How to Slip-Proof your Driveway this Winter

Two young girls walking with Dad down a scenic driveway in winter.

As beautiful as a fresh dusting of snow can be, cold and icy conditions can be a safety concern for the walkway in front of your home or business.

Your sidewalk and driveway can become slick during the colder months, especially if there’s a sudden freeze or if snow melts and then refreezes. And slick conditions can lead to serious injuries — unintentional falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injury for Americans (except those between the ages 10-24 — unintentional falls are the second leading cause of nonfatal injury amongst this age group).

From choosing the right deicer to using the right snow blower, here’s how you can keep your driveway safe and slip-proof throughout the winter.

Save Time with a Snow Blower

Shoveling your sidewalk and driveway before fresh snow has a chance to stick and freeze is one of the most effective ways to prevent an icy walkway. But shoveling can take a lot of time — not to mention the strain on your back.

A snow blower can help you clear fresh snow off your driveway and sidewalk in half the time of shoveling (or less!). Snow blowers also enable people with certain physical limitations or back injuries to effectively clear the snow and ice off their driveway.

Snow blowers come in three different types: a single-stage blower, two-stage blower and three-stage blower.

A single-stage blower is the cheapest model, and works in up to a foot of snow. Two- and three-stage blowers work in up to two feet of snow, which are ideal for heavy Colorado winters.

Prices for residential blowers start at about $200 and cap off around $1000.

Choose the Right Deicer

Deicers are chemical agents that help melt and loosen the snow on your driveway. There are three types of deicer: rock salt, chloride-based deicers, and salt-free deicers.

Rock salt

Rock salt is the cheapest form of deicer. Rock salt lowers the freezing point of water to help prevent snow from freezing on your sidewalk or driveway.

However, rock salt is ineffective in temperatures below 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, water may thaw in warmer temperatures but refreeze once the rock salt stops working.

When the water thaws, it can trickle down into small cracks in the concrete. When temperatures drop and the water freezes, it expands — which can cause these small cracks to widen into larger problems. Rock salt can also kill surrounding vegetation near your driveway or sidewalk.

Chloride-based deicer

Chloride-based salts like potassium chloride, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride are less corrosive to metal, concrete, and vegetation than rock salt. These salts can remain effective up to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Salt-free deicer

A salt-free deicer, like calcium magnesium acetate, is the most expensive type of deicer you can buy, but for a good reason — this deicer is both the most effective in extreme temperatures (up to -25 degrees Fahrenheit), and is free of harmful chloride ions.

This deicer also has the added advantage of calcium and magnesium, which are elements that help plants thrive. Calcium magnesium acetate is non-corrosive to your vehicles, driveway, and walkways, and run-off won’t destroy your lawn or harm pets.

Alternatives to Deicers

There are a few alternatives to deicers which can help make your driveway slip-proof while also preventing potential damage to your driveway, car, or lawn.

Sand, kitty litter, and gravel can help create traction on your icy sidewalk or driveway, without the harmful effects of rock salt. While pelletized fertilizer can be another efficient alternative to melt snow and ice, it can do more harm to concrete and metal than rock salt.

Pelletized fertilizers that contain ammonium sulphate react with concrete to create sulphuric acid, which can dissolve your concrete. However, pelletized fertilizers which are high in urea generally won’t harm concrete or vegetation, and can be a safe alternative to slip-proof your driveway.

Hire a Professional

Hiring a professional to help you manage ice and snowfall outside of your home or business can save you time and energy. Not only will a professional snow removal service remove snow from your sidewalk and driveway, but they can help you manage ice, windblown snow, and apply deicers to ensure you don’t need ice skates to get across your driveway. Contact us to remove snow and ice outside your home today.