It is a common misconception that concrete is a maintenance-free option. In reality, all building materials will deteriorate over time due to exposure to the elements and everyday wear and tear. Out of all structural materials, though, concrete is considered to be one of the lowest maintenance options. There are a couple of ways to make sure that any concrete additions remain in good repair.
Keep concrete clean and sealed
Cleaning your concrete regularly is a good way to both keep your addition looking pristine and to remove any debris that could cause further damage over time, including dirt or mud, water, foliage, or other stain-inducing materials.
Including a sealer on top of any concrete is the easiest way to protect it from the elements. Most sealers need to be reapplied every 6 to 12 months. You can test if a sealer is present or needs to be replaced by dropping a small amount of water in several spots on the surface of the concrete. If the water beads up and the color doesn’t change, the concrete is sealed but if the water is absorbed into the concrete and the concrete darkens then the concrete needs to be resealed.
Repair any signs of wear and tear as quickly as possible
It is recommended to regularly inspect any concrete additions to make sure that you catch any signs of wear and tear or damage as early as you can. If you spot any, it is important to get it repaired as quickly as possible. Wear and tear or damage will only get worse over time and the costs to fix will only go upward. A small crack could turn into a large expansion crack sooner than you think, so it’s important to stay on top of any repairs needed.
Know what can harm concrete
A number of things can contribute to the breaking down of concrete over time. Some of these things will be out of our control, like weather and freeze/thaw cycles. It is important to know, though, what can damage your concrete outside of environmental factors and how best to prevent this damage. Acids, alkali, salts, and harsh chemicals can all be a detriment to concrete.
De-icing salts used during a snowfall can significantly damage concrete, as can any chemical containing chlorides. Chlorides can be found in some ‘safe’ de-icing products, as well as in fertilizers. These are acidic and attack the bonds which hold the concrete together. This is why using a sealer to protect your concrete, especially in highly trafficked areas, is so important.
Hire a contractor to repair damage
The best way to ensure that any concrete additions remain in good shape is to hire a contractor to conduct regular inspections and repair any damage. Some wear and tear can be unnoticeable to the untrained eye but will be readily apparent to a professional. They will also have the know-how to repair any present damage and advice on how to avoid damage in the future.