Salt is definitely the number one enemy of concrete. Salt damage to concrete is widespread and common. Yet every winter we spread ice melting salt compounds all over our streets, sidewalks, driveways, stairs and walkways as if concrete salt damage was of no concern at all. There is a choice to make between safety and appearance, and safety wins every time. Drivers and pedestrians need to be the priority. So, out comes the salt trucks, the trips to the hardware store for ice melting products and for three or four months every year we bombard our concrete with enemy number one: salt. And concrete salt damage is the inevitable result.
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Even if you choose not to salt your own property, salt finds its way into your concrete driveways, concrete garage floors, and walkways. As the salt melts the ice and snow on the roads, the slush is transferred to the underside of a vehicle and onto its tires. When the vehicle pulls into your drive and parks in your garage, the slush drips off the vehicle, and soaks right into the concrete. Salt is then stepped on and carried by shoes and boots to all the nearby walkways. And now the problems begin.
Concrete is the oldest man-made building material on the planet. It is made from easily found natural materials and is considered to be hard and durable. But one look at a salt damaged concrete walkway can tell you that this notion of “hard as concrete” has some holes in it… literally.
The problem is actually in the chemistry. Without getting all scientific and technical, it can be explained this way: do you remember learning about pH in school? PH is the measurement of alkaline/acid. Concrete is naturally very alkaline, being made up of lime, sand, stone… and has a very specific optimum pH range to maintain its strength, hardness, and cohesion. When a highly acidic compound is introduced into the concrete, the pH level is thrown completely out of whack and the concrete begins to deteriorate.
This is what we see when salt is used to melt ice and snow on a concrete surface. The very act of melting the ice allows the resulting water to flow down into the concrete through tiny pores, and that water is carrying the salt down with it. Once inside, the salt permeates the slab and goes to work- ruining it. This process may take years to become visible, or it might show up early on in the ‘life’ of your concrete. But it begins with the very first application of salt products and concrete salt damage is sped up with every subsequent salting.
There is now technology that can arrest salt damage to concrete. Permanently. Combining with the ingredients already inside your concrete, a waterborne reactive silicate penetrating sealer will penetrate the concrete and create a chemical reaction with the calcium and free lime – forming a gel in all the pores. This gel hardens, filling all the open spaces that would hold the dreaded salt and keeps the enemy from entering the concrete. Permanently. Air molecules will still pass through, but the concrete becomes resistant to any invasion of salts and other chemicals that could break it down.
The very best benefit from this permanent solution is the resulting ph change provided by some formulas. One application of this type of solution will restore the pH back to its original, intended level and keep it there. No more surface flaking or crumbling. No more slow breakdown from salt damage within. Your concrete will end up harder, denser, waterproof, salt and chemical resistant, stain resistant, and keep its appearance… permanently!
These formulas are easily installed on new concrete and are actually an excellent curing agent. They are also formulated to be applied on existing concrete and will provide permanent protection from salt and other chemicals, preventing any further surface erosion or interior compromise. If your concrete is already crumbling, this will not ‘repair’ it. But, if your concrete has not gotten too far in the process of spalling, crumbling, and flaking, you can put an end to salt damage, extend the life of it, harden it, and restore the ph- permanently- with just one application.
The cost is surprisingly less per square foot than most coatings and surface sealers, and by eliminating the need for further applications and maintenance, reactive silicate formulas will definitely give you the biggest bang for your concrete buck!
Keith deBolt is VP at CreteDefender- making the power and savings of permanent concrete protection available to everyone. To learn more about protecting your concrete from salt and freeze/thaw damage, visit us at http://CreteDefender.com or http://ConcreteDrivewaySealer.net.
CreteDefender has been used on racetracks, parking garages, shopping malls, retail stores, airports, and even Yankee Stadium- and, of course, thousands of driveways across America. It is the only approved permanent sealer for the bridge decks and highways in Illinois, Ohio and Indiana.
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