How to Avoid Damaging Pavers During Winter

Concrete interlocking unit pavers are designed to be extremely resilient and long-lasting. With correct installation and a few simple maintenance precautions, they will last for years and years without problems.

The winter season is when a little extra care should be taken with your unit pavers, whether they are on your patio, walkway or driveway. Just as snow and ice and efforts to clear them can be hazardous to us, removal of snow and ice can cause potential problems for pavers.

Chemical Deicers and Pavers

Deicers are a fact of life in Ontario. Fortunately, concrete pavers are resistant to many types of deicing salts. In particular, one of the most common deicers- rock salt – which is sodium chloride, is safe to use on your pavers. These are probably the most common products for homeowners.

Magnesium-based deicers should be avoided. While they are effective for melting ice, they are much more likely to cause damage to the concrete paver surface.

Snow Removal

While serious damage is unlikely to result from scraping snow and ice off of your pavers, some surface scratching can occur. Metal blades from snow plows and snow shovels are the worst culprits. It is best to use shovels with plastic blades and snow plows and blowers that have plastic blade protectors.

Plan for Winter During the Design Phase

There are a couple of ways that advance planning can lessen maintenance work and keep your pavers free from damage.

1. Install a snow melt system

For areas with significant ice problems, consider installing a snow melt system under the pavers. Either an electric or glycol-based heating system will do much of the work involved in keeping your pavers from icing over. The initial expense is more, but long term savings of time and money can be significant. Floor heating manufacturers are a good source of information about these systems.

2. Ensure good drainage

Be sure your pavers are installed on a stable, compacted aggregate base with good drainage. This will prevent shifting and heaving of pavers from frequent freezing and thawing cycles.

3. Seal your pavers before winter

You may also want to use a sealer on your pavers before winter weather arrives. This will give them a little extra protection from chemicals and deicers. Your paver supplier or installer can give you recommendations.

4. Clean pavers in spring

When spring or a mid-winter warm spell arrives, hose off your pavers to remove any residue from salts and deicers.

If you have taken these few basic precautions, your pavers will look almost new, free of any ill effects from winter and all that it brings.

If you have a question about how to protect or maintain your concrete pavers, contact us for advice.

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