One of the biggest dangers to your concrete is the weather. More than wear, abrasion, and chemical spills, weathering from the elements can degrade and erode your concrete structures quickly over a relatively short period of time. Concrete should, in theory, last for thousands of years. However, without proper protection, their longevity is greatly reduced, especially in areas plagued by harsh winters.
Winters are the worst season for your concrete. The freeze/thaw cycle, for instance, can ruin your concrete in one season. As water seeps into concrete in the warmer months before winter, the pores of the concrete retain that moisture, locking it into the material. Then, when the winter cold strikes, the water within the concrete will freeze into ice, expanding to enlarge the pores and take up more space within the concrete. At this stage it is already too late to protect the concrete, and when spring comes with its thaw will cause that ice within the concrete to melt. With that melting will come cracking, as the pores within the concrete have expanded too large to shrink back. In as little as one season, the concrete can be riddled with cracks and full of potential problems for the future.
The easiest way to protect the concrete from this problem is to use a concrete sealer. The right concrete sealers will stop water from entering the concrete slab, locking out that potentially disastrous moisture. However, one of the potential problems with concrete sealers and the winter comes with de-icing salts. De-icing salts meant to prevent water from freezing on the surface of concrete can often interfere with the protective qualities of concrete sealers. The problem is that de-icing salts actually create potentially hundreds of freeze/thaw cycles each day. With the continuous wear, the concrete surface sealer will quickly become compromised, allowing more and more water to enter the concrete slab past its defenses.
The best way to prevent this problem is not to stop using de-icing salts: that would be dangerous. Instead, you should treat your concrete with a concrete sealer. The concrete sealer will increase the protection, giving surface and penetrating protection. Use a concrete sealer like Siloxa-Tek 8500, Siloxa-Tek 8505 or Siloxa-Tek 8510 for comprehensive deicing salt protection.