How to Repair Cracks in Concrete Driveway

  • September 15, 2019
  • / By Dale Keese
Rental Property

Like everything in your home, you must also maintain your concrete driveway. Concrete is a very strong and durable material for driveways. It is essentially a mixture of cement, aggregate, sand, and water. 

Rental Property

While we know that concrete is really strong, excessive heat, standing water, freezing water, the contraction and expansion of the aggregate or sand, tree roots, overloading, shifting of the ground and some types of bacteria can cause the concrete to be damaged. Concrete is weak in terms of the tensile strength, so when the above occur, the concrete can easily crack.

Luckily, it is quite easy, as well as, inexpensive to repair cracks in concrete driveways and you can even do it as a DIY project.

Once cracks appear in your concrete driveway, you should fix it immediately. The main reason why you should fix the cracks is to prevent moisture from getting into the cracks. Another major advantage of fixing the cracks in your concrete is that it helps to improve the overall appearance of the driveway and if your home has a front-facing driveway, then it can help to improve the curb appeal of your home enormously.

So, before you decide on how to repair cracks in your concrete driveway, it is a good idea to scope the area and get a feel of what caused the cracks. Think about how you can remove the cause of the problem. The success of your repair job will depend on how you can prevent further damage. The method of how to repair cracks in your concrete driveway will depend on the size of the cracks.

Resurfacing Concrete

In earlier times, worn-out concrete driveways were replaced completely. The old driveway was completely demolished and the old concrete was carted away. However, today, all that has changed. There are polymer and acrylic based cement mixes that can be used to surface the old concrete driveway.

You can simply mix the repair product with polymers, cement, and water and apply it onto the concrete driveway with a broom or a squeegee. The product sets very quickly within just 30 minutes and you have a brand-new driveway ready in a jiffy.

Hairline Cracks

Patching the Cracks

Not all cracks need the entire concrete driveway to be resurfaced. There are cracks that come in varied shapes and sizes, right from hairline cracks to more significant ones. However, despite the size of the crack, here are some simple steps you should follow before you actually get on to repairing the crack.

Cleaning

  • Clean the crack thoroughly so that you have a clean surface and the repair material adheres to the old surface properly.
  • Use a chisel, a screwdriver or any other appropriate tool to remove the loose pieces of concrete. Take care that you do not enlarge the crack further.
  • With a wire brush, remove the rest of the debris.
  • Remove the loose debris from inside the crack as much as it’s possible. It is best to use an air compressor; however, if you don’t have one, you can make use of canned air or a shop vac, which is usually used to clean computer keyboards.
  • Ensure that you clean out all the debris, dirt and dust from inside the crack.

Now that you have prepared the crack for repair, follow the steps outlined below as per the size of the crack to repair it.

Filling

For Small Hairline Cracks

You can use a concrete driveway sealer, textured caulk or pourable grout that are best products for repairing small hairline cracks in concrete driveways. Start by wetting the crack lightly if you are using pourable grout or concrete sealer. Textured caulk works best when used on a dry crack. Fill the crack completely and using a pointed trowel, push the sealer or grout into the crack.

Ensure that there is some overfill to compensate for the caulk when it dries, in the case you are making use of textured caulk. You can also make use of your thumb to ensure that the crack is completely filled. However, if you’re doing this, then ensure that you are wearing thick rubber gloves. Do refer to the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the application for best results.

Lone Biker

For Larger Cracks

  • In the event that the cracks are wider than ½ an inch, then you could undercut the crack to ensure that it is wider below the surface than it is at the surface. This will ensure that the material that you are using for the patching will not be expelled due to the expansion and contraction of the concrete.
  • If you are making use of pourable grout, then it is recommended that you apply just ¼ inch of grout for every application. You can either make several ¼ inch grout applications and allowing time for each layer to dry. However, you must wet the crack slightly before you fill it with the grout and you must ensure that the layers are not thicker than ¼ inch. Or, you could fill the crack with sand and just leave ¼ inch at the surface that you can fill with the grout. It’s a good idea to overfill the crack so that it compensates for the shrinkage that will occur as the grout dries.
  • If you plan to use vinyl material to patch your concrete driveway, then ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s directions and mix only the amount you will be able to use in the specified time i.e. in less than 20 minutes. Wet the crack using a hose or a spray bottle. Using a pointed trowel, spread the vinyl patching material into the crack. Ensure that you do not fill the crack more than ¼ inch thick layers. Application of the vinyl material in layers lets you distribute it more uniformly and it will be less prone to cracking as the vinyl patching material shrinks as it dries. Once the first layer has dried sufficiently, proceed with the next applications (once in a couple of hours) until you have filled the crack completely.
  • If you are using textured caulk to fill the cracks, ensure that you apply it to a dry surface. If the crack is more than 3/8-inch deep, fill the crack with foam backer board or sand before you fill it with the caulk. Cut the applicator tip so that the size matches the crack, not more than ¼-inch. Fill the crack completely with the caulk and also apply some overfill to compensate for the shrinkage when the caulk dries.

Finishing

As you complete the applications, blend the patch material finally with the surrounding concrete using a pointed trowel to ensure that the crack is completely sealed. Once you finish filling the crack, using a small broom, brush or block of wood, rub across the patch to match the patch surface consistency with the original concrete surface.

Curing

Once the patching is complete, allow it to dry and cure completely before you park your car on the driveway. Usually, pourable concrete is much easier to work with compared to polymer coatings because you are working on a smaller area rather than resurfacing an entire driveway. They also dry more slowly giving you time to work slowly.

If you have used sand to repair the cracks in your concrete driveway, then ensure that you sweep away or wash off the excess sand after the curing process is complete.

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Sealing

Concrete is highly porous and one of the major factors that can damage your driveway is water. So, in order to minimize damage caused by water, it is a good idea to apply a high-quality concrete sealer to your driveway.

In conclusion, now that you have learned how to repair cracks in your concrete driveway, you are sure to agree that this is quite simple as a DIY project. And, whether your concrete driveway requires repairs of small cracks or a complete overhaul, there are many products available in the market that can make the job very easy. Despite all your efforts, if cracks continue to appear in the concrete, then you may need to call in professionals to sort the issue out for you and rule out any bigger problems.