Concrete Spalling And Its Remedies

Posted on: 6 April 2016

In order for concrete to dry or cure, the water in the driveway has to be able to escape. This occurs as water seeps into the ground, but also as water vapor escapes through the surface of the concrete. As the concrete cures, the escaping water vapor will leave tiny holes in the surface of the concrete; these holes are known as capillaries. While they might not be visible to the naked eye, they can make a big impact in terms of the life of your driveway.   


Spalling is the word used in the construction industry to describe the process by which the top layer of concrete flakes off, revealing the rough aggregate surface that lies beneath. Spalling occurs as water seeps into the capillaries in the top layer of the concrete. Typically, these capillaries do not extend very deep into the concrete, but when water freezes in these capillaries, it expands and the force thus created can cause the top layer of concrete to flake away. 

Conditions that Contribute to Spalling

The chemicals in some deicers can eat away at your driveway and expand the capillaries in your concrete. Thus, before you buy a deicer, you should make sure that it is safe to use on your driveway. Furthermore, even if you use a "safe" deicer, you should avoid overuse. Do not put ice melt down to prevent snow from sticking. Instead, you should only use deicer to help remove any ice that forms on your driveway. 

Steps for Repairing Spalling

If you do nothing to correct spalling, the process can repeat itself in the next layer of your driveway as water leaks into the capillaries found in the next layer and creates further deterioration. Thus, you will need to apply a thin layer of concrete in order to restore the aesthetics of your driveway as well as to prevent future damage. While you can find some spalling repair compounds at home improvement stores, you will typically get the best results by trusting concrete repair to the experts. 

Concrete driveways tend to be more durable than asphalt driveways. On the other hand, if the concrete used in your driveway was poured while still very wet, or it took too long to dry, the number of capillaries increases. In any case, if your driveway starts to spall, you should see it as a call to action. For the future strength of your driveway, it is generally better to act before more damage occurs rather than to wait.  

Contact a local outlet, such as Ingratta Cement & Drainage Inc, for further assistance.