The leaves on the trees outside are changing colors, the temperature is dropping and you’re preparing your household to make the switch from summer to the cooler months.
Winter is on its way!
The arrival of fall means a redirection of your tasks – instead of cleaning the pool, you’re covering it up and before you mow your lawn, you need to rake the falling leaves. Instead of readying your patio for your next big cookout, you need to winterize it.
Why do you need to winterize your patio?
Winterizing your patio isn’t challenging, but it’s extremely important – especially if it’s made of concrete.
Even the slightest movement of the ground can cause concrete to develop cracks. During the winter, any moisture that collects in these cracks or within the concrete itself can freeze, which makes the concrete expand. This type of damage to the structural integrity of the concrete can be some of the harshest and shorten the life of your patio.
Our most cherished winter allies – the shovel and rock salt – can also cause damage to your concrete. When shoveling snow, your shovel will scrape and scratch unprotected concrete, and rock salt can eat away at its surface.
That’s why concrete sealer is so important to the protection of your patio.
How does sealer protect your concrete patio?
Sealer creates a protective barrier that guards your concrete against winter weather and any other harsh conditions. It also helps to prevent moisture from sitting in the pores and any cracks that would then freeze and expand, resulting in damage and erosion to the concrete.
If you have acid stained your concrete, then you definitely need to make sure you apply a sealer. Anything that affects the concrete will also affect your concrete acid stain – so if you have ice melters eroding the surface of your concrete, then your acid stain will go along with it.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that your furniture can damage your sealer. If you have anything metal or plastic on your patio – furniture, planters, pots – it can cause small areas of moisture retention where it makes contact with the concrete. This is likely to result in additional wear and discoloration. So if it’s possible, make sure to move your furniture and accessories from your patio through the cooler months.
What kind of sealer should you use?
There are an array of sealers that you can choose, but the best one for this purpose is a breathable sealer. A sealer being “breathable” means that it allows a certain amount of moisture to escape through it.
When the ground is saturated wet for long periods of time, the moisture can begin to wick through the concrete and attempt to reach the surface to escape. A non-breathable sealer doesn’t allow it to escape, so water – being the mighty warrior it is – will continue to attack the sealer’s bond to the concrete until it is eventually broken. This can result in white patchy areas that will eventually start to peel.
When should you reseal your concrete?
There isn’t a certain time period in which you need to reseal your concrete. Instead, you can tell it needs to be resealed by its appearance. If your concrete is beginning to look dull and worn or if the colors seem less vibrant, it’s time to apply your sealer again.
Another cost-efficient option is to apply a fresh coat of concrete wax on top of your sealer each spring and fall. Concrete wax provides a UV resistant sacrificial coat that is less slippery than sealer alone. It is also less expensive than buying more sealer and is easier to maintain.
There you have it – preparing for the winter months isn’t hard to do, but you will be so happy you took the time when your concrete stays healthy and vibrant for years to come!