When it comes to maintaining your home, concrete maintenance usually isn't at the top of the priority list. Almost every home has some type of concrete surface, whether it’s a garage floor, porch, sidewalk, etc. Concrete is the product of choice for these surfaces because of its strength, durability, and relatively low maintenance requirements. Although this is true, it does deteriorate over time and a little bit of concrete maintenance can significantly increase its lifespan, as well as keep your concrete looking good.
There are several factors that determine the strength and durability of concrete. The quality of the mix, weather conditions during and shortly after pouring, and finishing techniques play the biggest role. Some concrete mixes are stronger than others and are designed to withstand harsher conditions. Cool, humid weather during and after the pour promotes concrete strength as opposed to hot and dry conditions. As far as the finishing of concrete goes, the techniques used can be crucial to the surface strength of concrete. If water is added to facilitate finishing, the risk of chipping and scaling over time is greatly increased. These factors will dictate the susceptibility of concrete.
So what actually causes concrete to deteriorate? The weather and its elements are the biggest contributor. Rain and snow will slowly erode away the surface. Freeze and thaw cycles may be concrete’s biggest enemy. When water seeps into the pores and freezes, it expands and breaks apart the concrete. Spilled chemicals, such as oil and acids, also eat away at concrete. Constant foot and vehicle traffic gradually wear down the surface, making it more vulnerable to all the previously mentioned factors.
The best way to decrease the rate of deterioration is to apply a coat of sealer on your concrete after cleaning it. Sealer provides protection by creating a barrier that prevents the penetration of water and other foreign substances. It also acts as a wear coat. The sealer is worn away by weather and traffic, not the concrete itself. Periodic applications of sealer will add many years to the life of your concrete, making concrete maintenance a wise practice, considering the high cost of replacement.
There are other advantages of concrete maintenance and sealer in addition to prolonging the lifespan of your concrete. Sealed concrete makes for much easier cleaning. Dirt, dust, and spills can usually be broomed or rinsed away since the concrete’s pores are sealed off. Most of those hideous stains from leaky automobiles, rusty patio furniture, and dripping grills can be prevented with a good coat of sealer. Sealer can also revive the colors and textures of decorative concrete, especially acid stained surfaces.
Think of your concrete as low maintenance but not maintenance free. It is expensive to replace so protect your investment by keeping it coated with concrete sealer.
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