Spring Maintenance – Driveway Edition
With warmer weather being right around the corner, parking lots and driveways will soon be visible once more. This also means it’s time for some much-needed maintenance! The freeze-thaw cycle of the long winter months takes a toll on concrete and asphalt products like driveways and parking lots. If you had existing issues before the snow fell, there’s a good chance winter made them worse.
Thankfully, the spring thaw is a fantastic opportunity to take a closer look at your driveway and parking lot! Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.
Driveway Repair Tips
Ideally, a concrete driveway will last you around 30 years, but certain factors can shorten its life span, 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.
Before you start freaking out about the damage and start looking for the concrete supplier’s number, take a good look at your driveway. It all starts with an inspection!
Walk around your driveway or parking lot, take notes and make sketches of the damage locations. You can repair minor damage on your own if you want to take the time. But for major issues, you should consider booking a pavement maintenance crew as soon as possible.
Also, remember that asphalt is more prone to cracks and doesn’t last as long as concrete does. Asphalt driveways are one long continuous surface, which means the damage is easier to happen, making their lifespan shorter. Asphalt driveways tend to last for 15 to 20 years.
Signs To Look For
When doing an inspection, take a good look and look for:
Cracks are a widespread problem in pavement and tend to get bigger over time. To prevent the damage from worsening, consider filling cracks with sealing material. If you don’t, water can get into these cracks and freeze, causing the cracks to expand and become deeper.
Fill smaller cracks with a hot-pour rubberized sealer. For cracks larger than 1 ½-inches wide, fill with a fine-grade hot mix asphalt instead.
For excessive or alligator cracking (a series of cracks that look like scales or alligator skin), removing and replacing the damaged pavement is a must. This type of damage is too severe for crack sealing to be effective. Remove pavement with isolated areas of cracking to a depth of 4 to 6 inches.
Then install full-depth asphalt to strengthen the area.
Heaved Asphalt Or Frost Heave
During the freeze-thaw cycle caused by fluctuating winter temperatures, ice lenses form in the soil underneath asphalt. Ice lenses are bodies of ice that form when moisture spreads within soil or rock and builds up in an area.
As ice lenses grow underneath, they eventually push up the surface of the asphalt, resulting in heaved asphalt. As the ground thaws in spring, heaved asphalt should settle back into place. But if it doesn’t return to its level surface, you will need to cut out the heaved area and patch it with an asphalt patch.
Winter tends to intensify this type of asphalt damage. Raveling asphalt occurs when the surface material breaks down over time, exposing and dislodging larger stones in the asphalt. As the pavement wears down, it develops a rough appearance.
If caught early enough, you can control the damage by applying a sand slurry seal to the surface. Or, you can use a small aggregate stone micro-surface.
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 you notice your driveway is sinking in certain areas, especially right outside of your garage, know that you can repair the sunken areas to make your driveway level and safe.
How To Know If A Driveway Needs Repairing Or Replacing?
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.
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.
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 driveway. If not, here are your options:
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.
How To Know If I Need To Replace My 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 led 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.
By taking care of your pavement damage in the spring, you can keep your driveway or parking lot looking great all summer long. This will boost your property’s curb appeal and prevent safety hazards. Cracks, potholes, and uneven pavement can cause trips, falls, and injuries.
Along with protecting those walking on your pavement, you can protect your pavement from the damaging effects of winter. Taking care of problems now will make your pavement more durable and likely to withstand our long, harsh winter season. So, whether you need help with repair or replacement, A.L. Blair Construction can give you a hand. Give us a call and let’s do some makeovers!
Published: October 2019
Updated: March 2022