During the past few years there has been considerable interest in the relaxation of GaAs(110) and Si(100)‐(2×1) surfaces. The surfaces of SiC, however, provide an intermediate system between these heteropolar and homopolar structures. It is interesting therefore to investigate the kinds of relaxation that might occur at the zincblende and wurtzite surfaces of SiC. We perform calculations using Chadi’s energy minimization scheme, with the coefficients of linear, quadratic, and cubic energy correction terms fitted to the bulk lattice constant, bulk modulus, and thermal expansion coefficient. To check the validity of this model, we calculate six experimentally known phonon frequencies. The agreement between theory and measured values is quite good. With this model, we investigate the relaxation at the SiC(110) surface in the zincblende structure and SiC(101̄0) and (112̄0) surfaces in the wurtzite structure. The results show a combination of downward movement and buckling for all three surfaces. The reduction in total energy is about 0.21 eV/atom for the (110) surface, and 0.24 eV/atom, 0.18 eV/atom for (101̄0) and (112̄0), respectively. Further results include the determination of ideal and relaxed electronic structure and optimum relaxed geometries. Finally, a new theory which extends Chadi’s scheme to do first principles phonon calculations is presented and discussed.