Snow Removal Issues: Clay Brick Pavers and Concrete Pavers
Common issues include:
- Stains from ice melt products
- Plow scratches pavers
- Plow rips out pavers
Concrete pavers are very dense, hard, low absorption, difficult to scratch
- Some clay pavers are also dense, hard, low absorption, difficult to scratch. However, when regular "common red" type clay brick are used for pavers - these can be very porous, softer, high absorption, easy to scratch
- Pavers of either type are frequently installed on crushed rock beds with sand joints. However, may also be installed on concrete slab with mortar joints.
- Here is the most important thing to understand. Each project should be approached as unique. Whatever you are told about tools, chemicals, equipment, paver characteristics - don't accept the information without testing. There are too many variables from paver to paver, job condition to job condition.
Conditions that cause problems in snow removal are:
When snow melts during the day, it will absorb into the pavers (and sand or mortar joints) to whatever extent is the absorbency of these materials. That water then refreezes at night. When water freezes, it expands in volume. This expansion can cause patches of paver and mortar to crack off at the surface. This is called "spalling". If the surface is sealed with an Aldon sealer, water will not be absorbed and that stops the spalling problem.
When water penetrates into the surface, it can freeze below the surface. Then, the next day more water penetrates and in freezing will bond to the previous ice. The ice buildup above the surface can be bonded to the ice below the surface which is bonded to the paver body. A plow hitting this situation can break off pieces of paver or pop them out of the ground. Again, sealing with an Aldon sealer will mitigate or eliminate this condition. Also, a sealed surface should just be easier to plow clean than an unsealed surface.
The existence of "lippage" is when one paver is slightly higher on one side than an adjacent paver. A snow plow can catch this raised edge (lip) and pop the paver out of the ground. In this case, a snow blower can be better than a plow for driveways, walkways, etc. However, a snow blower would be highly impractical for large parking areas and plowing is the only choice. Other than adjusting plow guides to raise it sufficiently, the only compensating factor is that pavers popped out of a sand joint emplacement are easily replaced.
Staining and corrosion damage from "deicers" or ice melt chemicals:
If the pavers (and mortar) are protected with an Aldon sealer, ice melt chemicals should not be able to stain the pavers or the sealer. Test the chosen ice melt chemicals against a small sealed section first. If the sealer were to show staining or damage (and it should not), it is easily repaired.
Scratching from plowing:
Penetration into the paver and a little gloss buildup by an Aldon sealer can make a soft paver harder and more scratch resistant. A scratch in the sealer is far easier to repair than a paver.
Considering all the above factors, the best sealers to test are:
for the denser, lower absorption paver types.
for the more porous, more absorbent common brick type pavers.
for low to medium absorption driveway pavers.