De-icing concrete isn’t as straightforward as treating asphalt. While concrete is one of the most durable building materials in the world, it’s susceptible to cracking, spalling and general weakening from the freeze/thaw cycle. That’s because concrete is porous: It absorbs water, and when the water freezes, it puts internal pressure on the structure.
Frequent exposure to freeze/thaw cycles will wreak havoc on your concrete driveway. At the same time, you can’t just leave it icy — that’s a major slip risk. What are your options?
Short Answer: No Salt Is Good Salt
Don’t be fooled by any marketing messages: There are no good types of de-icing salt for concrete. Sodium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride and potassium chloride — they’re all bad for concrete. Stay away from salt, and you won’t have to worry.
Try Heat Mats on Your Stairs
For concrete stairs, try laying heat mats on them. Besides the negative effects salt has on concrete, it can also cause your iron railings to rust, so keeping salt away from your front steps can have more than one benefit.
Ask Your Cat for Supplies
If you don’t want to lay heat mats over your entire driveway, you can use kitty litter for traction instead. Cat litter is biodegradable, so it won’t harm your landscaping or affect water runoff.
Use Natural Aggregates for Better Grip
You can also try using sand, gravel, wood chips or straw, laying it on your driveway for the winter months to gain a better grip, both with your shoes and your car’s tires.
When it’s Unavoidable
When there is no other option except to use de-icing salts on your concrete, try to minimize the damage.
Spread the salt, wait for the ice to melt, then quickly scrape and shovel the precipitation away.
Apply a salt-resistant concrete sealer before the next big winter storm for maximum surface protection, and re-apply the seal each winter. Some sealants offer an increase in grip strength, which can reduce the amount of de-icing salt needed.
Fix Your Driveway Damage
It will be safer to walk on a concrete driveway that’s free of ice and snow, but also one that’s level. Do you see cracks and sinking areas in your driveway? Let’s get that repaired before winter makes traversing the surface even more hazardous. Call Lift-Up Concrete today for a free quote on repairing your driveway damage. We’ll also give you more tips on the right way to safely de-icing concrete.