When it comes to dealing with ice and snow removal, patio and driveway pavers are relatively easy to care for and actually withstand winter weather better than poured cement or concrete.
The damage to poured slabs is caused by the freeze-thaw cycles that repeatedly occur in colder climate zones. Melting snow and ice (water) seeps into the pores of the concrete. Once the temperature drops below freezing again, the water re-freezes and expands within, stressing the slab and eventually cracking it. This cycle repeats itself many times over throughout a rough winter.
On the other hand, because pavers are installed “independent” of one another and have narrow joints between them, they are able to tolerate repeated freeze/thaw cycles much better. This small gap allows the pavers to flex to adjust to the temporary frost heave.
Additionally, pavers have a greater resistance to de-icing products. This is due in part to their high cement content, strength, density and low absorption rate.
When installed correctly, your pavers will lie as smooth as poured concrete. In fact, the chamfered edges and joints between the pavers actually promote surface drainage of melting of snow and ice. Your pavers can be plowed and shoveled just like an asphalt or concrete sidewalk or driveway, but to ensure they maintain their beauty, EP Henry recommends the following tips:
- If it’s a light, dry snow, a gas powered leaf blower gets the job done with no chance of damage.
- In order to prevent scratching the paver’s surface, only use shovels with plastic blades or rubber tipped edges.
- If you are plowing, a rubber edge on the blade is recommended.
- Do not use chains on snow blower or plow tires.
- Sodium chloride (rock salt) will melt ice but can do harm to pavers (and any concrete surface for that matter). Calcium chloride will remove snow and ice and is less harmful when melting snow and ice. Products that use Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) such as Fusion Melt are considered to be the most effective and least harmful deicers to use on paving stone.
- Do not use sharp objects to chop ice, as this can damage the paver.
- Once your driveway or sidewalk is free from ice, it is recommended that you sweep the entire surface to remove the ice-melting product.
If you have a large expanse of pavers to remove snow from, consider hiring an area expert. Look for landscape companies who are experienced in paver installation; they’ll have the right equipment and know what precautions to take when cold weather hits.