Like everything in your home, your concrete driveway will also one day require maintenance. Although concrete is a strong and durable material for driveways. Being a mixture of cement, aggregate, sand, and water - it can be prone to cracking over time.
Excessive heat, standing water, freezing water, the contraction and expansion of the aggregate or sand, tree roots, overloading, shifting of the ground, and certain types of bacteria can cause the concrete to be damaged. Concrete is weak in terms of tensile strength. When any of the above-mentioned situations occur, you often see concrete cracks that needs repairing.
Once cracks appear in your concrete driveway, you should fix it quickly. The main reason why you should fix the cracks is to prevent moisture from getting in and causing further damage. But really, a big reason to fix your concrete driveway cracks is keep the attractive appearance of the driveway. If your home has a front-facing drive, then keeping your driveway looking fresh can help to improve the curb appeal of your home enormously.
Before you decide how to repair the cracks, it is a good idea to scope the area and get a feel of what caused them. Think about how you can remove the cause of the problem so you do not have to be repairing driveway concrete cracks again and again.
The success of your repair job will depend on how much you can prevent further damage. The best method of repairing the concrete cracks in your driveway will depend on the size of the cracks.
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Concrete Driveway Crack Repair Walkthrough
Method 1: Resurfacing The Concrete Driveway
In earlier times, your worn-out, cracked concrete slab was replaced completely. The old driveway was completely demolished and the old concrete was carted away. It seemed like the only solution when it comes to repairing concrete driveways was leveling and start all over again. This process is expensive and it can take days. Today, all of that has changed. There are polymer- and acrylic-based cement mixes that can be used to resurface the old concrete driveway. We now have an easy DIY fix that you can do by yourself.
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, you can now have a brand-new concrete driveway.
Method 2: Patching Concrete Driveway Cracks
If you want to fix cracks in concrete driveways, you do not have to resurface the whole driveway. There are concrete 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 to repair cracks in concrete.
Pre-Clean the Surface
- 1Clean the concrete crack thoroughly so that you have a clean surface and the repair material adheres to the old surface properly. You can use a pressure washer for large areas.
- 2Use a chisel, a screwdriver, or any other appropriate tool to remove the loose pieces of concrete. Take care that you do not enlarge the concrete cracks further.
- 3With a wire brush, remove the rest of the debris.
- 4Remove the loose debris from inside the crack as much as possible. It is best to use an air compressor; however, if you do not have one, you can make use of canned air or a shop vac, which is usually used to clean computer keyboards.
Now that you have prepared the concrete crack for repair, follow the steps outlined below as per the size of the concrete crack to repair it.
How to Fill Small Hairline Cracks
You can use a concrete driveway sealer, textured caulk, or pourable grout when it comes to repairing driveway cracks. These are the best products for repairing small hairline cracks in broken concrete driveways. If you are using pourable grout, start by wetting the crack lightly.
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 concrete crack. If you are making use of textured caulk, ensure that there is some overfill to compensate for the caulk when it dries.
You can also make use of your thumb to ensure that the crack is completely filled. However, if you are doing this concrete crack filler method, ensure that you are wearing thick rubber gloves. Do refer to the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the application for best results.
How to Fill Larger Cracks
- 1In the event that the concrete 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.
- 2If you are making use of pourable grout for concrete crack repair, then it is recommended that you apply just ¼ inch of grout for every application. You can make several ¼-inch grout applications and allow time for each layer to dry. However, you must wet the driveway cracks slightly before you fill it with the grout. Ensure that the layers are not thicker than ¼ inch. Alternatively, you could fill the concrete cracks with sand and just leave ¼ inch at the surface that you can fill with the grout. It is a good idea to overfill the crack so that it compensates for the shrinkage that will occur as the grout dries.
- 3If you plan to use vinyl material for repairing cracks on your concrete driveway, 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 driveway cracks using a hose or a spray bottle. Using a pointed trowel, spread vinyl patching material into the crack. Ensure that you do not fill the crack with more than ¼-inch-thick layers. Application of the vinyl material in layers lets you distribute it more uniformly on the cracked driveway. As a result, the driveway, 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 application (once in a couple of hours) until you have filled the crack completely.
- 4If you are using textured caulk to fill the driveway cracks, ensure that you apply it to a dry surface. If the crack is more than 3/8-inch deep, fill the cracks 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 shrinkage when the caulk dries.
Finishing The Process
As you complete the applications, blend the patch material with the surrounding concrete using a pointed trowel to ensure that the crack is completely sealed. Once you finish filling the crack, rub across the patch to match the patch surface consistency with the original concrete surface using a small broom, brush, or block of wood.
Letting it Cure
Once the concrete 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. Polymer coatings also dry more slowly, meaning you will need more time for repairing cracks.
If you 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.
Sealing The Surface
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. Sealing your concrete driveway can save you from all the time and trouble of dealing with broken concrete.
Now that you have learned how to fix cracks in your concrete driveway, you can see why it the task is easy enough for you to do it yourself. 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 for you. 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.