Winter is here. Snow and sleet are coming. Before you scatter the de-icing salt on your Hardscape, read up on how to best care for your pavers during these cold months.
The most important thing to do for Hardscape throughout the winter is to quickly clear it of as much snow as possible using gentle tools. We asked our resident expert Mark Antunes to explain: “Pavers can be plowed and shoveled just like asphalt or concrete pavements. A plow with a UHMW Polyethylene blade edge on the bottom of the plow is recommended to avoid marring the paver surface. If you are plowing or using a snowblower, do not use chains on the tires. Chains can gouge or scuff the surface of the pavers.” Avoid chopping ice using metal shovels as their sharp edges can damage your pavers.
Physical snow removal is preferable to chemical methods, but there are times when a little bit of help is needed to keep the walkways safe. Although EP Henry’s pavers are made to last, harsh chemicals shouldn’t be used on the pavers. Mr. Antunes adds that all ice melting products will have some effect upon concrete. Sodium chloride, i.e., “rock salt”, is the most harmful to pavers (and any concrete surface). Calcium chloride is preferable to rock salt for snow and ice removal. It is less damaging to the concrete pavers. Mr. Antunes adds, “Products that use Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) such as Fusion Melt, EnvironMelt, or Majestic Snow and Ice Melt are considered to be the most effective and least harmful deicers to use on your EP Henry paving stone installation. Use only as much deicing product as needed and remove any excess that remains after a snow or ice event.”
The New York Landmark Conservancy, a group dedicated to preserve the historical buildings in NYC, warns homeowners against using de-icing products containing ammonium nitrate or ammonium sulfate; These chemicals can also break down and damage masonry (i.e., stone, brick, concrete block or tile) at a quicker rate than any other de-icing chemical. Mr. Antunes directs customers seeking more information to the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute’s website at www.ICPI.org.
De-icing salts may not be needed if the snow is removed quickly and the temperature raises above freezing. The sand set installation method and chamfers on pavers help facilitate snow melting and drying up, which helps reduce issues from sitting water freezing like it does on common road surfaces like asphalt. Assess your walkways after snow removal. Use gentle deicing salts in the areas where people could slip. The ICPI warns against using sand on paver systems for traction for vehicles or foot traffic. (The Institute also notes that a new Hardscape can benefit from a dedicated heating system installed underneath the pavers. That’s an option in the design stage. Check out ICPI Tech Spec 12 for more information.
Pavers will withstand Jack Frost’s touch, but a little help from you will keep them in top shape throughout the winter. You’ll still want to get out there for a fire pit night or snowman fun, so some quick upkeep now will go a long way.