How to Prep Walkways and Other Outdoor Surfaces for Cool Weather

A large puddle of water on a sidewalk with a reflection of trees in it.

Cool or downright cold weather in fall and winter can cause damage to your home that totally changes the look of your property. But cracks in walkways aren't just ugly; they can be dangerous. If left untreated, those cracks will only get bigger and bigger over time. Learn how to prep your driveways and sidewalks for cool weather, repair them once they've been damaged, and avoid other problems that winter brings to the exterior of your home.

Protect Surfaces Against Cool Weather Damage

Protect your walkways from unsightly cracks and cool weather damage with a concrete sealer. This sealer is designed to prevent the absorption of water that ultimately leads to cracks in your concrete, but it must be reapplied regularly to have an effect. Prep your walkways by applying a new layer of sealer at the start of every winter. Sealer can be painted on the same way you would apply a coat of protective polyurethane on a woodworking project.

Repairing Your Walkways

When your walkway is cracked, it always draws attention. You notice it, your visitors notice it—it's like something from which you can't look away. But you don't have to live with cracks. They're easy to repair with the following instructions.

First, chill a chisel by leaving it outdoors in cool weather or in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Use the chisel to chip away around the top of the crack, and widen it slightly at one end. Next, use a wire brush to clean away all debris and dirt from the crack. Clean the concrete inside and all around the crack.

Once the crack is prepped and cleaned for repair, it can be filled. Use a concrete patching mix, readily available at any home improvement store, to fill the crack. Start your pour at the top where you widened the crack, and work precisely to fill it with the mixture. Use a trowel to smooth the mix over the crack and create a level, even finish.

Crack sealant.

Allow the concrete mix to cure for about two hours, and then cover it with plastic. This will keep the concrete moist, allowing it to dry slowly. Sprinkle some water droplets over the top of the plastic daily for the next few days, until the concrete has hardened. Apply a new layer of concrete as needed because the mixture may settle.

When your patch is even and hardened, apply your concrete sealant and admire your handiwork.

Other Cool Weather Prep

Cold weather can wreak havoc on many outside areas of your home. Ice, wind, and cold weather have a way of making little problems worse, so make little repairs now to avoid big ones in the future. Take these simple steps to winterize your outdoor areas and protect your home from the ravages of winter.

Some people repairing a house gutter

Check your roof. The top of your house is going to get hit by fall or winter weather first, so make sure it's ready to handle the temperature change. Look for loose shingles or loose gutters and make repairs as needed. Loose shingles can be secured with new nails and loose gutters can be strapped back into place.

Turn off faucets. Your outside faucets, known to the professionals as hose bibbs, are susceptible to freezing during winter's cold. Avoid burst pipes by shutting off these faucets at the shut-off valves. You may find these shut-off valves under your kitchen sink or in your utility room.

A pair of gloved hands holding red mulch outside

Prepare your landscaping areas. Landscaping or garden areas are particularly vulnerable to winter weather. Add an extra layer of mulch to your garden beds and landscaped areas to insulate the ground and protect it from the cold. Tender, young plants should be covered at night with plastic or fabric to protect them from the cold.