snow and water drippings if you park on the driveway.   
Chemical interaction isn’t where de-icing products case the most damage.  These products cause the greatest harm by increasing the number of freeze/thaw cycles experienced by flatwork over the cold season.  This amplifies the weakening effects at the surface caused by the freezing moisture.  This only increases your risk of the surface showing damage.  We recommend never using de-icing products for these reasons.  

Exterior Flatwork Protection & Maintenance Tips

The following is a list of steps that can and should be taken to protect driveways, sidewalks, and other exterior concrete flatwork:

  • Don’t drive on your new concrete for a minimum of 7 days  
  • Don’t allow water to undermine a concrete slab. This can cause a wet subgrade & settlement, which can lead to cracking and structural issues.
  • Apply a concrete sealer to all exterior concrete!  This provides the surface the most protection from moisture intrusion, chemical attack and staining.   Re-application of the sealer, depending on the type and traffic areas, is generally required every 2 – 5 years.
  • Don’t allow snow and ice to accumulate the first winter without removing it.
  • Don’t use any de-icing products at all, especially the first winter.  All de-icing products increase the total number of freeze/thaw cycles and their negative effects.  Deicing products containing ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, and magnesium chloride chemically attack concrete and do damage above and beyond that of freeze/thaw cycles alone.  For traction, we recommend sand on icy surfaces.
  • Avoid parking vehicles on your driveway.  Keep snow and water drippings containing chemicals from our roadways off your new concrete.
  • Don’t allow fertilizer (liquid or solid) to remain on you concrete after yard applications.  They can chemically damage or discolor your concrete.