February 2, 2018

Can I Use Salt on my Retaining Wall & Stairs?

Written by: Danelle DeMartini
We often don’t think to ask this question until it becomes a concern, except for those of you who live in more temperate climates and never need to worry about icy walkways and steps.  But for those of us, who have to think about how to prevent slips and falls during the winter months, knowing what to use on your concrete retaining wall or steps is important.  Not just for the sake of potentially breaking bones in a fall but for the life and longevity of your concrete surfaces.

So CAN I use salt? In a word… Not really (ok. that’s two words). 

Salt is very corrosive to concrete and if used regularly it can and will erode away the concrete.  If this erosion is on a stair riser or a wall cap, it can oftentimes be replaced.  However if the salt is used on a sidewalk in front of your retaining wall for example, over time the salt can erode away the blocks at the bottom of the wall, potentially compromising the integrity of the wall not to mention the aesthetics and let’s not even think about the work involved in replacing it.

That being said, it doesn’t mean you can never use salt on your concrete. When used sparingly or infrequently salt will take less of a toll on the wall or stairways. 

If I can’t use salt, what should I use?   Sand and sometimes even cat litter (the non-clumping kind) can add tracking to slippery surfaces without the risk of damage to the concrete. So if you have been using salt, either stop all together or alternate with another material to save your walls and steps as well as your hiney.

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