Taking care of your concrete will help it last longer and let you get the most out of your investment. The first year requires some effort, but it gets easier with each passing year.
Sealing Concrete and Asphalt
Once your concrete has cured fully, about a month after it's been placed, it's ready to be sealed. A protective sealer minimizes the amount of moisture and deicing chemicals from penetrating the surface and helps keep it free from stains. Your contractor can help to recommend a sealer, look for one containing the active ingredients silane or siloxane. Decorative concrete often has an acrylic sealer applied to it to provide sealing properties along with a level of luster. Once this initial sealer has been applied, it only needs to be reapplied every 3 to 5 years, depending on use.
During the first winter, do not use any deicing chemicals to remove snow or ice but make sure to keep the surface shoveled and ice-free. Use sand for traction if needed. Never use deicers containing ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate because they will deteriorate the concrete surface.
Avoid using harsh acids for removing stains. Instead, use products specifically designed for the material that left the stain and that is approved for use on concrete.
For asphalt, the sealer should be applied about six months after it is installed and repeated every 2-3 years. After cleaning the surface of any dirt or weeds, let it dry thoroughly. Using a long-handled application brush or squeegee, spread a thin layer of the sealant over the entire surface. Let the material dry completely, usually 24 hours, before allowing any traffic on the newly sealed surface.
Joint sealants in both concrete and asphalt pavements need to be replaced periodically as they begin to fail over time. This is a task for a contractor due to the amount of joint seal to be replaced and the equipment required for the removal, joint preparation and sealant installation processes. Pavement joint seals have a typical service life of 5 to 10 years depending upon sealant type and service conditions.
Download our Concrete Care for Homeowners Brochure for more details
Repairing and sealing cracks in your driveway and parking areas will improve its appearance, eliminate potential trip hazards, and keep water from further damaging the surface. By keeping water out, Michigan's freeze-thaw cycle won't be able to make cracks and divots larger. These repairs are for very small cracks, less than ½” wide and are not part of the joints cut into the concrete by your contractor.
The prep work for both is the same, clean up any ragged edges and remove any debris and vegetation growing in the crack. Apply the crack repair product appropriate to your pavement type according to the manufacturer’s application instructions.
If the cracks are wide, or if one side is at a different height than the other, the repairs may be more extensive and you'll want to consult a contractor about the best way to address these issues.
Keeping your concrete or asphalt driveway, sidewalks or parking areas maintains the appearance of your investments and helps protect them and keep them in good condition.