How to Fix Peeling Concrete and Avoid Future Damage

Learn how to fix peeling concrete caused by cold weather & installation errors & how to prevent future damage.

How to Fix Peeling Concrete and Avoid Future Damage

Descaled concrete may resemble round or oval depressions along surfaces.


tends to be more common in cold climates when defrosting chemicals are applied or when seasonal freeze-thaw cycles damage concrete.

Peeling concrete

is a common problem in which part of the surface peels off, breaks or splinters. Also known as flaking, it is the result of a weak surface that is susceptible to damage.

If you catch a chipping problem early on, it's easy to remedy it. After all, peeling begins as a purely cosmetic imperfection caused by cold weather. When the temperature drops below the freezing point, the moisture in the concrete tends to expand, creating internal pressure. Over the course of a winter, or over the years, as internal pressure increases and decreases, the surface layer of concrete is stressed, which leads to flaking. If the surface of the driveway has peeling concrete, the most likely cause is an installation error.

Common mistakes include adding too much water to the mix to facilitate pouring; spraying the concrete surface with water to prolong the finishing time; and not curing the concrete properly after installation. Descaling is the peeling or detachment of small particles of cement paste from the part close to the surface of the finished slab. In most cases, the defect does not affect the life of the slab if left untreated. Concrete repairs must be carried out in accordance with BS EN 1504, the European and British standard for the repair and protection of reinforced concrete. The use of an appropriately qualified contractor is essential, as is diligent preparation of the substrate and the selection of a repair material compatible with the host concrete.

Repairs will normally be carried out with pre-bagged materials, ensuring consistency and compatibility of components. Materials are available for manual, fluid or spray application, determined by the size and geometry of the application. Concrete peeling is a common concern in older concrete structures. Alkalinity, a normal corrosion mechanism, causes the steel bar inserted into concrete to corrode over time. There are several ways to fix peeling concrete.

First, determine how serious the problem is. If chips penetrate less than a third of the depth of the concrete, a patch or repair can correct any issues. However, if there are deeper chips or pits, it may be better to completely remove the concrete and pour a new foundation. The facing material is then spread over the existing and chipped concrete surface to create a fresh and flawless finish. For example, greater coverage is required for conditions of greater exposure, such as when the concrete element is thrown into the ground and permanently exposed to it. What is not acceptable and can be avoided are cracking of the surface of the spider, called “shrinkage cracking”, and peeling due to design, placement and finishing.

Peeling concrete not only degrades the visual quality of a building but also has a long-term effect on its efficiency and integrity. Use this diagram to help you place the concrete screed strips and “picture frame strips” you'll need when re-paving your driveway. A few small flakes coming off a large concrete surface may not seem like a big problem but once flaking starts it's even easier for more moisture to get into the concrete and flaking will spread. The amount of cement, ambient temperature as it's poured, water content, how it's worked and how quickly it dries are just some of factors to consider when applying concrete. To combat these challenges and avoid callbacks and customer complaints individual contractors should regularly review their practices. Descaling is particularly common and widespread in areas with extreme freezing and thawing cycles when expansion of water in concrete will multiply pressure and force to expel chips. Concrete peeling affects a wide variety of structures including concrete framed buildings, multi-storey car parks, bridges, jetties, tanks and ponds.

Excess water may enter through cracks or could have been mixed incorrectly when placed. Smaller areas with just a few chips can be repaired without re-paving entire area although patches may be more noticeable while larger areas with extensive peeling can be rejuvenated with new foundation. . .