5 Tips to Take Care of your Sidewalk and Driveway in the Winter

Having a smooth, pristine driveway and sidewalk means paying attention to the preventative maintenance that will keep your home looking its best year-round. Although weeds are a concern during the warmer months, temperature changes, ice, and adding chemicals to your concrete can wreak havoc on your curb appeal when you least expect it. Thankfully, you can avoid the headache of damaged concrete as long as you follow these five tips. 

Person shoveling snow from walkway in front of a house

5 Ways to Prepare Your Driveway for Winter Weather

  1. Prevent water buildup
  2. Apply a sealant
  3. Fix damage
  4. Remove snow and ice as quickly as possible
  5. Choose the right driveway ice melt

Add a Drainage System Underground

Standing water can cause significant headaches for the structural integrity of concrete and asphalt surfaces, as well as increase the likelihood that a friend or family member will experience an injury. The best way to treat standing water is to prevent it before it happens. Installing a drainage system underground and ensuring that your driveway and walkways are adequately sloped is the first step in taking care of your concrete. 

When driveway ice melts, having a drainage system installed can help carry the water away, preventing it from accumulating near your home, on your sidewalks, or somewhere that will be dangerous to your family and visitors. This can mean a full drainage system, appropriate sloping, or a combination of the two.

Seal Your Concrete and Asphalt

House in snow with clean driveway

Adding a sealant to your walkways and driveway is a smart way to prevent cracks from happening. By adding a sealant and reapplying it every few years, you can double the life of your concrete and asphalt. Although this process keeps your home's curb appeal looking great, it also helps prevent water and ice damage. 

Best Sealants to Protect Against Damage from Driveway Ice:

  • Plain surface
  • Coal tar
  • Fill-and-seal
  • Cure-and-seal
  • Asphalt-based sealant

Concrete is a porous material, meaning water can seep into its small spaces and holes. When water permeates concrete during the winter, a change in temperature can freeze the water, causing expansion and cracking. Although you can use products that melt ice on your driveway and sidewalks, if the surfaces aren't sealed, you could still have issues with cracking and damage.  

Fix Cracks as Soon as They Happen

Crack in sidewalk

If you didn't seal your driveway or if you still managed to get a few cracks, you'll need to act immediately. One of the fastest ways to cause major damage to your driveway and sidewalks is to ignore cracks. Assuming that a crack in your concrete won't get any worse is playing a risky game, one that often ends in disappointment and high repair bills. 

Remove Ice and Snow Immediately

It's possible to enjoy the snow during the winter without worrying about the structural integrity of your sidewalk, walkway, or driveway. However, knowing how to best prevent and remove driveway ice and snow can be the difference between the longevity of your asphalt and concrete surfaces and having to pay to make repairs or even replace sections sooner than expected. 

Choosing the proper prevention method – whether you prefer heat mats, a tarp, or a pet-safe ice melt product – can positively impact you. However, if you can't prevent the accumulation of snow and driveway ice, the best option is to make sure you have the equipment necessary to remove it as soon as possible. A high-quality shovel, sturdy boots, warm gloves, and a focus on your posture will keep you from injuring yourself while allowing you to keep your driveway and sidewalks safe and clear during winter weather.  

Understand your Options for Driveway Ice

GroundWorks Natural Ice Melt

If you sealed your driveway, you're in a better position than most. A protective coating can help prevent damage from the harmful chemicals in many popular driveway ice melt productsHowever, it's still important to keep the following in mind: 

  • Read the directions on your driveway ice melt thoroughly to know the dangers that can come from its interaction with pets, grass, flowers, and water runoff. Some types of ice melt, particularly rock salt, may be good for your wallet but can be very dangerous in other areas. 
  • Choose a pet-safe ice melt to protect your pets, children, and the environment.
  • Invest in preventative measures to avoid damage in the first place before adding a driveway ice melt product.

Is Rock Salt Bad to Use to Melt Driveway Ice

Although it's one of the most popular ways to melt ice on your driveway, rock salt can lead to corrosion, cracks, discoloration, and other damage to your concrete. It can also be dangerous to your pets. 

The surface most likely to experience damage from the use of rock salt is grey-white concrete. The calcium chloride in salt mixes with the calcium hydroxide present in the concrete, causing calcium oxychloride. These crystals become trapped inside the concrete and expand, causing internal damage as well as unsightly cracks and divots. 

Rock Salt and Pets 

If you're looking for a pet-safe ice melt, stay far away from rock salt. The substance can cause blood sodium poisoning if ingested by your pets, as well as frostbite or chemical burns if it gets stuck between their toes. Unfortunately, it only takes a few licks from your pet to the granules of rock salt for the exposure to be dangerous. 

Animals who lick rock salt may become lethargic, experience increased thirst, begin vomiting, and even develop kidney damage. The best way to avoid all these issues is to forego rock salt and instead choose a pet-safe ice melt for your home or office. Rocky Mountain BioAg® offers several pet-safe ice melt options that are both environmentally friendly and won't damage your sidewalk or driveway. 

The Best Driveway Ice Melts

Mountain Organic Natural Icemelter

The best way to take care of your sidewalk and driveway during the winter is by preventing damage and selecting a pet-safe ice melt. Rocky Mountain BioAg® offers several safe options for your pets, the environment, and your wallet. 

Our expert staff can help you find the best product to melt your driveway ice. Not only do we carry a wide range of products, but we can also customize each selection's sizes to best serve your needs. So, whether you're a homeowner looking to treat your own driveway and walkway in front of your steps or you are the head of a municipality that wants to opt for a pet-safe ice melt for your city sidewalks, we have the resources you need to take care of your sidewalk and driveway ice this year and beyond. 

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