How To Fix Salt Damage On Concrete

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante
Credit: Shutterstock / Watcharakoon Saithanoo

Many of us rely on salt to protect our driveways from snow and ice. However, salt does more bad than good, and it can significantly damage concrete. Many homeowners understandably struggle with how to fix salt damage on concrete.

The best way to fix salt damage on concrete is to remove and replace the damaged sections with professional help. Otherwise, you can resurface the concrete if the damage isn’t too deep. You can prevent salt damage on concrete if you seal the surface once every 5 years, so your driveway is less porous.

Use calcium chloride instead of salt, so you don’t damage your concrete driveway. Concrete is porous and salt can damage it quickly. Follow along as we explore how to fix and prevent salt damage on concrete.

Why Does Salt Damage Concrete?

Salt damages concrete because of how it affects water. Salt lowers the freezing point of water, leading to a repeated freeze-thaw cycle, which can significantly weaken the surface of the concrete. So, the water in the concrete freezes, turns into ice, thaws, and then freezes again.

Eventually, this takes a toll on the concrete and can chip it away. Salt doesn’t directly damage concrete, but the way it affects water does. Concrete is so porous that salt can easily seep into it.

That’s why you will notice salt remnants even after you clean your driveway or sidewalk. You can clear away the salt if you get your driveway wet then scrub it with a mixture of water and vinegar. It’s best to do this as soon as possible to minimize the salt damage.

How To Tell Your Driveway Has Salt Damage

You can tell your driveway has salt damage if the surface appears chipped. Other signs, such as discoloration and cracks, can tell you that erosion has occurred. This problem will only get worse over time if you live in an area with harsh winters.

Scaling and pitting are also clear signs of salt damage that can make your driveway look bad. That’s why you must be careful about how much salt or sand you put on your driveway. Salt damage can appear right away if you use too much.

That’s especially true if you get a severe ice storm and heavy snow. Salt can damage concrete much faster than sand, but sand is harmful as well.

Can You Fix Salt Damage On Concrete?

Unfortunately, the best way to fix salt damage on concrete is to replace that section. Otherwise, you can simply seal the concrete to prevent further damage. That won’t fix the existing damage, but at least the problem won’t get worse.

It can cost as much as $3,000 to replace parts of your concrete driveway or walkway. The overall cost depends on how big the section is that you must replace. The project could cost under $1,000 if the section is small.

It’s an expensive process because they must first remove the damaged section. Removal alone costs up to $8 per square foot. Replacing the slabs themselves costs up to $15 per square foot. You can save money if you resurface your driveway, but that’s not as effective. Resurfacing costs at least $5 per square foot, but the damage may still be visible.

How To Prevent Salt Damage On Concrete

You can take several steps to prevent salt damage on concrete. The best option is to use something besides salt to protect your driveway. However, salt may be the most readily available material for you to use. Let’s look at the best ways to prevent salt damage on concrete without spending a fortune.

Use Calcium Chloride

Calcium chloride is one of the best alternatives to salt. It can effectively prevent ice from forming on your concrete driveway, sidewalk, or walkway. Calcium chloride won’t damage the concrete like salt, and the de-icing results are even better.

That said, you must be careful when you treat concrete with calcium chloride. Make sure to wear gloves to prevent skin irritation. Calcium chloride can damage your eyes and skin, so be careful.

Seal The Surface

Salt is unlikely to damage your concrete driveway if you seal the surface. Sealants make the surface largely impenetrable, so even salt can’t get through it. The only downside to this method is that you must re-seal the surface every 5 years.

You can find both water-based and solvent-based sealants that are quite effective. Solvent-based sealants are the best option if you want to also protect your driveway from oil and grease. Otherwise, a water-based sealant should be enough to prevent salt damage.

Maximize Drainage

Does your driveway have a drain? If so, you must clean it before you treat your driveway with salt. A clogged drain will increase the chances that the salt will damage your driveway.

The salt won’t have anywhere to go, so it will pool near the drain. It’s a great idea to clean the drain a few times per year to prevent flooding near your garage.

Plow Your Driveway

Is your driveway covered with snow and ice? If so, the salt will only increase the pressure of the ice, and that can damage the concrete. That’s why it’s important to plow your driveway right away.

This will let you use your driveway much sooner, and it will minimize the risk of damage. Ideally, you should plow the snow several times throughout the day as snow continues to fall. This will ensure that the pressure doesn’t build too much to damage the concrete. However, you should only do this if it’s safe and not snowing heavily or freezing rain.

Summing It Up

You can fix salt damage on concrete if you replace the damaged sections or resurface them. Otherwise, the best option is to seal the surface to stop further salt damage. Use an alternative to ice, such as calcium chloride, to avoid concrete damage altogether.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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