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Concrete Concerns: What Is Concrete Scaling And How To Address It?


Concrete Scaling

Concrete is renowned for its durability and strength, which is why it’s a favored choice for driveways, sidewalks, and numerous construction projects. Yet, like all materials, concrete isn’t immune to issues. One problem that can plague homeowners and contractors alike is concrete scaling. Understanding this issue, its causes, and how to address it is essential for anyone dealing with concrete surfaces.

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Diving Into Concrete Scaling

Concrete scaling, at its core, refers to the flaking or peeling away of the surface layer of a concrete slab. It typically manifests as small, shallow patches where the concrete appears chipped. As time progresses and if left untreated, these patches can grow in size and depth, exposing the aggregate underneath.

What Causes Concrete Scaling?

Several Factors Can Lead To Concrete Scaling:

  • Improper Curing: Concrete needs to be cured properly to achieve its desired strength and durability. If it’s not kept moist during the curing phase or if it dries too quickly, the risk of scaling increases.
  • Freeze-Thaw Cycles: Water expands when it freezes. If water seeps into the concrete and then freezes, it can cause the surface to flake and scale.
  • Use of Deicing Salts: This brings us to the negatives of using salt. Salts and de-icing chemicals, when used on concrete surfaces, can aggravate the freeze-thaw cycles, leading to accelerated concrete scaling.

Difference Between Concrete Spalling And Scaling

It’s common to hear the terms “spalling” and “scaling” used interchangeably, but there are distinct differences between the two:

  • Depth: Scaling refers to the top layer of concrete, usually just a few millimeters deep. Spalling, on the other hand, goes deeper into the concrete, exposing more of the aggregate.
  • Appearance: While both manifest as flaking or chipping, spalling often looks like bigger chunks or pits in the concrete, whereas scaling is generally more superficial and widespread.
  • Causes: Both can be caused by freeze-thaw cycles and the use of deicing salts. However, spalling can also result from corrosion of reinforcing steel, or even from a combination of freeze-thaw cycles, salt, and chloride exposure.

Addressing Concrete Scaling

If you’re facing issues with concrete scaling, here’s a guide on how to address the problem:

  • Sealing the Concrete: Applying a quality sealer can act as a barrier, preventing water ingress and reducing the risks of freeze-thaw damage.
  • Use Safe Alternatives to Salt: As highlighted, salts accelerate concrete degradation. Switching to a chemical and toxin-free, industrial-use ice melt like Safe Thaw not only preserves your concrete but also reduces the environmental impact. Safe Thaw’s granular ice melt ensures that your driveway remains ice-free without compromising the integrity of your concrete.
  • Repair Damaged Areas: It’s essential to address scaled areas promptly to prevent further damage. Remove loose and damaged concrete, clean the area, and apply a concrete resurfacer.

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In Conclusion

Concrete scaling, while common, can be a significant concern for homeowners and professionals alike. By understanding its causes and distinguishing it from spalling, one can take effective measures to prevent and treat it. Remember, when winter arrives, and you’re reaching for a solution to deal with ice, consider the impact on your concrete. Choose wisely, and opt for environmentally-friendly solutions like Safe Thaw to ensure the longevity of your concrete surfaces.

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