Concrete is a stable and permanent material, but it remains porous and absorbs water. When this water freezes, it pushes the cement binder apart, causing expansion and contraction which leads to crumbling. Contractors can also add too much water to the mix, weakening the chemical bonds that create a strong and durable concrete surface. In some cases, there is not enough cement in the mix or the cement is not strong enough to withstand heavy loads.
Additionally, salt can be slightly acidic and attack the bonds that hold the concrete together, enlarging the pores of the concrete and allowing more water to seep in. All of these factors can lead to chipping, flaking, and crumbling of concrete surfaces. To prevent this from happening, seal concrete steps or walkways with a sealant once a year to prevent water from entering. Additionally, measure the exact amount of water needed before adding it to dry materials to prevent the mixture from getting too wet.
If you think you have chipped or crumbled concrete, it's time to call a foundation specialist. As long as the steps are structurally solid, don't chip, flake, or break completely, it can be repaired with a penetrating sealant for concrete. This is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent crumbling and flaking. If you're looking for a quick and easy way to improve your exterior appeal, repaving the concrete steps and driveway is a great way to start. As unfortunate and slow as it may be, concrete needs to be properly maintained and cared for over time.