Whether it makes up a driveway, sidewalk or patio, concrete takes a lot of abuse. Not many people think twice about it until there are obvious blemishes. However, simple maintenance can potentially help your concrete reach or even exceed its expected usable life. Depending on factors like mixture, what the slab is used for and whether it is installed correctly, it could last roughly 30 years. Well-maintained driveways can even boost your home’s curb appeal!
Here are some tips for maintaining your concrete’s freshly-poured appearance for years to come.
One the most important parts of maintaining concrete is to keep it clean by cleaning spills as quickly as possible. Driveways are hotbeds for motor oil, radiator fluid and other engine leaks. When these fluids absorb into cement, they can weaken the mixture and cause the surface to crack or scale.
Fresh oil spills should be absorbed with non-clumping kitty litter and then scrubbed with grease-cutting dish detergent and warm water. You can use a power washer and biodegradable cleaning chemicals to remove dried spills.
Concrete sealer is used to prevent fluid leaks and the elements from staining and damaging concrete. Experts recommend resealing every two to three years for optimal protection, though you may need to do it more often if the slab is exposed to heavy traffic and rain.
You should only seal after the slab is clear of debris and discolorations, otherwise the sealant will not be as effective and stains may bleed through. If your concrete was recently poured, you should wait for it to cure completely before sealing – up to a month is recommended.
Other tips for successful sealing include:
The concrete should stay dry during the process
The temperature must remain above 50 degrees during application and up to three days afterward as it cures/dries
This is not much of an issue in Louisiana where heavy snowfall is rare. But for people in areas where slippery driveway and sidewalk conditions are common in the winter, it is recommended you avoid using deicing chemicals and cement salt. These materials penetrate concrete and cause cracking, spalling and scaling.
Materials that can prevent slipping without causing damage include:
You can remove snow the old-fashioned way with a shovel or snow blower. Even sugar beet juice and pickle brine are considered safe alternatives for removing ice from driveways and sidewalks.
This may be easier said than done, but you can prevent concrete from cracking by making some minor changes to your landscaping and routine. Primarily, avoid planting trees and shrubs near the edge of the driveway and remove any existing ones. When roots expand underneath a concrete slab, they can cause unsightly cracks, which can also be a tripping hazard.
Although driveways are meant to be driven on, most are not built to withstand the weight of very large vehicles, especially near the edges. That means moving vans, construction vehicles and heavy-duty trucks should park on the street. You may also want to park your car closer to the middle of the slab, if possible.
Proper curing requires a specific combination of moisture, temperature and time to give concrete its overall structure and quality. People maintaining existing concrete do not need to worry about curing. This is only a concern with fresh concrete.
There are a few easy ways to ensure concrete cures correctly:
Do not paint or stain concrete for at least a month
Do not put weight on the concrete for at least 24 hours
Do not drive vehicles on the concrete for at least three days
No matter the size of your concrete project, it is important you use only quality mixes and designs. Concrete to Finish can bring a ready-to-finish load to your job site 24/7. We proudly service the greater New Orleans area. Call (504) 305-4049 or visit us online to schedule your delivery.