3 tips for caring for walkways and driveways

Keep up the curbside appeal of your house by caring for the ground of your driveway and walkway with these tips. 

 

1. Maintain the concrete

  • Expansion joints let sections of concrete expand and contract in response to temperature changes. Over time, these joints can also become the primary points at which water seeps in under the cement and causes cracks and erosion.
  • Seal any leaky joints in driveways and walkways with an epoxy joint sealant. Before applying the sealant with a caulk gun, sweep out the joint and scrub it clean.
  • Be cautious when using de-icers containing rock salt (sodium chloride) or magnesium chloride. They’re highly effective, but also highly corrosive to asphalt, brick, and concrete surfaces — not to mention auto bodies, lawns and wood floors. New de-icing products using calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), a noncorrosive, water-soluble acid, offer a safer, equally effective alternative, though they can cost up to five times as much as salt-based products.
  • If you stick with salt, look for a de-icer with added corrosion inhibitors.

2. Fix weeds

  • Kill weeds or grass growing in the crevices of walkways or between patio pavers by pouring a pot of boiling water over them.
  • You can also make an effective, all-natural weed killer by mixing 250 millimetres (one cup) of salt and five millimetres (one teaspoon) of dishwashing liquid in four litres (one gallon) of white vinegar.
  • Pour a small amount directly on weeds to stop them in their tracks.
  • Save noxious herbicides for serious weed invasions.

3. Spot fixes

  • If a concrete surface isn’t cured properly, the mix contained too much water, or if it is subjected to a heavy impact, the concrete will eventually chip or flake in a process called spalling. But you don’t have to repave the entire area. Instead, break up all the damaged concrete with a small sledgehammer (you should hear a hollow sound when you hit weakened concrete).
  • Using a wire brush, scrub the surface until all the loose material has been removed, then rinse well. Once it has dried, cover the surface with latex patching compound or a mixture of portland cement, fine sand, and water. Smooth it with a steel trowel or a wood float.
  • If there are large gaps — pencil-width or wider — where your sidewalk or stairs meet your foundation, water can seep into your basement, or freeze and expand causing greater damage.
  • Fill the gap with foam backer rod, apply a thick bead of urethane caulk, then use the back of a spoon dipped in mineral spirits to smooth the joint.

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