How to Fix Salt Damaged Cement Steps


If you live in a snowy area, streets and sidewalks get covered with rock salt and deicing salt to protect against ice. This same salt can wreak havoc on your concrete stairs, as Ask the Builder notes. Salt melts the ice to form a slushy material, which can then seep into your concrete. The water in this concrete can freeze as temperatures drop, causing your concrete steps to crack or splinter. You can take action to protect your stairs, but you should also switch to sand or a non-salt-based winter deicing compound.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Scrub brush
  • Breathable cement sealer
  • Paint stick
  • Paintbrush
  • Face mask
  • Wait for a sunny day, when the temperature rises above 40 degrees, to clean the salt buildup on your stairs. Fill a bucket with water. Plunge a stiff scrub brush into the water.

  • Scrub the stairs with the scrub brush to remove the coating of salt. Wet the scrub brush as often as necessary. Continue scrubbing until you do not see traces of salt, which will be white in color.

  • Allow the water to evaporate naturally, then let the cement dry fully for one to two days. When your stairs dry, they will be clean and free from salt.

  • Remove the lid from your breathable cement sealer, and stir the can of sealer with a paint stirrer. Avoid shaking the sealer, since this can cause air bubbles. Read the manufacturer's instructions regarding temperature before you apply the sealer: Some sealers need warmer weather than others.

  • Paint the cement sealer over your steps using a paintbrush. Work in an even layer. Wear a protective face mask to avoid inhaling fumes.

  • Allow the sealer to dry fully. Each sealer will have a recommended drying time, which you should use as a guideline, since moist weather may delay drying time. When the first coat is dry, apply a second coat in the same manner. Once this sealant dries, your cement steps will be waterproof.

Tips & Warnings

  • All sealants will be labeled breathable or nonbreathable. Choose a breathable sealant.
  • Apply the sealant on a warm day. You can wait until winter is over, then complete this entire project.

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  • Photo Credit cement steps with flower pots image by Stephen Orsillo from
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