How to Prevent Ice Buildup on Walkways and Driveways

Every winter, Maine homeowners and business owners should prepare for the accumulation of ice and snow on their driveways and walkways. Maintaining an ice-free driveway is important, but it can also be quite time-consuming. Utilizing incorrect de-icers could damage your concrete surfaces. So, if you’re wondering how to prevent ice buildup on walkways and driveways, we’ve got you covered!

In this article, we’ll discuss what causes ice buildups and what are preventive actions to keep parking and walking safe for everyone so there is less chance of slipping and falling.

What Causes Ice Buildup on Walkways and Driveways?

It’s important to address the causes of ice buildup before winter to mitigate ice formation on your residential and commercial property. Regular maintenance during winter months is essential to keep walkways and driveways safe for pedestrians and vehicles. Using materials like salt or sand on icy surfaces can help improve traction and melt ice. 

Several factors contribute to the formation of ice in these areas. Here are five common causes:

  • Low Temperatures — Subfreezing temperatures are a primary factor leading to ice buildup. When the ambient temperature drops below the freezing point (32°F or 0°C), any moisture on surfaces can freeze, forming a layer of ice. This can happen during cold weather conditions, especially in winter.
  • Snow Accumulation — Snow accumulation on walkways and driveways can lead to ice formation. When snow melts during the day due to sunlight or rising temperatures and then refreezes overnight, it creates a layer of ice. This process can repeat, leading to the gradual buildup of ice over time.
  • Poor Drainage — Inadequate drainage can contribute to ice formation. If water is not properly diverted away from walkways and driveways, it may pool in low-lying areas. When temperatures drop, this standing water can freeze, creating icy patches on surfaces.
  • Melting and Refreezing — Fluctuating temperatures, with cycles of melting and refreezing, can result in the formation of ice. For example, if snow or ice begins to melt during the day and temperatures drop again at night, the melted water can refreeze, forming a layer of ice.
  • Faulty Gutter Systems — If gutter systems are not functioning correctly, they can contribute to ice buildup on walkways and driveways. Clogged or damaged gutters may lead to water overflowing and dripping onto surfaces below. This water can freeze, creating icy patches that pose slip hazards.

How to Stop Ice Buildup on Walkways and Driveways

The severe weather throughout the winter can cause issues for your home or workplace. Snow and ice frequently accumulate on asphalt and concrete surfaces, posing a risk to coworkers, family members, kids, and pets. But there are lots of ways to keep snow and ice from ruining your house or place of business. 

Here are several strategies to help stop ice accumulation:

  • Snow Removal — Regularly shovel or use a snow blower to remove accumulated snow from walkways and driveways. This prevents the snow from melting during the day and refreezing at night, creating icy surfaces.
  • De-icing Agents — Apply de-icing agents such as rock salt, calcium chloride, or magnesium chloride to help melt existing ice and prevent new ice from forming. Follow the product instructions carefully, and avoid excessive use, as some agents may be harmful to vegetation and concrete surfaces.
  • Sand or Grit — Spread sand or gritty materials on icy surfaces to improve traction. While this doesn’t melt the ice, it provides a non-slip surface, reducing the risk of slips and falls.
  • Heated Mats — Consider using heated mats or cables designed for outdoor use. These can be placed on walkways and driveways to provide a constant source of heat, preventing the formation of ice. Some systems are designed to be embedded in concrete or asphalt.
  • Proper Drainage — Ensure that walkways and driveways have proper drainage to prevent water from pooling and freezing. Clear snow away from areas where water tends to collect, and keep gutters and downspouts clear to allow water to flow away from these surfaces.
  • Insulation —- Insulate surfaces to prevent heat loss. This can include using insulation blankets or materials to cover areas prone to ice buildup. Insulating against the ground can reduce the likelihood of freezing.
  • Roof Maintenance —- Ensure that your roof is in good condition, and clear any ice dams that may form along the roof edges. Ice dams can contribute to icicles and falling ice, which can accumulate on walkways and driveways.
  • Adjustable Slope —- If possible, adjust the slope of walkways and driveways to promote water runoff. This can help prevent the accumulation of standing water that may freeze.
  • Anti-icing Sprays —- Some products are designed for pre-treatment and can be applied before a snow or ice event. These anti-icing sprays create a barrier that makes it more difficult for ice to bond to surfaces.
  • Protective Covers —- Use protective covers, such as tarps or blankets, to shield walkways and driveways from snow accumulation. This can be particularly effective during heavy snowfall.


prevent ice buildup

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Is it safe to use rock salt on all types of driveways and walkways?

Rock salt (sodium chloride) can be effective on various surfaces, but it may cause damage to concrete and metal over time. Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride are often considered less harmful alternatives for certain surfaces. It’s important to check the manufacturer’s recommendations and consider the specific needs of your driveway or walkway material.

How often should I apply de-icing agents to prevent ice buildup?

The frequency of de-icing agent application depends on weather conditions. During a snow or ice event, it may be necessary to apply de-icing agents before, during, and after precipitation. Regular monitoring and reapplication may be required, especially in extremely cold conditions.

Are there eco-friendly alternatives for preventing ice buildup on driveways and walkways?

Yes, some environmentally friendly options include sand or grit for traction, as well as calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), which is less harmful to the environment. Additionally, proper insulation and drainage to prevent ice formation can be considered eco-friendly preventive measures.

Can I use hot water to melt ice on driveways and walkways?

While hot water can melt ice, it’s generally not recommended for large areas due to practical challenges and potential safety hazards. Pouring hot water on cold surfaces can lead to rapid refreezing, creating additional ice. It’s more effective to use de-icing agents, heated mats, or other preventive measures for comprehensive and safer ice removal.


Without a plan to clear ice off driveways and walkways, you, your cars, and pedestrians can be in hazardous situations. If you don’t know how to prevent ice buildup professionally on walkways and driveways, our experienced team can help you maintain your property’s best possible appearance and functionality this winter. Contact us today.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *