While concrete is an extremely durable material, it is virtually impossible to pour a large concrete
slab or driveway and have no cracking or settling, over time. When the dirt beneath the driveway
begins to settle it often creates hariline cracks in the concrete surface. Nearby tree and bush roots
can often grow underneath the driveway which also may cause cracks in the concrete over time.
Heavy vehicles and large machinery can also contribute to cracks that form in a driveway or parking
Just like in a windshield, once a crack in the concrete occurs, no matter how tiny, it continues to
grow. In colder regions of the country where freeze/thaw cycles are common, water can seep into
even the smallest of cracks and freeze which causes the crack to expand over time. That is why it is
so important for home owners to repair concrete cracks as soon as possible to prevent the
freeze/thaw cycle from worsening the damage.
If the freeze/thaw cycle is not halted early on the cracks begin to grow larger and eventually small
amounts of dirt, sand and dust make their way into the cracks. Once the cracks reach that size it is
only a matter of time before plants and grasses begin to fill the cracks, further widening them and
damaging the concrete. If this process is allowed to carry on unchecked eventually larger plants and
grasses begin to grow inside the crack until the only option really is to remove and replace that
section of the concrete driveway or sidewalk.
Concrete Crack Filler
As we’ve described above, it is best to fill in small cracks in your concrete surface as part of a
routine maintenance plan in order to avoid more expensive concrete damage repairs. There are a
variety of concrete crack filler available and all have varying results. As with most things in life, the
less expensive filler products typically don’t’ work as well and produce inferior results. We
recommend using a higher quality filler in order to attain more long-lasting results.
Concrete filler caulk is typically on the low-priced end of the spectrum and usually comes in either a
squeeze bottle or caulking tube. You can simply squeeze the caulk into the cracks on your concrete
surface. While caulk is simple to use for the DIYer but typically the repair does not last very long and
in some cases the cracks reemerge worse than ever. Caulk concrete crack filler is fine for a quick
and inexpensive short-term fix but it is not recommended as a long-term fix.
A better option for longer-term repair fixes are specialty cement mix that comes in small pails.
Containters range in size from a quart to up to a 2 gallon size. These mixes already contain the
necessary cement and bonding agents. Water just needs to be added before use. Fair warning –
very small cracks are often difficult to fill with this filler. You will need to work the filler into the crack
using a trowel or other small tool in order to get the filler into the crack. If completed properly this
filler results in a long lasting repair.
A third long-lasting repair option is to use non-shrink grout with added concrete glue. Grout is a
concrete product, however it needs the addition of sand or gravel to be strong and bond well with the
surrounding cement in order to fill the crack properly. Concrete glue can be found in hardware stores
and comes in quart size jars. Simply mix the concrete glue into the grout mix for added strength. The
glue also allows the grout to bond properly.
One of the top reasons that homeowners choose a decorative concrete driveway is because they are relatively low maintenance and require very little routine care over the lifetime of the driveway. But even with those incredible ‘credentials’ all concrete surfaces and driveway paving material will require at least some minimal up-keep to preserve its beauty and integrity over the course of its lifetime. Plus, with just a little routine maintenance a homeowner can protect their investment.
Driveway Sealer Maintenance
So what type of ‘routine maintenance’ are we talking about here? The two best things you can do for your driveway are to clean your concrete driveway with a pressure washer and reapply sealer. These two simple maintenance tasks can really extend the life and beauty of your driveway like no other. The frequency of cleaning and sealing your driveway will depend on a few factors like weather conditions where you live (frequent rains, hot, dry, etc.) as well as the amount of traffic the driveway is exposed to on a regular basis but in general terms these should be performed about every two years. It is important to use a high-quality commercial driveway sealant on your driveway for ultimate protection against the elements. Always apply driveway sealer according to the manufacturer’s instructions or better yet hire a local concrete contractor business to perform the cleaning and sealing for you!
A high-quality commercial sealer’s main job is to prevent stains from seeping into the concrete surface, however it is still a good idea to immediately remove spills like gasoline, oil and grease as soon as they happen to avoid unsightly stains on your driveway. In the event the stain stays on the surface for a long period of time and some discoloration occurs homeowners can try pressure washing or applying certain cleaning agents specifically designed to remove most concrete stains.
All About Deicing Chemicals
It is so tempting to use deicers on your driveway after a big snow storm! I know – I get it! You’re late to work or just don’t feel like shoveling and you just need something to quickly remove the snow and ice! But my best advice is to NOT use deicers as they can can cause severe concrete driveway damage in the form of scaling and spalling which is caused by forcing thawing and refreezing of moisture. Deicing products that contain ammonium nitrates and ammonium sulphates are especially destructive and harmful to concrete. Better options for deicers include rock salt and calcium chloride, however they both can cause damage to plants, trees and grass as well as corrode metal. Homeowners should also avoid using any type of deicer during the first winter after a driveway installation since new concrete is more susceptible during that time. A safer alternative to deicers is using sand to gain traction over the snow or ice.
Proper Concrete Care
Concrete is by far one of the most durable and thus widely used materials for driveways however a typical residential driveway is not engineered to support heavy machinery or vehicles on a regular basis. If you will be parking heavier vehicles like a moving van or semi-truck on your property you should consider installing a commercial grade driveway to support the additional weight. Some other helpful care and maintenance tips for your driveway include using care when using a snow plow or shoveling snow in the winter in order to avoid metal scratches or damages to the surface of your concrete driveway.