How to Keep Concrete Structures from Cracking in the Winter

Like it or not, old man winter will soon be here and he’ll bring with him all of his cold weather might.  Winter is easily the harshest time of the year as it brings cloudy, damp days, below freezing temperatures, snow, wind and frost.  Materials that are left exposed to the elements suffer most since the fluctuations in temperatures cause them to expand and contract from day to day.  This often has a very negative effect on brickwork and concrete.

Since these two materials are porous, the frigid temperatures often cause moisture in brick and concrete to freeze and expand.   As the temperatures increase above freezing, the moisture heats up and eventually evaporates.  The issue, however, has already begun as cracking within the concrete has already started.  The next time moisture enters the brick or concrete, it will cause an even larger crack until eventually it ends up structurally useless and crumbles to pieces.  At that point, your only option will be to call a concrete contractor or mason to replace the material.

As is true in most cases, maintaining something in good working order is less costly than waiting until it’s too late and having to make large repairs or replacing it.  Below are a few tips to keep your concrete in good shape and prevent spalling.

Patch or Repair

This one might seem a bit obvious, but most people are intimidated by concrete work so it never gets done.  Before you know it, it’s too late.  The best way to keep concrete from cracking too deep is to catch it when you first see it.  Your big box store has simple products such as Quikrete’s Polyurethane Concrete Crack Sealant that is extremely easy and quick to apply.  This flexible sealant adheres extremely well to concrete and will expand and contract with your concrete to always maintain that seamless look.

For slabs of concrete that are showing cracks larger than a quarter inch, its best that you call a professional concrete repair company to inspect what you have going on.  Allow them to advise you of next steps, and if you’re feeling adventurous, take on a new concrete challenge.

A Spalling Solution

Once you’ve addressed all the small cracks and pits that need to be addressed, take the next layer of prevention by applying a surface spalling compound to the affected area.  This gets applied on a much larger area, but before you do anything, you’ll need to make sure that the flooring is completely clean of dirt, grime and other debris. 

The easiest way to do this is with a power washer.  The spalling solution binds and adheres directly onto the concrete and creates a seamless looking layer that flexibly expands and contracts with the concrete itself.  This product is excellent to use on sidewalks, stairs, driveways, patios and any other concrete surfaces around the house. 


By now you’ve applied a couple of extra layers of protection to your concrete, but there is one more critical layer of protection that can be applied.  An acrylic sealant gets applied over the entire concrete slab and ensures that its pours are completely sealed to prevent the penetration of any moisture from entering. 

Though the sealant goes on clear, it will serve many purposes.  In addition, it will offer protection against damaging eroding chemicals and salts that are often used on sidewalks and stairs.  These de-icing products often slowly chip away at the concrete and before you know it, quarter-sized chunks of concrete are missing from the ground.   For best results, a concrete sealant can be applied annually in the early to mid-fall and will certainly help your concrete hold up for another harsh winter season.  Concrete can be difficult to work with once it’s too late, but habitually using these products are proven methods to extend the life of your concrete.