Concrete driveways can get damaged in many ways, leading to a decrease in functionality and giving them a neglected look. As both aspects are important to every self-respecting property owner, it’s important to learn how the damage to concrete driveways occurs and what can be done to prevent it.
The two biggest sources of damage to concrete are water and salt. Water’s adverse effect on concrete comes down to its penetrating through the pores and expanding when it freezes during cold seasons. The expansion in volume is significant and it creates so much pressure as to break the concrete from the inside. This is why concrete flakes and this is why cracks and pits appear. Salt also finds its way beyond the surface and can penetrate and damage the steel bars reinforcing the concrete. Furthermore, salt exacerbates the damage done by water, as it is extremely absorbent.
This is where concrete sealers come into the picture. By protecting concrete driveways from surface damage, damage created by water and salt, staining and corrosion, they allow them to perform their function for a much longer period of time than if left unprotected. The protection that sealers provide works in two ways. One way is to fill out the pores so that water and salt cannot get absorbed so easily. Outdoor concrete driveways, for example, benefit from penetrating sealers, as these ensure that enough air and moisture passes through, while also looking more natural. Alternately, sealers can be applied in the form of a protective layer that acts as a barrier to damaging materials.
Another great thing about concrete sealers is that they improve the appearance of the driveway. They can be very glossy or not at all (and everything in between) and even come in various colors. One benefit to applying a sealer on colored driveways is that it will reduce the risk of efflorescence developing on the surface. Sealers also provide stain protection. While concrete driveways often get stained by dirt, oil, and even pet urine, what makes the stains remain is the absorption of the staining material by the concrete. Sealers prevent this from happening.
Before a sealer can be applied, the concrete needs to be given time to cure. This can take at least three weeks, but it’s wise to wait for a full month to be on the safe side. This is especially important if a penetrating sealer is being applied. Once this process is over, the driveway should be cleaned, not just by sweeping it with a broom in order to remove leaves and other debris, but also by using a pressure-washer, as this will help get rid of various oil and grease stains. The concrete should then be left to dry. This is extremely important, as certain sealers, if applied too quickly, will mix with water and dilute, losing a lot of their protective power.
There are a couple of ways to apply the sealer onto the driveway, of which brushing it on is the slowest one. Using a roller is faster, but the quickest way is to spray the sealer across the surface of the driveway. It should be remembered, however, that cheap, common garden sprayers are a bad option and that it is advisable to get specialized spraying equipment. Whichever way of applying the sealer is chosen, the work should be done during dry days. As it’s already been mentioned, water dilutes sealers and reduces their beneficial effects. The treated area should also be sealed off for 24 hours, so that cars and pedestrians wouldn’t drive and walk over it before the sealer bonds.
Finally, before all this, the choice of which concrete driveway sealer is to be applied should be made. Siloxine sealers are a popular choice, for example. A material called polyaspartic polyurea has been said to have a number of characteristics which make it superior to most other sealers. A more detailed overview of its characteristics can be found at Driveway Sealer.
For concrete driveways meant to last a long time, sealers are a must. They provide protection and improve the look of the driveway. A good choice of materials is available and the application is relatively easy, with beneficial effects lasting for many years.