How to Fix Salt Damaged Concrete | How You Can Protect It

Every winter, different types of concrete surfaces across the country suffer at the hands of de-icing and road salts.

The effects are unmistakable: dusting, spalling, cracking, spalling, and pitting.

They’re noticeable in walkways, driveways, pool decks, and even patios. While the damage may not be visible from day one, over time, it accumulates and weakens the concrete’s structure.

What used to be a beautiful outdoor space can quickly deteriorate into an eyesore.

To avoid this fate, taking preventative measures like timely repairs, regular maintenance, and proper sealing is essential.

If your concrete has already been damaged by salt, using a concrete patching compound is a good way to fix the problem.

How to fix salt damaged concrete

How to Fix Concrete Damaged by Salt ?

Winter ice can be a serious hazard, especially when it forms on walkways and steps.

Fortunately, salt is an effective tool for melting these icy surfaces. Homeowners often spread it across their driveways, sidewalks, and other pathways to make them safer and easier to traverse.

The chemical compound works by lowering the freezing point of water, allowing snow and ice to melt away at temperatures that would otherwise remain below freezing.

However, salt may also be causing damage to your concrete without you even realizing it. Each time the de-icing agent is applied, it seeps into the pores of the concrete and weakens the surface.

Eventually, it can lead to crumbling and cracking along with pitting and discoloration. If you’ve noticed that your concrete is becoming stained or pitted, here are some simple steps that you can follow to fix it.

A woman is spreading blue ice melt (salt) on a frozen winter driveway. Focus is on the concrete surface, the hand is soft with some slight motion blur.

Clean the Area

With a garden hose, give the concrete area a light misting. Allow the entire surface to become saturated, but not wet enough to create puddles. Watch as the color of the concrete shifts, revealing the damage done by salt.

If you’re dealing with a larger area, you may need to use a pressure washer. Be sure to use it on the lowest setting and take care not to over-saturate the concrete, as this could cause additional damage.

Apply Concrete Patching Compound

After you’ve finished cleaning the salt-damaged area of concrete, it’s time to move on to the next step: applying a concrete patching compound. This compound will fill in any small cracks and pits caused by the salt, leaving behind a seamless and even surface.

Start by sweeping away any dirt or debris from the surface with a stiff-bristled broom. Make sure to remove as much debris as possible so that your patch can adhere properly.

Then, using either a putty knife or trowel, apply the patching compound directly onto the damaged area. You may need to apply several layers of patching compound if the damage is extensive.

Let each layer dry before adding another one. If needed, use a sander to make sure that the surface is perfectly smooth before letting your repair job cure completely.

Let it Dry

You may need to place an old board on top of your patched area to help keep it level. Allow the patch compound to cure for at least 24 hours before allowing light traffic. If you plan on allowing heavy traffic over the area, wait for a full 48 hours before doing so.

Protect from Future Damage

Once all of your repairs are done, give your concrete an extra coat of sealant for added protection against future salt damage.

Pay special attention to areas around windows and doors that are particularly susceptible to salt accumulation after rain or snowfall.

Do this once every two years, and your concrete surface should remain safe and durable during the next winter seasons.

How to Prevent Salt Damage on Concrete

Corrosion, cracking, and pitting caused by salt are common problems for homeowners. The good news is, although it’s a common problem, this can be prevented with proper maintenance.

Use a Sealant

Sealing your concrete regularly is the best way to prevent salt damage from occurring. By using an effective waterproof sealant, you can create a barrier between your concrete and the salt.

This will help to keep out moisture as well as prevent corrosive salts from coming into direct contact with the concrete surface.

It’s also important to use a sealant that is designed to resist chloride ions, which are the main cause of salt damage.

Using a high-quality sealant will ensure that any existing chloride ions in the concrete are not allowed to move too close to the surface and cause corrosion or cracking.

Silane, siloxane, and acrylic sealants are some examples of sealants that are particularly effective against salt damage.

Clear Sealing New Concrete Floor with Paint Roller

Maintain Cleanliness

Cleaning your concrete regularly is essential for keeping it free from salt damage.

Salt can easily accumulate on concrete surfaces, so make sure to sweep away dirt and debris often—especially near coastal areas or if you live in an area where there is frequent snowfall.

In areas where snow falls heavily, be sure to use rock salt with caution as it can contain large amounts of chloride ions which can cause significant damage over time.

Temporary Protection Against Salts

Another option for preventing salt damage is using temporary protection from salts such as sealing waxes or oils.

These products provide a layer of protection against corrosion, but they need to be reapplied regularly for them to remain effective.

It’s also important that these protective products do not come into contact with other chemicals like fertilizers which may reduce their effectiveness over time.

Be Proactive

Use a de-icing agent sparingly. If you do need to use a de-icing agent, be sure to use one that is specifically designed for concrete and avoid any products that contain corrosive chloride ions.

Alternatives to rock salt like calcium magnesium acetate and urea can provide a safer alternative to traditional de-icing agents.

How to Fix Salt Damaged Concrete: Final Thoughts

It can be quite devastating to see your concrete surface damaged due to salt. The good news is, a patching job and regular maintenance can help to prevent or repair any damage caused by salt.

Depending on how extensive and severe the damage is, additional repairs may need to be done for your concrete structure to return to its original condition. If in doubt, it’s always best to consult with a professional.

They can assess the extent of the damage and recommend the most effective solutions for restoring your concrete surface.

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