What Common Concrete Damage Do Sidewalks Experience?

A list of common concrete damages sidewalk experience

Damaged sidewalks are not only an eye sore but also a major trip hazard. Avoiding sidewalk damages to comply with city regulations and ensuring public safety is essential. But how can we timely identify the damages and what are the common signs of deterioration?

Understanding the damage to your sidewalks can help you address the damage as early as possible and avoid violation notices from DOT. In this blog, we will help you understand some common concrete damages that your sidewalk might be experiencing.


Concrete cracking is the most common damage your sidewalks might experience. There are multiple reasons why they might appear.

  • Extreme Weather Conditions
  • Tree Root Growth
  • Freeze Thaw Cylce
  • Less Time Given to Concrete Healing
  • No Expansion Joints
  • Poor-Quality Material
  • Excessive Water in the Concrete Mix

Types of Cracks

Not all cracks are the same size. Let us see some common ones that you might observe on the concrete surface.

Hairline Cracks: Thin cracks are less than 1/4 inch and can be treated by resurfacing.

Alligator Cracks: These interlinked cracks look like alligator skin and indicate underlying instability.

Settlement Cracks: These cracks run parallel to the sidewalks and indicate uneven settling of the subgrade.


Potholes in the concrete are the ultimate tripping hazards and appear when the cracks get worse. Water seeped through them and eroded the soil. Some other reasons why potholes form include:

  • Moisture infiltration
  • Freeze-thaw Cycle
  • Poor Drainage
  • Weather Conditions

Eliminating the potholes on an immediate basis to avoid major accidents is essential. You can trust a professional sidewalk contractor for reliable city complaint services.

Sapling and Flaking

Sapling is deterioration and flaking of concrete surface. It can happen due to a number of factors, including:

  • Old Age
  • Harsh Weather Conditions
  • De-icing Salts
  • Underlying Cracks

Concrete sapling not only reduces the aesthetic appeal of the property but can also weaken the structural integrity of the sidewalk.

Lifting and Settlling

Sometimes entire sidewalk might be raised or skinned. The lifting of the surface usually occurs due to root pressure. Similar to this, erosion of the surface or inadequate soil compaction can lead to siniking.

Uneven sidewalks are a big trip hazard and might make it difficult for people with disabilities to navigate.

Weathering and Erosion

Over time, exposure to elements like sun, rain, wind, and de-icing salts can erode the concrete surface and make it rough and uneven. While it might not be an immediate safety concern, it can reduce sidewalk aesthetics.

Repair and Maintenance Tips for Damaged Concrete

Now that we've identified the issues with the concrete, let us explore our repair options:

Hairline cracks:

These can be addressed with a concrete crack sealant to prevent water infiltration and further damage.

Minor Cracks and Spalling:

For slightly larger cracks and spalled areas, patching with pre-mixed concrete or concrete mix might be sufficient.

Major Cracks, Potholes, and Lifting/Settling:

For these issues, professional NYC sidewalk repair services are recommended. Depending on the severity, techniques like mudjacking, slab replacement, or even complete sidewalk replacement might be necessary.

Prevention Tips to Extend the Lifespan of Your Sidewalk

  • Ensure proper drainage and minimize water pooling and infiltration
  • Install expansion joints to allow the concrete to expand and contract with temperature changes, reducing cracking.
  • Seal cracks promptly to prevent water damage and further deterioration.
  • Plant trees at a safe distance from sidewalks to  avoid root-related problems.


Sidewalks are an essential part of our city’s infrastructure. By understanding the common damages they face and taking proactive measures for repair and maintenance, we can ensure these concrete pathways continue to serve us safely and efficiently for years to come.

Useful Resources: 

How Much Does It Cost to Repair Sidewalks in NYC?
Who Is Responsible for Sidewalk Repair in NYC?