Protecting exterior surfaces from salt damage is essential, especially in areas where salt is commonly used to de-ice roads or where exposure to seawater is common. Salt can destroy a variety of materials, including concrete, metal, and wood, leading to corrosion, deterioration, and unsightly damage. Apply Concrete Sealer for protecting your surfaces. Fortunately, there are several effective strategies you can use to protect your exterior surfaces from the damaging effects of salt. By implementing proactive steps such as regular cleaning, applying sealants or coatings, ensuring proper drainage, and selecting salt-resistant materials, you can extend the life of your outdoor surfaces and maintain their appearance and structural integrity for years to come.

salt protected exterior surface
How Can I Protect My Exterior Surfaces From Salt in QUÉBEC

Understanding Salt Damage

How Salt Causes Damage to Various Surfaces

Concrete: Salt can penetrate the porous structure of concrete, leading to a process called freeze-thaw cycling. When dissolved salt water enters the concrete and freezes, it expands, causing cracking and deterioration over time. Additionally, salt can react with minerals in concrete, leading to chemical corrosion and weakening of the material.

Metal: Salt accelerates the corrosion of metal surfaces through a process known as electrolysis. When salt water comes in contact with metal, it creates an electrolyte solution that accelerates the transfer of electrons between the metal and oxygen, causing rust. This corrosion weakens the metal, compromising its structural integrity and aesthetics.

Wood: Exposure to salt can cause various types of damage to wood surfaces. Salt can draw moisture from the wood, causing swelling, warping, and cracking. Additionally, salt can react with the natural acids present in the wood, causing chemical changes that weaken the fibers and contribute to decay over time.

Types of Surfaces Vulnerable to Salt Damage

Concrete Surfaces: Driveways, sidewalks, and patios made of concrete are highly susceptible to salt damage due to their porous nature and exposure to weather conditions. Salt can penetrate the concrete surface, causing cracking, spalling, and surface deterioration.

Metal Surfaces: Metal structures including bridges, railings, and outdoor furniture are at risk of corrosion from salt exposure. Saltwater and salt-laden moisture can accelerate rust formation, compromising the strength and appearance of metal surfaces.

Wood Surfaces: Wood decks, fences, and outdoor furniture are vulnerable to salt damage, especially in coastal areas or where road salt is used. Salt can cause wood to swell, warp, and decay, leading to structural instability and aesthetic deterioration over time.

Understanding how salt interacts with different surfaces and identifying common sources of salt exposure is essential to implementing effective protection strategies to minimize damage and preserve the integrity of exterior surfaces.

Some ways to protect exterior surfaces from salt

Burlap Sacks

Burlap sacks provide a temporary protective barrier for exterior surfaces vulnerable to salt exposure. These sacks can be filled with sand or other absorbent material and placed strategically to create a barrier between the surface and the salt. The burlap’s coarse texture helps trap salt particles, preventing them from coming into direct contact with the surface. Burlap sacks are especially useful for protecting sensitive plants, such as shrubs and young trees, from salt spray and runoff during the winter months. However, the bags must be regularly monitored and replaced as needed to maintain their effectiveness.

Ceramic Coating

Ceramic coating provides a durable and long-lasting solution to protect exterior surfaces from salt damage. These coatings are made of ceramic nanoparticles that form a protective layer on the surface, sealing it against moisture and salt penetration. Ceramic coatings offer excellent resistance to salt corrosion, UV rays, and harsh weather, making them ideal for use on automotive surfaces, marine vessels, and outdoor furniture. Additionally, ceramic coating improves surface appearance by providing a glossy finish and easy cleaning and maintenance. Professional application is recommended for best results and longevity.


Wax is a traditional but effective method of protecting exterior surfaces from salt damage. Automotive wax, in particular, creates a hydrophobic barrier that repels water and salt, preventing them from sticking to surfaces. Applying a wax coating to surfaces such as vehicles, metal fixtures, and outdoor furniture helps maintain their appearance and integrity by reducing the risk of corrosion and erosion. Regular waxing is necessary to ensure continued protection, especially in environments with high salt exposure. Although wax provides a relatively affordable and accessible solution, it may require more frequent reapplication than other protective coatings.

Concrete Sealer

Concrete sealers are specially designed to protect concrete surfaces from moisture, salt, and other environmental contaminants. These sealers penetrate the porous surface of concrete, forming a protective barrier that repels water and prevents salt penetration. Concrete sealers are available in a variety of formulations, including acrylic, epoxy, and penetrating sealers, each offering different levels of protection and durability. Applying a concrete sealer to driveways, sidewalks, patios, and other exterior concrete surfaces, helps prevent salt-induced damage such as spalling, cracking, and scaling. Proper surface preparation and application techniques are essential to ensure sealer performance and longevity.

Salt Neutralizer

Salt neutralizers are chemical solutions that neutralize salt deposits and residues on exterior surfaces. These products break up the salt molecules and deactivate them, preventing further damage to the surface. Salt neutralizers are commonly used to remove salt buildup on vehicles, metal surfaces, and concrete driveways and restore the appearance and integrity of the surface. They are usually applied using a sprayer or mop and may need to be rinsed with water afterward. Salt neutralizers are an effective solution to combat existing salt damage and prevent future corrosion when used as part of a regular maintenance routine.

Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium chloride is an alternative de-icing agent to traditional sodium chloride (rock salt) and calcium chloride. Although magnesium chloride is less corrosive than other salt-based deicers, it can still damage exterior surfaces over time, especially concrete and metal. However, when used in moderation and with protective measures such as sealants and coatings, magnesium chloride can help reduce the risk of salt damage. Additionally, magnesium chloride is less harmful to plants and the environment than other salt-based deicers, making it a preferred choice for environmentally conscious individuals and organizations. Proper application techniques and monitoring are essential to minimize the potential for salt-induced damage.

How do I protect my floor from salt?

To protect your floors from salt damage, especially during the winter months when there is salt circulation due to de-icing efforts, several preventative measures can be taken. First, implementing a proactive cleaning routine is crucial. Sweep or vacuum the floor regularly to remove salt particles tracked indoors, as leaving, those on the floor can cause scratches and damage over time. Mop using a mild detergent solution to thoroughly clean the surface and remove salt residue. Applying a sealant or wax specially formulated for your flooring provides extra protection against salt penetration and moisture. This barrier helps protect the floor from corrosive effects and prevents long-term damage. Additionally, placing entry mats or rugs near doors can help trap salt and moisture before they reach the floor, reducing the risk of damage. Treating any salt spots or stains immediately with a salt-neutralizing cleaner can also prevent permanent damage to the floor surface. By consistently applying these protective measures, you can effectively preserve the integrity and appearance of your floor, ensuring its longevity despite exposure to salt.

How does salt damage buildings?

Salt can cause significant damage to buildings through several processes, primarily erosion and corrosion. When salt, usually in the form of sodium chloride, comes into contact with building materials such as concrete, metal, and masonry, it can initiate a series of destructive processes. In concrete structures, salt can penetrate porous surfaces, causing increased moisture absorption and diffusion within the material. This can lead to concrete cracking, spalling, and corrosion over time. Similarly, salt accelerates corrosion in metal components of buildings, such as steel reinforcement bars, structural supports, and exterior cladding. The presence of salts promotes the formation of electrolytes, which facilitate oxidation and rusting, weakening the metal and compromising structural integrity. Furthermore, salt-induced corrosion can occur in masonry materials such as brick and stone, which gradually wears away the surface and causes discoloration and loss of structural strength. Overall, salt damage to buildings poses significant challenges and requires proactive measures such as regular cleaning, application of protective coatings, and proper maintenance to mitigate its adverse effects and ensure the structure’s longevity.

At Last

Protecting exterior surfaces from salt damage is critical to maintaining the integrity, aesthetics, and longevity of buildings and outdoor structures. The detrimental effects of salt, including corrosion, erosion, and deterioration, can compromise structural stability and lead to costly repairs and replacements. By taking proactive salt protection measures such as regular cleaning, applying sealants or coatings, and selecting salt-resistant materials, property owners can reduce the risk of damage and preserve the value of their investment. Furthermore, investing in salt protection systems offers long-term benefits, including reduced maintenance costs, increased surface life, and improved durability against harsh environmental conditions. Ultimately, prioritizing salt protection not only protects exterior surfaces but also ensures the durability and resilience of buildings and infrastructure over time.

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