Homeowners in the Chicago area are busier than usual this winter, tackling large amounts of snow and ice on driveways and sidewalks. If you’ve invested in concrete pavers around your home, you may be wondering about the safest and most effective way to keep them ice-free. Safety is the top priority, but we also want to minimize potential damage to the pavers. With many chemical de-icing choices available, which is the best for your concrete pavers?
Concrete pavers manufactured in recent years are strong and dense. They absorb little water, which reduces the amount of expansion and contraction. While less susceptible to damage from chemical de-icers than poured concrete, some precautions should be taken before applying chemical de-icers to concrete pavers.
Commonly available de-icers include:
- Sodium chloride (rock salt): De-ices to just below 32⁰ F., making it less effective in colder weather.
- Calcium chloride: Faster-acting pellets, and are effective to around -25⁰ F.
- Potassium chloride: A naturally occurring material, sometimes used as a fertilizer. It is an effective de-icer. However, overuse can cause damage to surrounding foliage.
While effective, the University of Nebraska and other professionals warn de-icers should be used in moderation only. Overuse can cause damage to surrounding plants, burn foliage and inhibit rooting. Keep in mind that concrete pavers may require less de-icing material than poured concrete. According to The American Society of Landscape Architects, ongoing research suggests that most porous pavements (pavers) require less salting than impervious pavements, because thawed water drains so readily away through the pores.
Other, less desirable de-icers include:
- Ammonium nitrate or ammonium sulfate. According to the University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension, these can chemically attack concrete.
- Magnesium chloride is an effective de-icer but also can cause damage to concrete.
Overuse of chemical de-icers may leave scaling, pitting and flaking of concrete pavers. Sealing the pavers will help prevent this.
Above all, be sure to read the label on the de-icer you choose. Make certain that it’s safe for concrete pavers. If you’re in doubt, give us a call at 630-355-3370 and we can track down the manufacturer’s recommendations. We want you to keep safe this winter, and enjoy your hardscape for years to come.