Building concrete structures involves a lot of time, money, and labor. However, outside concrete structures are mostly left exposed to the elements of nature, and protecting this investment is necessary to maintain its durability and structural strength.
With the proper curing, maintenance, and sealing, concrete can last for several years.
The following section of this article lists 9 concrete maintenance tips for concrete structures to help them last long indoors and outdoors.
- Pouring And Curing
According to experts, the right temperature for pouring and curing concrete is between 50-90 degrees.
Extremely hot or cold climates affect the strength and integrity of the final concrete structure. In tremendously low temperatures, the freeze-thaw cycle will affect the concrete, resulting in abnormal expansion and contraction.
It may also leave cracks on the surface.
Similarly, very hot temperatures cause the concrete to set fast but simultaneously reduce its strength. Therefore, proper concrete maintenance tips are essential for obtaining maximum strength and durability.
- Understanding The Environment
In places where extreme temperatures persist throughout the year, maintaining concrete structures is a difficult task. Concrete walls and columns are affected, particularly during the summer and winter seasons.
Rain, snow, and runoff can damage a concrete structure if it stays on the surface for an extended period of time.
It is always recommended to maintain the proper slope on concrete structures to drain the water properly from the surface. Excessive rain or heat causes significant damage to concrete surfaces even during the curing phase.
- Sealing The Concrete
It is essential to pick a suitable sealer for a concrete project. The final coating of sealant helps in improving the aesthetics of decorative concrete structures. The sealer also prevents moisture, oil, dirt, and stains from damaging concrete surfaces.
The type of concrete sealer depends on the intended application and environment of the project.
- Basic Maintenance
Basic maintenance is necessary to keep concrete surfaces free from debris, spills, and oils. It also enhances durability and reduces the chances of damage on a concrete surface. Performing essential maintenance also keeps grass and weeds from growing on concrete structures.
In addition, frequent cleaning of open-air concrete surfaces keeps them clean and improves their appearance. After cleaning and repairing any outdoor concrete structure, protect it against further damage by using the proper concrete sealer.
- Checking For Cracks
Periodically check concrete floors, slabs, columns, and foundations for cracks. If heavy cracking or deterioration is observed, perform immediate repairing and maintenance. It is best to ask for professional help to repair cracks on concrete structures.
- Applying A Fresh Finish
For staining and painting concrete surfaces, cleaning the exterior is necessary. Before application of the topcoat or other decorative paint, pressure wash the surface for a smooth finish.
Then, apply fresh coats of paint every five years to protect concrete surfaces from the elements of nature.
Concrete maintenance is particularly important in safeguarding areas like walkways, patios, and driveways.
- Consulting Experts
Seek the help of a concrete specialist for repairing and maintaining concrete structures. It is entirely worth the investment, as concrete experts provide complete concrete maintenance tips and maintenance of outdoor concrete structures.
This helps in maintaining the structural integrity of outdoor columns, walls, and slabs.
- Avoid Using Chemical Compounds
Experts suggest not using deicers on concrete surfaces, especially if the structure is less than one year old. However, damage is not caused by the deicers. Instead, it is due to the large number of freeze-thaw cycles induced by deicers.
These agents chemically lower the temperature of freezing water. It converts ice and snow into a saline solution. This solution continues to freeze and thaw irrespective of temperature changes. As a result, the concrete uses a large number of thawing cycles in the curing process.
The salt solution continues to seep through concrete pores, where it expands and contracts. This causes more damage to the structure. The volume of water changes by around 9% as it freezes and expands.
Deicers comprising ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate are particularly harmful as they damage the concrete chemically—compounds like sodium chloride and calcium chloride cause relatively more minor damage.
The best practice is to scrape or shovel the snow from the concrete. Use sand to absorb excess water.
- Protecting The Joint
There should be sufficient room for the expansion of joints and gaps between concrete slabs. Concrete structures expand and contract due to varying weather conditions.
If the gaps are not correctly water-sealed, water will seep inside the slabs and cause them to rise, heave, pitch, and sink.
As a result, cracks appear on the surface of the structures. To avoid such damage, it is best to use worn-out felt and fill the gaps with self-leveling sealant.
Concrete is a very tough material, and most contractors and clients consider it a maintenance-free product. Preparing and curing concrete structures is regarded as the final step of the process. However, in reality, no type of material lasts forever when exposed to the external environment.
Occasional maintenance is necessary to keep them in proper shape for an extended period of time.
Concrete structures like walkways, driveways, small walls, edging, and patios develop tiny cracks, vegetation growth, stains, and deterioration over time.
Usually, there are two types of concrete, one that is cracking and the other one that is showing signs of cracking.
Hence, it is essential to take necessary preventive measures to maintain the strength and durability of concrete structures.
Homeowners are primarily unaware of the regular maintenance for outside walls, driveways, and columns. It is always beneficial to consult with concrete experts about concrete maintenance tips. Professional contractors follow up with their clients every six to nine months to remind them about concrete maintenance.
It is essential to keep an eye on cracks, seals, and other requirements. Minor periodic maintenance helps preserve concrete structures for several years both in terms of aesthetic appeal and structural strength.
Outdoor concrete is one of the most valuable investments you can make in your home or on a building project, and it is important to take care of this investment to reduce the chances of significant damage.
Proper care, sealing, and timely maintenance is crucial for maintaining concrete walls for years.