Are Your Concrete Sidewalks In Need Of Replacement Or Just Simple Repair?

Concrete sidewalks have taken quite a beating this winter while contending with extreme weather conditions in the Northeast.  Mother Nature’s delivery of snow, ice and below-freezing temperatures have left many outdoor surfaces in dire need of repair and replacement. Although concrete is known to be durable and require a minimal amount of care, the ground beneath the surface periodically shifts due to erosion, freezing/thawing or simple settling of the soil, which can cause dangerous conditions as well as an unsightly appearance.

Of course, your first priority is the safety of your family, guests and/or patrons.  Cracked walkways can be a real safety hazard.  Many home insurance companies inspect the properties that they insure every so often and may require that cracked sidewalks be repaired as a condition of continued coverage, since having a cracked walk in front of a house is a hazard that can lead to bodily injury liability issues for the homeowner.  Besides eliminating any trip hazards, you also want your property have great curb-appeal.  After spending countless weekends primping, pruning and landscaping, why allow a cracked walkway to ruin the home’s aesthetic that you’ve worked so hard to achieve?

If the damage to the pathway is minor, you may be able to repair the affected section, as opposed to replacing the entire walk.  In most cases, surface cracks can be patched with poured concrete.  But since patches are prone to chips and cracks from expansion and contraction due to temperature changes, it is a fast but temporary fix.  Elevated cracks with less than a 1 1/3” difference in elevation can also be patched or ramped.  This should easily eliminate the trip hazard but will also be prone to freeze-thaw damage over time.

Grinding is also a common method used to remove trip hazards of one inch or less on concrete walks. A grinder uses steel teeth to remove the unleveled surface of the material in order to make it more level. Some grinding machinery can gouge, pit, chip and crack the surface, therefore weakening the slabs and shortening their lifespan.  It is also difficult to use this machinery in tight spaces, such as areas that adjoin lamp posts, trees, walls and fences, making the process less than ideal for all conditions.

If the damage is too great to effectively repair with patching, ramping or grinding, saw cutting may offer a solution to replacement.  Saw cutting minimizes concrete damage, as it cuts away the affected area rather than grinding or pounding the material. Because of its precision and quality, it’s possible to remove trip hazards in difficult to reach places.  Saw cut sidewalks generally result in a neater and cleaner appearance than walks that have been patched or ground.

If the damage is too great for repair, you may need to replace a section of the sidewalk between two of the expansion joints, or replace the walk in its entirety.  Make sure that the subgrade and/or sub-base is properly graded, compacted and of uniform stiffness before laying the concrete in order to avoid differing frost or expansion characteristics that can lead to additional cracking.

Sidewalks come in a close second to driveways in the amount of traffic they receive. And just like driveways, they often get more wear and abuse from chemical deicers than they can handle.  Hard surface repair will most likely be just another task to add to your growing list of chores this spring, but repairing or replacing your cracked, chipped, or spalled concrete doesn’t have to be such a daunting task.  The good news is that with proper construction, maintenance and care, your walkway can last up to 20 to 40 years.

For more information about the residential and commercial concrete services provided by Millenium Stone Works in Colts Neck, Holmdel, and Rumson NJ and Staten Island, call 732-519-1112 or 347-723-6990.

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