The forgotten investment, caring for your concrete! Your new walk, patio or driveway is subjected to huge temperature swings in Wisconsin, ice, heat and glaring sun. By planning your project with Chris Foss Contractors you have a great start: we prepped the sub-grade, dealt with potential water issues, used our high quality concrete mix, and have a craftsman finish on the surface. Now it's up to you. With a bit of care, your choice of a concrete driveway will last you decades. Here is our best advice on caring for your new concrete surface.

  • The concrete must be cured immediately after finishing. Curing greatly increases the strength and durability of the concrete surface and its resistance to freezing and thawing as well as de-icer salts.
  • Keep vehicles off of freshly placed concrete for at least 7 days.
  • Freshly placed concrete should be sealed after allowing a minimum of 30 days to air dry. Consider resealing aged concrete every several years or as wear in high traffic areas begins to show. Follow manufacturer's recommendations (contact your local ready mix supplier to purchase this product).
  • Sealing is a process where a protective coating or penetrating water repellant material is applied to keep moisture and contaminates out of the concrete. New concrete should dry for 30 days after proper curing. A quality concrete sealer helps maximize protection and lengthens the time between applications. Your local ready mixed concrete producer may be an outstanding source for sealers and for further information. Some sealers, primarily designed for industrial applications, darken or yellow the concrete. Ask if your sealer discolors the concrete and follow the manufacturer's directions.
  • The use of down sprouts can help ensure that drain water does NOT undermine the slab which can cause settlement cracks.
  • Prevent snow and ice from accumulating on the concrete especially the first winter. Sand can always be used for traction.

The Use of De-Icers in Our Climate

  • Avoid Using Deicers the First Year. Concrete takes a while to reach its maximum strength. While some deicers, such as salt, do not chemically react with the concrete, they do increase the number of freeze/thaw cycles the concrete must go through. This has the potential of damaging the concrete until it has reached its maximum strength.
  • Use Sand Anytime. The only safe material to use to make the concrete surface skid resistant is plain sand. This can be purchased at several locations, frequently at the ready mixed concrete supplier in your area.
  • Don't Use Deicers With Ammonium Nitrate or Ammonium Sulfate. Never use deicers containing ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate. These chemicals are often packaged and sold as deicers, but they will rapidly disintegrate concrete. Common garden fertilizers containing these two chemicals, or urea, may cause disintegration as well.
  • Use a Sealer. Under usual conditions, deicers which contain sodium chloride (common salt) or calcium chloride may be used after the first winter. Even so, caution is needed. It is important that a surface sealer be applied after finishing. Check with your ready mix supplier or contractor for sealers.

* Adapted from Lycon, Inc. and WRMCA

Sealing Your Concrete

After concrete has cured it should be sealed. In fact it's an important factor contributing to strong and durable concrete. There are 2 methods to consider.

  1. A penetrating sealer can be applied to raw, cured concrete. It will not change the appearance of your concrete and will be quite durable lasting 5-10 years before reapplication is necessary.
  2. A film forming membrane can be applied. These membranes will darken the concrete and leave a glossy shine. As the cure and seal membrane wears off, the concrete will lighten to it's original color. Film forming membranes are affected by the environment and by traffic, and they’ll begin to show wear patterns in 1-2 years and will wear away completely in 3-4 years.

Its important to note that if your concrete is sealed in the traditional way of keeping moisture levels constant with water, tarps or burlap, a liquid sealer is perfect for use. If you have elected to use a curing compound, or a liquid membrane forming product, the film will not allow penetrating sealers to seep in. Careful selection should be made of the method that works best for your project.

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