There is still time to prepare your cement sidewalks and driveway to face the freezing temperatures of winter. The problem with leaving cracks open in the cement is that water from rain and melting snow will get into the cracks as it drains off of the surface of the cement. When the freezing temperatures arrive, the water will turn to ice and expand. The pressure from the expanding ice will cause the cement to further crack apart and deteriorate. If you have cracks in your cement sidewalks or driveway, here is how you can fill the cracks so the ice won't cause more damage to them this winter.
You will be using an epoxy or polyurethane material to fill the cracks and seal them, but first, you have to clean the cracks to remove any debris that could interfere with the ability of the product to adhere to the existing cement. You can use a pressure washer or a strong leaf blower to clean out the cracks. You should use eye protection when using the pressure washer or leaf blower to protect your eyes from debris getting kicked up into the air.
You also need to check for loose pieces that are still partially attached to the sides of the cracks while you are cleaning them out. Take a sidewalk ice scraper and knock the chips off of the sides of the crack so you can remove them.
Crack Filler Backer-Rod
The width of the cracks will usually vary widely in a driveway or sidewalk. If you want to save a little money on the project by reducing the amount of material you'll use to fill all the cracks, you should put a backer rod into the wide cracks before you apply the crack-fill material.
Backer rod is made out of foam and comes in rolls of varying diameters. Cut a length of backer-rod to fit the length of the crack and push it down into the crack. You should use the blade of a putty knife to push the backer-rod down to the bottom of the crack.
Filling the Crack
You can use either an epoxy- or a polyurethane-based product to fill the crack. Epoxies are used for heavily damaged cement surfaces that are structurally damaged and starting to fall apart. Polyurethane is used to weather-proof small cracks that haven't caused any structural damage to the cement. Regardless of which material you use, you need to make sure the product you buy is intended for outdoor use on the driveway or sidewalk.
Both materials will come in a tube that you can put in a caulk gun. Cut the tip of the tube at a roughly 45-degree angle with a utility knife. Start applying the material at the top of the crack and work backward down the crack until it has been entirely filled with the material. You should wait for the material to dry before walking on the sidewalk or driveway. The material will be tacky until it dries, and you could pull it out of the cracks with the bottom of your shoes or tires.
For more information and advice, contact a paving company in your area.