Have you noticed brickwork or flagstone that’s flaking off or mortar that’s falling out of the joins? A lot of people know the damaging effect ice has on masonry. But what’s less known is that the rock salt used to melt ice wreaks havoc too. As a masonry company in Edgewood, we see this type of damage regularly. So, before you reach for it this winter, read how using rock salt to thaw out slippery paths and icy steps may be doing more harm than good.
The Freeze-Thaw Cycle
Bricks, pavers and stone have tiny cracks, called fissures, which fill with water when it rains or snows. As it gets colder, this moisture freezes and expands, damaging the surrounding structure. When the ice melts there’s a slightly bigger fissure left there than previously. The space fills with even more water the next time there’s rain or snow and the cycle continues.
This freeze-thaw pattern repeats and continues, getting wider and more damaged each time.
Why Salt Increases Damage
Using rock salt makes this damage even worse because salt attracts moisture. When you use it to de-ice, it seeps into mortar joints or stone with the melted ice. When the water evaporates, it remains there and so the next time it rains or snows, even more moisture is attracted into the gap.
The result? At first, you may notice worsening cracks in the mortar or a change in color. Eventually, the masonry starts flaking off, layer by layer, until it crumbles and needs professional repair.
Before you get to the flaking and cracking stage, be on the lookout for efflorescence. This is a salt buildup on the outer layer of the stone when it seeps from inside. It has a white, chalky appearance that stands out more when it’s dry and is a sure sign that there’s a build-up of salt.
Instead of using salt, consider using sand, gravel or even kitty litter to stop slips and trips. The downside to these is cleaning up after ice and snow thaw, but it’s better than permanent damage.
Masonry Company in Edgewood
Stone, brick and flagstone last a lifetime if properly looked after but even with the best upkeep can deteriorate. J&A Services, a masonry company in Edgewood, expertly repairs any salt damage to your brick or stonework, as well as larger projects such as laying concrete driveways and garden landscaping. Get in touch with us for a free estimate and keep on top of ice-damaged masonry.