Concrete Driveway Repair Tips
Ideally, a concrete driveway will last you around 30 years, but certain factors can shorten its lifespan, resulting in unsightly cracking, discoloration, settlement, and scaling.
When this happens, there are several options for repairing your concrete, but sometimes, a full-on replacement might be necessary.
Here’s a look at the different types of damage that can occur with a concrete driveway, along with tips for repairs and signs that a concrete driveway may need replacing.
Benefits of A Concrete Driveway Vs. Asphalt
Concrete driveways tend to have a longer lifespan than asphalt driveways. When properly installed and well maintained, concrete driveways can last 20 to 30 years, whereas asphalt tends to last 15 to 20 years.
Asphalt driveways crack more easily than concrete. The reason for this is that concrete driveways have controlled joints spread throughout whereas asphalt driveways are one long continuous surface.
Issues That Can Arise Over Time and Causes
Despite the benefits of a concrete driveway, there are some issues that can arise over time that will require repairs.
Here are the most common problems found with concrete driveways along with the causes of damage:
- Wear and tear
- Cracks from the heavy weight of vehicles
- Cracks from tree roots
- Stains—e.g., oil stains, salt stains
- Winter damage caused by de-icing chemicals, freeze-thaw cracking, and shovels
- Pitting caused by salt
- Sun damage
- Divots or sunken areas caused by improper sub-grade compaction during the concrete installation
- Spalling—exposed aggregate
- Chipped surface—aka delamination
- Damage caused by poor concrete mix and installation
Signs to Look For
Here are the common signs that you need residential concrete driveway repair:
Small Cracks That Don’t Connect
Repair small cracks that are less than ¼ inch wide before they spread and lead to further damage. Water can get into these cracks and freeze, causing the cracks to expand and become deeper.
Like cracks, potholes should be repaired before they lead to further damage. Repairing potholes will also help to improve the safety and curb appeal of your driveway.
If the edges of your driveway are crumbling, they may have been too thin when your driveway was initially installed. To help prevent further crumbling and damage, add additional edging.
If you notice your driveway is sinking in certain areas, especially right outside of your garage, you can repair the sunken areas to make your driveway level and safe.
Concrete colours fade over time. But this can be easily fixed with a new stain application and sealer.
How to Know If It Needs Repairing
If your driveway is less than 10 years old, consider making repairs first before replacing it. For surface damage that isn’t too severe and covers less than 50% of the driveway, repairs are usually the better option, especially for younger driveways.
And if the foundation of the driveway is intact, but the surface needs extensive repairs, or you don’t like the look of filled in cracks and patched concrete, consider resurfacing your driveway. Resurfacing involves replacing the top layer of the driveway instead of tearing the entire driveway up and replacing it.
Here’s how to repair a concrete driveway:
Concrete driveway surface repair is recommended for repairing cracking, scaling, and spalling. Resurfacing covers these flaws and upgrades the appearance of driveways with many options for colours and patterns.
Before resurfacing, remove any unsound concrete and repair noticeable cracks to create a solid base for the concrete overlay to bond to.
Concrete with minor cracking and discolouration can be repaired by engraving a pattern on the surface. This pattern can help hide the flaws.
Concrete engraving involves staining the concrete and using a routing machine to cut the pattern into the surface, creating the appearance of faux grout lines.
When areas of a concrete driveway are sinking, slab jacking can be used to raise the concrete slab back to its original position.
Slabjacking involves pumping a mixture of cement, sand, fly ash, and other additives underneath the slab to raise it and provide a stable sub-base.
Over time, concrete stains, pigments, colour hardeners, and other colouring can become discoloured. Weather, sun exposure, oil and grease stains, and improper colour application can all lead to a discoloured driveway.
But you can apply a new coat of acid or water-based stain to revive the colour of your driveway. Be sure to use a UV-resistant staining product and a quality sealer to keep your driveway colour looking great for longer.
When to Replace Your Concrete Driveway
Here are signs that your driveway needs replacement:
Your Concrete Driveway Is Old
If your driveway is more than 20 years old, consider replacing it.
Your Driveway Wasn’t Installed Properly
The sub-base wasn’t prepared, or the wrong type of concrete mix was used. And if there was poor placement of expansion joints that lead to cracking during expansion and contraction, repairing expansion joints in concrete driveways will require pouring a new slab.
When the sub-base is eroded, the concrete will have to be removed, and a new sub-base will have to be installed and compacted.
Large cracks that are more than 2 inches deep and extend all the way through the concrete to the sub-base will allow water in that will eventually erode the sub-base, freeze, and cause further damage.
Alligator or Spider Web Cracks
These are cracks that are interconnected and cover the majority of a driveway and have the appearance of reptile scales.
If your driveway has multiple potholes that are deep enough to damage the foundation of your driveway, consider replacing the concrete.
When a driveway is not draining properly and is directing water toward your home, you will need to replace your driveway to prevent water damage to your home’s foundation.
Driveways should only be directing water away from homes.
Multiple Repair Issues
If your driveway needs multiple areas repaired, compare the cost of repairing and patching your concrete driveway to the cost of replacement.
The amount of time and money it takes to make multiple repairs might be similar to replacing the entire driveway. And a new driveway will look better and add value to your home.
Whether to repair or replace your concrete driveway depends on the type and severity of the damage. Is there a lot of spalling or a little? Is there a structural break? And how much material is missing?
If there is too much damage or material missing—i.e. there are more than 2 inches of material to repair—then you are better off replacing your concrete driveway.
Repair damaged concrete driveways when possible to prevent further damage, and replace when your driveway is old, the damage is beyond simple repairs, and the cost of repairs is similar to the cost of replacing your driveway.