Chasing Church Concrete Cracks: Maintenance Advice
Concrete is an excellent choice for both parking lots and sidewalks, providing stellar performance throughout its service life when it is mixed and cured properly. Unfortunately once the mix dries, the aging process begins. Proper ongoing maintenance can keep your concrete damage free and add to the value of your investment.
For starters, it is a good idea to high-pressure wash the surface at least once a year and inspect it for defects. Your parking lots and high traffic walkways should also be sealed every year. These surfaces are used continuously year-round and are usually hounded by plows, shovels, or snow blowers.
Sealing the surface is a simple and inexpensive process that will reduce wear on your concrete. Unsealed concrete is porous and will absorb water and any other liquids. With the high amount of traffic that your church receives and a short amount of time, these liquids will quickly wear down your concrete. As the top surface wears, the stones inside of the concrete are exposed. Once the surface is sealed, it must remain sealed.
Sand is the only material that should be used to melt snow and ice on the surface. Rock salt and deicers should never be used; they will accelerate the wear on the sealer and can potentially damage the concrete. Deicers inherently increase the number of freeze thaw cycles for the cement surface.
Do not use harsh acids for stain removal. Products specifically designed for the specific stain and for use on concrete are advised.
Ultraviolet light also affects the pigments within the concrete. Colors will fade if the surface is unsealed and is exposed to the sun. Maintaining a sealed surface will easily preserve your color.
If water enters cracks and holes, it may freeze and undermine the substrate. If this happens, the most effective concrete repair option is to remove and replace the deteriorated area.
Your concrete is subject to yearly freeze/thaw cycles. Expansion joints can be cut to allow for the expansion and contraction of the concrete slab. Cracks may appear over time if pressure on the concrete slab is not diverted into the expansion cuts. Even despite proper installation, cracks may still appear. In this case, it is advised to fill the crack and hide it by using color. That area should then be monitored yearly. Cracks are never fully repaired, they can only be filled. Even then a crack can resurface over time.
Proper yearly maintenance, sealing, and snow management will ensure that your church’s concrete surfaces remain beautiful for decades.
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