How to Keep Your Concrete Driveway Efflorescence-Free
Efflorescence is an inevitable problem that always comes with most concrete. Old and poorly maintained driveways made with concrete are often peppered with efflorescence. As stamped and decorative concrete driveways are becoming more and more popular, more people are also starting to feel the begrudging effects of this material.
Unsightly efflorescence, especially those that are trapped under a film-forming sealer, is painful to the eyes and unappealing to guests or customers alike. For this reason, many home and business owners are clamouring for answers as to how and why this happens.
Fortunately, we have experts here at Decorative Concrete SEQ who have shared their personal opinions on the matter. Given their experience and knowledge, the tips and knowledge they will share here might serve as your guide to an efflorescence-free concrete driveway. We will take a look into what causes efflorescence and what you can do about it. But first, let’s take a look at what efflorescence is.
What is efflorescence?
You might have an idea what efflorescence is. But in case you haven’t, efflorescence is the white splotches that can be seen on top of exposed concrete driveways. Outdoor floors that are made with porous tiles and slabs can be susceptible to efflorescence, too. Even on sealed floors, efflorescence can still penetrate and appear as a white blush.
Many situations can cause efflorescence to easily develop. For now, let’s look at the science behind it. Concrete driveways are typically situated on top of the soil. Over time, water can accumulate in the soil beneath the concrete driveways. In hot weather, this water evaporates into the air through the slab (since concrete is porous).
The water dissipates into the air, but the minerals that come with it don’t. Salt, lime, and other soluble minerals sit on the surface of the concrete and turn into white crystalline deposits instead, or what we commonly know now as efflorescence.
Efflorescence on unsealed concrete can be worn off or washed away with a mild acid rinse. What you really have to watch out for is efflorescence that gets trapped under the sealer. This can be quite unappealing to look at. It appears even worse on darker floors.
Trapped efflorescence can also build hydrostatic pressure if it cannot pass through the top coat. This leads to blistering that not only looks bad, but blisters can also damage the top coating of the sealer on your concrete driveway.
How to Get Rid of Efflorescence
Are you already suffering from the ghastly look of efflorescence on your sealed concrete driveway? If you are, then you have come to the right place. We also have a list here of ways on how to get rid of efflorescence for good.
If you want a quick fix, then you can use toluene, xylene, or another coat of solvent-based acrylic. All these can emulsify the sealer once again. But perhaps the most important effect they do is that they can clear the white blush away.
Do know that this is not a permanent solution. Vapour can still continue to rise through the slab. You also have to be careful about the use of products such as toluene and xylene as direct exposure to their fumes can be dangerous.
2. Contact the Experts
If you are looking for a more permanent solution, then the best course of action would be to call for professional help. Professionals can help you in stripping the sealer off the driveway. Stripping the sealer is a crucial step towards restoring your driveway to its original beauty.
By stripping the sealer, they can now conduct a test to determine the rate of vapour transfer. They have the equipment and digital instruments necessary to get an accurate moisture reading below the surface of the slab. Once they have established all of the facts, they can then develop a remedial strategy to finally put a pin on your efflorescence problem.
It is important to get the sealing right this time around. So, allow them to take their time to assess the problem and come up with a solution that would permanently bring a stop to the emergence of efflorescence in your driveway. Another mistake will only set you back and you can face costly expenses just to take care of the same problem.
3. Choose the Right Sealer
Professional contractors like Decorative Concrete SEQ can also help you pick out the right sealer. There are all kinds of sealers available in the market today under different brands. Reputable contractors would already be very familiar with all the brands and will know which one will suit your driveway.
Some brands have vapour-inhibiting, non-film forming features that can help reduce the vapour transmission rate to the appropriate level. Others, on the other hand, have a milder effect. These are the ones you’d want to avoid.
What you also have to remember is that top coats are important, too. Even though the professionals are taking the reins, it doesn’t mean that you are exempt from the decision-making process. It is still your driveway, after all.
4. Consult with Another Contractor
In most cases, efflorescence can stem from the installation work itself. Poorly installed concrete driveways are more susceptible to efflorescence. You can always go back to your contractor and tell them what’s wrong, but if the same problem happens over and over again under their supervision, then perhaps it’s time to switch. Even though the blame is hard to prove, it is still best to hire another contractor to straighten out the problem.
Diagnosing the causes of your efflorescence problem can be hard, especially if it has already been sealed. But at least with a new contractor, you can gain a fresh perspective as to why it is happening. Does moisture exist in the slab? What is the source of the moisture? What is the best way to solve it? These questions can be answered by a new contractor.