The Effect of Deicers on Concrete

The Effect of Deicers on Concrete

You’ve probably heard lots of advice on what deicers are safe to use and which aren’t on concrete surfaces.  The frustrating part comes when that advice is confusing, contradictory or generally based more on something people have heard rather than hard evidence.  That’s where science comes to the rescue!

Researchers at the University of Kansas sought to answer this question once and for all in a recent study on the effects of deicers on concrete deterioration.  They exposed samples of concrete to four of the most common deicing agents – sodium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate.  The study ran for 95 weeks, with regular cycles of wetting and drying.

As a general rule, they found that sodium chloride was the safest deicing substance.  Significant quantities of any of the other three will impact the long-term durability of your concrete.  That’s not to say they all affected it in the same way, but sodium chloride was the clear overall winner.

At low concentrations, calcium chloride had a relatively small negative impact, just like regular old sodium chloride.  That’s more damage than the control concrete suffered, but nothing too drastic.  The other two, however, caused measurable damage, even at low concentrations.

When the concentrations were cranked up, the results got worse.  Even sodium chloride caused measurable damage, highlighting the danger of over-deicing your surfaces.  The other three, however, were much, much more harmful – creating significant changes in concrete that result in loss of material and reduced stiffness and strength.

In short?  Stick with rock salt for your new concrete surface when possible.  It’s not as fast as some of the other alternatives, but it will cause the least problems for your concrete over time.  If you must use something stronger for extremely harsh conditions, calcium chloride is your next best bet.  Avoid magnesium, and definitely avoid ammonium – ammonium based deicers chemically damage your concrete.  As always, use caution and common sense, and your concrete will likely be just fine.

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Guide to Maintaining a Concrete Driveway

One of the best features of a concrete driveway is the lack of regular routine care – it’s a strong, durable surface that can withstand a great deal of punishment.  That doesn’t mean that it’s entirely maintenance free, however – proper preventative maintenance can seriously extend the life of your surface and make sure your investment lasts as long as possible.  Here are our top tips:

Reapply Sealer As Needed

Keeping your driveway sealed prevents water from entering the surface, which can be a source of cracking and other damage in Ontario’s harsh freeze-thaw cycles.  There is no magic number for how often you should reseal your concrete; it will depend on the weather conditions it’s exposed to and the amount of traffic it receives.  As a general rule of thumb, resealing it every two years is a good plan.

Remove Stains Immediately

Concrete sealer does help prevent stains from being absorbed, but that doesn’t mean it’s impervious to stains.  Don’t let oil, gasoline or grease stains sit on your concrete; it will discolor it and ruin the aesthetic appeal.  If it does discolor, pressure washing is often enough to remove the stains, though there are also chemical cleaners you can buy if that doesn’t do the trick.

Avoid Deicing Chemicals

A recent study showed that using deicers containing ammonium nitrates and ammonium sulphates attack your concrete on a chemical level, in addition to the scaling and spalling caused by forcing moisture to thaw and refreeze.  Rock salt or calcium chloride is less harmful to your concrete, though they can harm vegetation and metal.  In general, try to deice as little as possible, especially in the first year of your concrete’s lifecycle.

A Little Care Goes A Long Way

It may be concrete, but it’s not impervious.  Residential driveways aren’t designed to handle, for example, large construction equipment or fully loaded moving trucks.  Use your new surface wisely and avoid subjecting it to excessive strains and loads, and your concrete will continue to look good for years to come.

Why is my Concrete Cracking

Why is my Concrete Cracking?

All driveways will eventually age and crack as the materials age and break down – but that’s something you should be dealing with in 15 or 20 years, not in the first few years after installation!

So, what is causing those cracks?  Here are a few of the most common sources of concrete or asphalt cracking – and how you can avoid them.

Freeze/Thaw Cycle

The single biggest source of cracks in the Toronto area is the freeze/thaw cycle.  Melted snow will seep into the pores in your concrete.  When it freezes again, it expands – and that causes the damage and cracking.  Salting your driveway only makes things worse; it gets into your surface and then attracts water, lowering its freezing point, and making more freeze/thaw problems.  Avoid using rock salt, and instead use calcium chloride – that lowers the freezing point far enough that those freeze/thaw cycles will be less common.  Sealing your concrete will help prevent the salt and water from penetrating in the first place, helping preserve your surface.

Heavy Loads

We may think of concrete or asphalt as indestructible, but in reality, it’s like any other surface.  If you had a parking lot made of glass, you’d expect heavy loads to crack it.  The same is true for concrete; we’re just talking much, much larger loads.  Vehicles weighing north of 5,000 kg can end up doing serious damage to your surface – and those cracks can be entry points for water for future damage.  If you’re expecting particularly heavy vehicles, you’ll need more heavy-duty concrete or other materials to withstand the load.

Sharp Objects

Those studded winter tires?  Snowblower blades?  Even the scraping of a snow shovel?  They can easily chip or crack concrete driveways.  If you must use metal, be very careful – and, when possible, use plastic shovels and tools.  They’ll chip before your driveway will!

4 Tips for Hiring a Driveway Contractor

4 Tips for Hiring a Driveway Contractor

If you’re looking for a reliable driveway contractor in the Greater Toronto Area, we humbly suggest that you won’t find anyone better than Epic Paving and Contracting.  That being said, you don’t have to just take our word for it – you should do your due diligence, first.  We believe that you’ll find, when all is said and done, that we’re the best option in the area.

If you don’t live in the GTA – or just want to make sure you know what you’re getting into – here are our top tips for hiring a driveway contractor.

Credentials, Credentials, Credentials

Any company you trust to do major work on your property should be fully licensed, bonded and insured.  Ask to see their health and safety credentials, as well; these independent credentialing organizations protect both the consumer and the contractor from danger or negligence.

Testimonials

Check out the company in question on sites like HomeStars, Houzz and the BBB to see what other clients are saying about them.  You ideally want a long trail of satisfied customers – a company’s past work is the best indicator of their future performance.

First-Hand Evidence

A good driveway contractor will have addresses of driveways they’ve worked on in your immediate area.  Go check them out for yourself!  It’s worth the time and effort to drive by and check out the handiwork and final products.  Driveways are fairly easy to check out without having to enter private property, so take advantage of that fact!

Experienced Crews

Working with a fast-setting material like asphalt requires precision work to be done both quickly and efficiently.  A large, experienced crew is vital to making sure the job is done properly and not just quickly.  You want your contractor’s crew to have years of experience paving driveways and working with asphalt or concrete – experience can make all the difference between a driveway that lasts 10 years and one that lasts 30.

How to Pick a Commercial Paving Company

How to Pick a Commercial Paving Company

Picking the proper paving company is a key part of any home or business improvement you have in mind.  Getting sub-par or untrustworthy contractors leads to pain and troubles – not to mention extra expenses – down the road.  Obviously, we recommend Epic Paving and Contracting for all your asphalt, concrete and interlocking needs.  If you want to do your due diligence, however – or if you’re reading this from somewhere outside the Greater Toronto Area – here are some things to look for when making your paving company selection.

References

Ideally, you’re looking for a company that’s been in business for multiple years, with a list of successful projects they can show you.  If possible, it’s a great idea to visit a couple of the sites with their work – is it cracked and breaking, or has it held up over time?  Asking for a list of references and testimonials is a good first step towards weeding out the less scrupulous companies.

Ability to Meet Requirements

Not all paving companies are made equally, and not all paving jobs require the same touch.  There are specific circumstances and considerations to take into account in any paving job.  The best of the best companies will be able to handle any surface you throw at them, meeting all your particular needs and requirements.  They should offer a consultation, going with you to the site to help you formulate a plan of attack, rather than just trying to sell you a one-size-fits-all plan.

Repairs

Reliable paving companies will have some sort of warranty or repair deal included in the contract.  While they’ll lay down your new surface with the best of care, sometimes problems do occur – and you want to ensure that your chosen company will come back to fix any issues as they occur.  In addition, any surface will need periodic repairs or maintenance as they age.  Find out whether your company offers specific repairs that you think you may need – pothole repair, patching, sealcoating, etc.

The Benefits of Asphalt Driveways

The Benefits of Asphalt Driveways

Considering a new asphalt driveway?  Then you have made an excellent choice.  Asphalt driveways have a huge number of benefits when compared to competing surfaces, and we here at Epic Paving highly recommend them.  Here are just a few of its major benefits:

Installation Speed

Compared to other surfaces, asphalt is quick and easy to install.  It can usually be laid in just one or two days, and ready to use a couple days after that in good weather.  Other surfaces can take as long as a week to lay, set and cure before they can be used.  The inconveniences that go along with having a driveway installed are greatly reduced with asphalt.

Durability

Asphalt is significantly less likely to crack over time than concrete or other surfaces.  It also isn’t negatively affected by the salt used to melt ice and snow – important factors to consider in Ontario’s harsh winters.

Lower Maintenance

Most problems that develop in asphalt can be fixed quickly and inexpensively.  Crack sealant is readily available at hardware stores and is easy to apply, even if you have no previous paving experience.  Regular preventative maintenance – filling cracks, sealcoating and general upkeep – can extend the life of your asphalt to 20 years or more.  Other surfaces are more difficult and time-consuming to repair, potentially limiting their shelf lives.

Snow Benefits

Most asphalt is black.  That means it draws in and retains more of the sun’s heat, trapping it and serving as natural insulation.  This means during winter, the snow melts faster on asphalt driveways than it would on concrete or interlocking pavers.  This improves safety, as you’ll have less snow to worry about when driving, and also saves you a load of time shoveling.

There are a great many benefits to asphalt for a wide variety of paving needs.  Contact Epic Paving today to learn more!

The Benefits of Porous Asphalt

The Benefits of Porous Asphalt

You may have heard about porous asphalt, or permeable pavements.  They’ve been proving their worth as a hard-working, durable surface for 40 years now, allowing water to drain through the surface into the soil below – preventing buildup of storm water and helping prevent water-based damage, which is important in Toronto’s harsh winters.  But what exactly is porous asphalt, and how does it benefit you?

Simply put, porous asphalt allows water to drain through the asphalt into the stone bed below.  As the water drains through the asphalt, it slowly infiltrates into the soil below.  The size and depth of the stone bed will depend on the exact details of the installation; it needs to be deep enough so that the water level never rises to the asphalt itself.

Porous asphalt has two major benefits – one for the environment, and one for your wallet!

Environmentally, porous asphalt is very green – it doesn’t interrupt the natural water cycle, allowing rain and storm water to enter the soil as it would if there wasn’t an asphalt surface there to begin with.  It also creates cooler asphalt temperatures (due to its open structure) and reduces the demand on storm sewer systems.  It helps replenish the water table and aquifers in your area, without bringing with it harmful runoff in terms of oil or grease from your surface.

For your pocketbook, installation of porous asphalt means less money spent installing a storm-water management solution; storm water will naturally seep into the soil without requiring channeling or retention ponds.  Also, it removes any potential impact fees charged when water run-off from parking lots overwhelm the storm sewer system; because there’s no water run-off, there’s no chance of overwhelming the system.  This makes it a very economical choice.

Yes, some aspects of construction – including the underlying stone bed – are marginally more expensive than a standard asphalt parking lot, but it ends up paying for itself in the long run, especially when you consider the value of the land that not having storm-water management features installed will open up.

Porous asphalt is a great choice for any business.  Contact Epic Paving today to find out what we can do for you!

How to Handle an Old Concrete Driveway

How to Handle an Old Concrete Driveway

After a while, even the best-laid concrete driveways will begin to show their age.  From discolorations to cracks, you’ll eventually lose the luster and yard appeal a brand new driveway can give you.  But what should you do with an old concrete driveway?  There are several options to choose from, depending on your specific needs and situation.

Repair

Your driveway may simply need to be resurfaced.  If it’s experiencing cracking, scaling or spalling – but not severe damage to the subbase – resurfacing can help restore your concrete to a nearly new state.  Resurfacing doesn’t just cover up the existing flaws in your concrete; it can help you create a brand new look with a variety of patterns and colors of stamped concrete.

If your underlying concrete is still structurally sound, concrete resurfacing can be a way to give it a facelift, restoring it to its original beauty and repairing the superficial damage that use and weather can cause.  Epic Paving and Contracting offers professional repair and resurfacing for cracks in concrete.  We seal cracks, repair patches, and much more.    You can contact us for a consultation, and we can examine your driveway and discern whether resurfacing is right for you.

Replacement

Not all concrete damage can be fixed with a resurfacing.  If you have widespread, deep cracks where settlement has occurred, or sunken concrete, any repair work will be temporary – and probably too temporary to really justify the time and expense.  In these cases, replacement makes much more sense.  This involves removing the concrete and sub grade entirely and starting from scratch.

From there, of course, you have options – you could replace it with a new concrete driveway, or opt for a different material such as asphalt.  If you’re planning on replacing a concrete driveway with asphalt, it’s best to remove the entire concrete driveway anyway due to the differing requirements in the subbase.  Either way, you don’t want to do a quick patch job that won’t hold up – if the damage becomes too severe, it’s time to replace with something long-lasting and well-designed.  Epic Paving can help ensure your new driveway will stand the test of time.

The Benefits of Permeable Pavers

The Benefits of Permeable Pavers

Why choose permeable pavers for your yard?  They’re a wonderful choice for adding or modifying your hardscape architecture.  For reasons both aesthetic and ecological, they’re often your best choice.  Here are just a few of the many benefits of permeable pavers:

Surface Water Management

The key is in the name, here – “permeable”.  Permeable pavers allow water to penetrate its surface and seep down into the ground.  That’s a natural and environmentally sensitive way to handle the issue of standing water, which can damage patios, walkways and the like.  Any sort of sustainable installation needs to handle that runoff well, and using permeable pavers reduces runoff pollution.  It’s an environmentally-friendly choice!

Cooler Surfaces

Because pavers allow the water to filtrate into the ground, they are cooler than comparable impervious surfaces.  Asphalt or concrete on a hot summer’s day can become very hot indeed; permeable pavers will often be several degrees cooler in the summer.  You can add to that effect by picking light-colored pavers; that will also help reflect sunlight and heat, reducing the ambient temperature even further.

Aesthetics

Plain old concrete can be boring to look at – though stamped concrete options do exist.  Asphalt can be high maintenance and crack – great for a driveway, but not so great for your backyard.  Pavers, however, come in a wide variety of styles, colors and patterns, and their installation can take many different forms and shapes.  No matter what design you have in mind for your backyard, permeable pavers can help add that little extra aesthetic spark to it.

Epic Paving has been adding distinguished elegance to properties with interlocking stones for over 20 years, and you’ll be amazed at the quality of our workmanship.  We’ll help you pick the right pavers and design that fits your plan and budget.  From the moment we start on the sub-base to the final stages of cleanup, we take every possible step to leave your property with a great-looking (and exceptionally durable) feature.

How to Maintain Your Interlocking Patio

How to Maintain Your Interlocking Patio

An interlocking patio is a great choice – easy to maintain and long-lasting, it provides a great aesthetic look to your backyard while also being highly functional.

Of course, like any other surface, it’s important to take proper care of your new interlocking patio to get the best long-term performance out of it.  Here are some tips on how to keep your interlocking patio looking pristine and new for years to come.

Sweep Often

This is both for obvious reasons – dirt, leaves and yard waste don’t make for great looking patios! – but sweeping also includes a preventative element.  If you leave too much built-up dirt, grass seeds can easily sprout.  Once grass gets an opening, it’s a nightmare to remove – and it can even crack cement, much less interlocking pavers.  Nip that problem in the bud!  If weeds or grass do get a foothold, white vinegar and dishwashing soap is a great way to kill any vegetation that you can find.

Remove Stains

A soft wire brush is a great way to get rid of any stains on your patio.  You don’t want to use a course or stiff brush, because that can leave a mark on the pavers themselves.  A soft brush allows you to get the necessary oomph to remove stains without damaging the pavers.

Pressure Wash

Pressure washing is a fine for stone and brick patios, but be a little careful.  You want to aim at the stones themselves, and not at the grout, which will be less resilient.  We recommend starting with lower power and ramping up as you see how effective it can be, rather than starting out too strong.

Seal Regularly

We advise that patios be sealed once every three years.  This helps prevent the polymeric sand from degrading – that helps prevent weeds from breaking through your surface.  It also keeps your grout looking great, and that can be the most difficult part of a patio to clean.