Concrete is an incredibly durable product. The concrete dome in Rome’s Pantheon, for example, is roughly 2,000 years old.

However, concrete does need regular maintenance to stay in top shape.

Here’s a look at how you can maintain your concrete surfaces to help ensure prime longevity:

  • Repair cracks. Water can cause great damage to concrete. Freeze–thaw cycles can hasten cracks, and water that makes its way to the concrete’s subgrade can cause erosion problems that weaken the structural integrity of the concrete. Over time, cracks can fill with dirt, which can be inviting homes for dandelions and other weeds whose roots can further damage your concrete. If you want your concrete to last, repair cracks as soon as possible. Has there been too much deferred maintenance? Here’s how to tell whether you need a new driveway.
  • Seal the surface and all joints. A good sealant not only helps repel water, but it also helps protect your concrete against harmful ultraviolet radiation. Sealing your concrete also helps prevent stains. Just remember that whatever remains on the concrete will get sealed in, so be sure to give it a good cleaning first.
  • Clean it. Cleaning concrete is a task more for looks than durability, but it you want your patio or driveway to keep looking like new, regular cleaning (at least once a year) is an important step. Cleaning concrete removes moss, dirt, grime and stains. A good summer pressure washing can help remove the grime deposited by months of fall, winter and spring rains (this is Whatcom County, after all). Look for a pressure washer that’s at least 2,000 psi. If you don’t have one, you can rent one in Whatcom County from Birch Equipment, Hardware Sales and United Rentals, among other places.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals. Many deicers are terrible for concrete and will hasten its demise. Products that contain calcium chloride, magnesium chloride or calcium magnesium acetate can cause scaling and pitting, among other problems. In addition, sodium chloride (also known as rock salt) can damage the metal rebar in concrete. Sand and cat litter are good options for providing traction.
  • If you have pervious concrete, an important maintenance step is to sweep or even vacuum it regularly to keep pine needles and other debris from clogging the pores. For more pervious concrete maintenance tips, you’ll want to read this article.

Whether it’s six months, six years or six decades old, concrete is an investment, and regular maintenance can keep your concrete patio or driveway looking and working its best.