After investing in a beautiful driveway, path or patio covered with granite, sandstone or limestone paving, the last thing you want to do is apply anything that will cause damage to the stones. In freezing weather, however, you want to ensure that the stone paving doesn’t lead to slips and falls. Rock salt may seem to offer a simple solution, but there are several reasons why you should think twice before covering the surface with loads of rock salt.
Rock Salt Pros and Cons
Stone may be one of nature’s hardest substances, but it is still permeable. When water mixes with salt, the solution can seep into the stone and crystallise, which can cause pitting on the surfaces, particularly on softer materials like limestone paving. Even when the surface is not broken, rock salt can cause discolouration in the stone. Rock salt damages surrounding plantings as well.
A small amount of salt, however, may not be a problem. If you can see salt crystals on your stone paving after ice is gone, you’re likely using too much. When safety depends upon de-icing the paving quickly, you may wish to consider using and sand-and-salt mix.
Chemical de-icing products are sometimes recommended as alternative to rock salts, but some experts feel that there hasn’t been enough testing on these substances to ensure that they won’t damage the stone or the environment. Although sealing products help protect the paving from stains, some people dislike the “wet” look that it gives the stones. Frequent applications of sealing products are needed to maintain the look as well.
Often, a small amount of grit sand cast over an icy or frosted surface is all that is need to provide safe traction. Whatever product you choose, it makes sense to test it on an out-of-the-way section before applying it to the entire surface.