You’ve heard how important it is to keep up with the maintenance of your concrete, but how exactly do you go about doing it?
Concrete is a very expensive part of your home, and one of the biggest investments you can make in your property.
Here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we’ve helped our customers maintain and repair their concrete for over 30 years, and in this time we’ve seen plenty of instances where concrete has deteriorated due to lack of upkeep.
We want all of our customers to be equipped with the knowledge and resources to keep their concrete in the best shape possible, and that’s why we wrote this article that discusses our top three recommendations for concrete maintenance.
Here you’ll find information about concrete caulking, concrete cleaning and sealing, and filling voids.
1. Concrete Caulking
What is concrete caulking?
Over time, concrete can develop cracks throughout the slab. Concrete is also poured with intentional gaps or joints in order to allow for movement as temperatures fluctuate.
In both of these cases, applying a polymer concrete caulk to the cracks or gaps in an effort to seal them off is considered concrete caulking. The polymer caulk used for caulking up cracks and gaps in concrete flexes with the concrete slab as it moves.
Why is concrete caulking important?
Caulking your concrete can protect it from water erosion, freeze-thaw cycles, and weeds and plants.
When water has the opportunity to flow through the cracks or gaps in concrete, it can wash out the material that the slab is sitting on. This can cause the slab to settle, as there is less material there supporting it.
In addition, concrete is porous, and when water gets absorbed into those pores and freezes during freeze-thaw cycles, the pores expand and pop. Cracks and breaks make it easier for water to be absorbed into the concrete and cause new cracks or worsen existing ones, and cause surface damage, too.
Cracks and gaps in the concrete also provide a place for weeds and plants to grow. Not only are these an eyesore on your property, but their roots can also grow into the pores of the concrete and deteriorate it from the inside.
How often should concrete be caulked?
The frequency of concrete caulking will depend on many different factors, but in general, when using a high-quality polymer concrete caulk, it can be 3-8 years before you have to remove the old caulk and reapply it.
While this is true, if your concrete develops new cracks after the initial caulking, you’ll want to caulk as soon as you notice them to prevent them from worsening. At least twice every year, walk around the concrete on your property and pay close attention to any areas that may have developed new cracks, even if they are small.
2. Concrete Cleaning and Sealing
What is concrete cleaning and sealing?
Concrete cleaning and sealing is the act of cleaning concrete with a high-powered pressure washer and applying a sealer onto its surface in order to protect it from moisture and stains.
There are many different types of sealing products that can be used on your concrete’s surface, like topical sealers, penetrating sealers, and more, depending on your desired outcome.
Why is concrete cleaning and sealing important?
Cleaning and sealing can benefit your concrete in many ways, but the most important is the sealer’s ability to create a moisture barrier that prevents water from being absorbed into its pores.
When water gets absorbed into the pores of the concrete, it freezes as temperatures drop, expanding and causing damage, like surface spalling. Over the course of a winter season with lots of fluctuations in temperatures, the moisture within the concrete is constantly freezing and thawing, and absorbing more water, causing the damage to compound.
In addition to protecting concrete from moisture and freeze-thaw damage, cleaning and sealing can protect your concrete from the following:
- Salt damage
- Internal cracking
- Oil stains and deterioration
- Mold growth
Want to know more about how cleaning and sealing your concrete can protect it? Check out this Concrete Academy article: “How Cleaning and Sealing Can Protect Your Concrete”
How often should concrete be cleaned and sealed?
Concrete cleaning and sealing is an important part of any concrete maintenance routine, but how often you do it depends on the type of concrete sealer you decide to go with.
For example, many topical concrete sealers have to be reapplied every other year, whereas penetrating concrete sealers generally only need to be reapplied every 5-10 years.
Researching the different concrete sealing products and discussing your options with a concrete repair and maintenance expert will help you decide which is right for you.
What is void-filling?
Voids are empty spaces that can form underneath concrete slabs and are usually places where the sub-material that the concrete was sitting on settles or erodes away.
Voids can occur because the slab is supported by something other than the sub-material it’s sitting on, like another concrete slab or rebar holding up with a wall, which allows it to stay supported as what’s underneath it settles away.
Void-filling is the act of adding material back into the void in order to stabilize it and prevent the slab from cracking or settling. This is primarily done with concrete leveling, which consists of drilling small holes in the slab above the void and pumping the void full of a strong stabilizing compound which cures and creates a stable base for the slab to rest on.
Why is void-filling important?
If your concrete develops voids underneath, it may seem like it will be fine because it isn’t sinking or falling with the settling sub-material. However, if no action is taken, the slab could collapse, crack, or cause severe damage to the structures that are holding it up.
Waiting to address voids under your concrete can cause far more damage in the long run. For example, if your front porch has a void underneath and it isn’t stabilized, over time it can pull on the foundation of your house and cause the bricks, walls, and door frames to come out of alignment.
In this example, doing nothing about the voids would have caused extensive and expensive damage that was completely preventable with void-filling.
How often should you void-fill concrete?
If there are small, visible voids on the side of the slab, you can fill them with topsoil as a part of your regular landscaping maintenance in order to combat the progression of the void.
However, if you notice substantial voids under your slabs, you’ll need to seek professional help from a concrete leveling expert. Even if the slab isn’t out of level, the concrete leveling process will pump the voids full and stabilize the concrete.
This should be done as soon as possible after you see a void has developed on your property in order to minimize the chances of the damage advancing.
Your Next Steps
Now that you know our top three recommendations for keeping up with your concrete maintenance, you’re ready to implement them and protect your concrete from preventable damage.
Not sure where to start? Click the link below to set up a free onsite consultation and price estimate for concrete caulking, cleaning and sealing, leveling, or void-filling!
Here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, our goal is to provide you with the tools you need to make informed decisions on concrete repair, maintenance, and everything in between. Check out these related topics from our Concrete Academy:
- DIY Guide to Caulking Concrete Cracks
- What Happens to Concrete in Winter?
- Should You Caulk Expansion and Control Joints?