One of the biggest benefits of concrete driveways or parking areas involves the relatively low level of maintenance either will need over their lifetime. Although concrete surfaces come close to being maintenance-free, nothing is totally maintenance-free.
Now that you’ve spent some significant money on your driveway or parking area, however, you would probably like to know how to perform some level of maintenance in order to preserve value and prevent cracks and other small problems that can become large repair projects.
Here are some tips for caring for your outdoor concrete surfaces:
- Clean the surface and apply concrete sealers when needed. These are the two top measures you can take in order to preserve the value of your investment. How often cleaning and resealing will be required depends upon the weather and levels of traffic in your locality. When your current finish begins to show wear, or approximately every two years, you should consider resealing. Good sealer can be located at your local hardware store. Tell your contract how much traffic your concrete receives and what kinds of weather it’s exposed and he or she will recommend how often cleaning should be performed.
- Remove stains when you first notice them. When a stain sets in concrete for an extended period of time, it’s really difficult to get out. The sealant does help to protect your concrete from absorbing the brunt of the stain, but it’s far from impenetrable. When you first see a gas, grease, or oil stain, clean it off right away. If the stain does manage to set in a little too much, rent or borrow a pressure washer and use the appropriate cleaning chemicals – you’ll more than likely get the stain out.
- Avoid de-icing chemicals. If you live in a cold climate and need deicers, try using rock salt or calcium chloride instead. Deicers typically contain ammonium nitrates and ammonium sulphates cause damage to your driveway by forcing moisture to thaw and refreeze. Eventually, this leads to scaling and spalling damage. Newer concrete is also more vulnerable to the effects of salt, so it is wise to use sand for traction instead of chemicals.
- Keep construction equipment off. If your driveway was recently poured, be sure heavy construction equipment stays off for at least 30 days. Skid loaders can also leave their tracks on the concrete’s surface, so be sure they stay off as well.
- Review for low spots. After your contractor has completed any work on your driveway, check for low spots. You can do this by placing a quarter in any puddles you find. If the puddle covers the quarter, that spot is too low and could cause spalling in the future. In addition, if the puddle is greater than 2 to 3 feet in diameter, that can cause future damage as well. Have your contractor come back and fix these mistakes.
Above all, handle your concrete surfaces with care and they will reward you with low maintenance and long life.
Although concrete is durable and low maintenance, it doesn’t typically hold up too well against heavy vehicles and metal snowplow blades. By being a little more cautious in the care of concrete surfaces, you can save yourself a ton of trouble in the long run.