Concrete is a durable substance, particularly when dried. Despite its sturdiness, it’s, by no means, impervious to damage.
Proper concrete maintenance should still happen regularly. Read on to find out how you can care for concrete properly.
Why Maintain Concrete?
Concrete maintenance may raise eyebrows for some communities, considering that it’s a hard-wearing and long-lasting product.
But, properly maintained concrete may extend its lifespan. On the other hand, poorly maintained concrete might lose its aesthetic and functional appeal.
For example, cracks on concrete driveways may increase the risks of car-related accidents. Another example is stains on concrete floors, which might look unappealing.
Remember, concrete products tend to be an expensive investment. Hence, it should be best to maintain this asset, or you risk losing that valuable venture.
How To Maintain Concrete?
Several methods exist to help you maintain concrete products. Here are five of those techniques:
1. Hire Professionals
Although it’s possible to maintain concrete using DIY methods, mistakes may be more likely to happen if you do this job with minimal knowledge and experience.
If so, then, the better option is to hire professionals from the beginning.
Companies in the industry, like RS Concrete Restoration, may help maintain the aesthetic beauty and structural integrity of your concrete products.
Industry experts should already have the necessary training to prepare, prevent, and protect concrete items from harm.
Some of these professional services may include the following:
- Surface preparation
- Concrete leveling, polishing, and sealing
- Crack and joint repairs
- Preventive maintenance
Professional concrete maintenance services may not only save you time, but money as well.
Many homeowners might assume that expert help is more expensive than using DIY tactics.
But, don’t forget to consider equipment buying and renting costs to complete the job. If you purchase these tools, you might only use them once every few years.
Hence, your money might go to products that might become one-trick ponies, which might later turn into a glorified paperweight.
In contrast, you might save some cash if you decide to rent the equipment needed for the maintenance.
However, renting might be quite expensive, plus you have to operate the devices by yourself.
Hiring reliable concrete maintenance and restoration companies help mitigate these issues as you might not need to purchase or rent certain tools.
As a bonus, these service providers tend to be experienced technicians, which means that mistakes might be relatively low.
2. Basic Maintenance
Hiring professionals from the start is an excellent way to maintain concrete products.
Still, you might consider doing basic DIY maintenance practices before calling the experts.
Paint removal and basic cleaning are two methods you may do without the need for expensive equipment.
If you want to remove paint stains from concrete, you’ll need the following materials:
- Paint remover
- Paint scraper
- Laminated paper
- Heat gun
- Pressure washer
Start peeling unwanted paint from the concrete by using your preferred paint remover. Apply the solution copiously.
Then, cover the paint removing solution with the laminated paper to control the evaporation.
Note that the drying process may take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the amount of paint to remove.
Consider waiting for at least two hours to be sure. You may hasten the process by applying a heat gun to the laminated paper.
Remove the paper after the waiting period, then, start scraping the leftover paint.
You might need to get on your hands and knees for this step, so prepare yourself as it might become a messy job.
If the paint isn’t coming off the concrete with the scraper, you can use a pressure washer instead of a small scraper.
However, some stubborn paint traces don’t seem to budge, even with the use of a pressure washer. If so, consider applying more paint remover and repeat the entire process.
Another maintenance practice is to ensure the concrete surface is frequently devoid of debris, especially wet leaves.
The tannins in wet leaves may leave stains, which might be more difficult to remove than paint.
Outdoor concrete surfaces, such as stamped concrete driveways and patios, tend to be susceptible to this issue. Set a time during your free days to sweep these areas.
If you don’t, sudden rains might dampen the leaves on these areas, causing a high risk of unwanted staining.
Milling is a process to help remove damaged and hazardous sections in concrete pavements.
It’s a procedure generally done to ensure the surface is clean before repairing damages.
Before you decide to mill concrete, it’s important to mention that the operation requires heavy equipment.
Hence, if you don’t have the necessary expertise to handle these massive tools, it’s best to leave the procedure to seasoned professionals.
Still, understand that pavement milling requires a milling machine since this is different from just sanding a concrete surface. Various models exist, but most of them tend to follow industry-standard designs.
You may find three basic components in these devices: the cutting drum, vacuum, and conveyance system.
First, the cutting drum rotates the machine’s cutting heads across the pavement. It chews the existing concrete to the allowable depth provided by the cutting heads.
Then, the vacuum sucks the milled material before depositing it into the conveyance system.
After removing the unwanted concrete by creating strategic ‘wounds’ with the desired depth and width, sweeping and cleaning the surface comes next.
This step helps remove the debris that might potentially cause problems for the new concrete.
Efficient milling may require new concrete layers to be at the same depth as the old surface.
In turn, it ensures that other structures, such as curbs and drainage systems, won’t incur issues from faulty milling practices.
Cracks on concrete surfaces aren’t only unaesthetic, but they can potentially become the forefront of hazardous situations.
For example, cracks in concrete walls may widen over time, causing a home’s structural integrity to weaken.
Additionally, cracks or holes in concrete floors might be the reasons for falls and trips.
Maintain these surfaces through proper resealing. However, the concrete resealing product and method tend to be different, depending on the structure.
Here are some of the types of concrete sealants you may consider:
- Recurrent movement: A solution to repair and seal cracks in concrete by injecting either polyurethane or epoxy resin where recurrent movement appears or happens
- Water leaks: A concrete resealing solution to repair and seal cracks to stop water leaks quickly
- Structural repair: Epoxy resin sealants to help close cracks in concrete infrastructures.
- Although epoxy resin tends to be quite common for sealing structural cracks, some products may use other substances.
- Surface repair: A sealant to help repair cracks in parking decks and industrial work floors
After determining the sealing issue to tackle, the next step is to prepare the surface for the operation. Here are the steps to help you prepare cracks for sealing with an epoxy-based product:
- Clean the crack. Remove all unnecessary debris from the crack or expansion joint. Use a power washer or vacuum, depending on the size of the crack.
- Do a quick inspection after each cleaning session to ensure no debris remains.
- If debris remains, the sealant might fail to adhere. Hence, small crevices may appear in the solution, causing leaks.
- Mix the epoxy-based sealant. Ensure that you follow the product’s instructions, which you may find on the label.
- If not, consider doing a quick online search before proceeding with this step. Note that some low-volume epoxy sealants may come with a dispenser for easy mixing.
- Other sealing solutions, like prepared caulks, may already come pre-mixed.
- Backer rod installation. This element creates a flexible filler to help the sealant cure. Moreover, it reduces the overall volume of the required sealant.
- Sand the surface. Use a rough grit sandpaper, like 400 or 100 grit, to remove the excess sealant that might be jutting out of the crack.
- Be careful as it might be quite easy to go overboard with the sanding. Move to high grit sandpaper, like 1200 or 1500 grit, to smoothen the finish.
- Wait for the patch to cure. It should take about eight hours for the sealant to dry and cure.
- But, consider waiting for a week before doing anything else to the crack. It’s because some sealants may still feel soft, even after 24 hours of curing.
Remember, the sealant and method might be different for sealing cracks in other concrete structures.
For instance, you may use polyurethane to seal cracks in concrete slabs.
Otherwise, hydraulic cement might also be a more suitable option, especially if the damages are quite severe.
5. Stop Using De-icing Chemicals
Perhaps, it’s safe to say that most de-icers tend to work the same. These solutions help depress ice or snow’s freezing point on concrete.
The outcome tends to be a liquid or slush finish where the ice or snow used to be.
Then, you can remove the loose substance using vacuum cleaners or other mechanical devices.
Deicers tend to be the go-to solution for many homeowners to remove ice and snow from concrete surfaces, particularly their driveways.
But, these products might offer convenience in exchange for shortening the lifespan of concrete.
Note that these solutions tend to have the following chemical compounds:
- Sodium chloride (NaCl)
- Magnesium chloride (MgCl2) mixed with an organic-based performance enhancer (OBPE)
- NaCl mixed with MgCl2 and OBPE
- Calcium chloride (CaCl2) and OBPE
- NaCl with reduced temperatures of up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit
These chemicals might help liquefy ice and snow for easy removal. But, these compounds may also adversely affect the concrete underneath.
A 2002 study funded by the US federal government and conducted by credible institutions, including the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), US Department of Transportation (USDOT), and several universities, researched the potentially harmful effects of de-icers on concrete pavements.
It wasn’t until April 2008 when these agencies published the results of this study in a report titled SD2002-01 ‘The Deleterious Effects of Concentrated Deicing Solutions on Portland Cement Concrete.’
The investigators found significant evidence of Cacl2 and MgCl2 compounds adversely reacting with cement, resulting in expansive cracking, increased permeability, and strength loss.
Concrete slag may also become more apparent. However, the study also revealed that NaCl promoted the least amount of damage when in contact with concrete.
However, this substance might become a corrosive agent to reinforced steel, placing dangers to nearby metal infrastructures.
Several pieces of evidence revealed from the study dictated that de-icers chemically attack concrete.
But, the investigators weren’t able to find conclusive results if these adverse effects happen sporadically or regularly.
Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that it’s better to stay away from deicing solutions to remove ice and snow from concrete surfaces.
Instead, you may use alternate solutions, such as:
- Sand: It’s possible to mix conventional sand with salt to melt ice and snow on concrete. However, this mixture might make the surface more slippery than usual. Hence, it might not be a safe alternative for concrete driveways (stamped or regular) and paths.
- Electric heating coils: If you have the extra cash, consider installing electric heating coils under the concrete driveway before winter. You may control these devices remotely to ensure your driveway remains snow-free throughout the season.
- Concrete coatings: These clear films tend to be a less expensive solution to electric heating coils. These solutions tend to have chemicals, like siloxane, which allow the concrete to dispense ice and snow without the harmful effects of CaCl2 or MgCl2.
- Snow-melting mats: These products tend to have a relatively powerful heating element between two rubber layers. Place one over your icy or snowy concrete surface for about an hour or two, and watch as the cold substance melts for easy removal.
Aside from de-icers, don’t use chemicals used for lawn care for ice and snow removal. These compounds may reduce the strength of the durable surface over time.
Concrete is a durable and hefty material, but it’s not maintenance-free.
Thankfully, you can choose among various options to help maintain your concrete structures’ aesthetic and functional appeal.
Choose between hiring industry professionals, DIY resealing, and doing basic maintenance procedures.
Also, don’t use de-icers as these chemicals may do more harm than good to your concrete products.