I had a driveway poured exactly 1 year ago. It looked fantastic up until this winter where sections of the top layer started to come off (spalling). I sent pics to the contractor and he says it's due to parking my vehicles there and the salt run-off from the cars in the winter.
I could understand if it was some slight spalling in one area, but there's a lot. Also, what good is a driveway if I can't park my car there because the salt run off from my vehicle will damage it?! It just seems far fetched to me. Also, if the salt from the car can do this much damage then why isn't the concrete in my garage damaged from parking my car there?
Easy to Google this subject. Usually it's a result of improper finishing including adding water at the finishing stage (which is what your images appear to indicate). It's extremely commonplace in residential construction for cement finishers to request water be added upon arrival to make the placement easier; this tends to weaken the concrete strength but not cause the spalling. Spalling happens when the fines have been worked to the surface and water applied for troweling dissolves the air entrainment (which all exterior concrete is required to have to resist spalling).
In a perfect world exterior concrete would only be placed when the weather is ideal (overcast, cool, a little humid, no rain, etc.) Unfortunately in the real world finishers don't have this luxury and weather can be a gamble which threatens the end result. If the finisher suggests it may be faulty cement I would say that's unlikely just so long as they didn't forget to add the air entrainment which can be checked on the delivery slip. I have tested air and slump and never found the air to be outside of the acceptable range however slump is occasionally off. A good cement finisher will never add water except in an extreme situation.
Without any specific warranty from the contractor unlikely your contractor's going to help with a solution. An overlay is one option, also possibly sandblasting - turning it to an exposed aggregate finish.
When finishing it's recommended to add a sealer however not sure if this would have helped in your case.
The cracks from the joints is due to movement plus there is no expansion joints there!! Salt can do damage but if the concrete isn't finished properly it would result in flaking! Another possibility is the concrete mix itself could of been bad.
This seems a little premature considering it's only been a year. Not going to get any better.
Also seems like the contractor is deflecting rather than taking responsibility.
Get several other pros to have a look. You'll then know where you stand & can try holding the contractor accountable one more time.
Best of luck....
Sorry just a little further comment: didn't previously respond to your cement finishers suggestion regarding salts dripping from vehicles. It's common knowledge that salts can deteriorate concrete given time. I've seen high rise parkades (built in the '60s or '70s) where the deterioration to the concrete and re-bar is so severe that the concrete is completely eaten through. However based on the information and photos you provided its safe to say road salts have little or nothing to do with your situation. I built a garage at a home of mine 15 years ago and to date there has been no deterioration of the concrete inside or outside the garage because the concrete was placed and finished properly.
I also found an interesting comment in the Appendix of the Building Code; "A-18.104.22.168.(2) Air-entrained concrete should not be steel- or hand-troweled but rather a light broom or a float finish should be applied." The images of your concrete flakes don't seem to show a proper broom finish and perhaps your finisher worked it with a steel trowel after it was floated?
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