Concrete driveways are popular among homeowners due to their strength and stability. However, improper maintenance can lead to cracks, discoloration, and other damage. Neglecting to maintain your concrete driveway can result in costly repairs in the future.
In order to keep your concrete driveway in good condition for years to come, it’s important to give it proper care. Here’s a look at five essential tips to help you maintain your concrete driveway.
- Patch Problem Areas in the Concrete,
- Seal the Driveway to Prevent Cracking,
- Thoughtful Winter Weather Care,
- Park Smart,
- Keep it Clean with Pressure Washing.
- Key Takeaways.
Patch Problem Areas In The Concrete
If the concrete is already cracked or there are places where pieces have broken off, it’s important to treat them before water and weather can make problems worse. Fill cracks and holes with a concrete patching compound to prevent further damage.
Patching material for concrete driveways can easily be found at your local hardware or home improvement stores, big box retailers, and online vendors. There’s no need to seek out concrete material suppliers for these.
Before purchasing, confirm the patching material you purchase is appropriate for your particular concrete surface and climate conditions. Installation instructions typically specify pre-treating the area before application. This may include brushing with stiff bristles to remove as much dirt and debris as possible, then following up with a power wash or acid wash to remove dirt and remaining grime. After these steps have been completed, you can begin applying the patching material according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Seal The Driveway To Prevent Cracking
Its strength is what makes concrete ideal for driveways, but one simple element can spell disaster for concrete: water. If water is able to enter into the concrete, it can freeze when the temperatures drop during the winter and expand making new cracks and causing existing ones to spread quickly.
Cracks in the expansion joints between the sections of concrete can be just as problematic if they’re not sealed.
To properly seal your concrete driveway, start by power washing to remove any dirt, tree sap and other grime from the surface. Then deep clean the concrete making sure to remove grease stains and motor oil. If stains like these aren’t removed at this point, they’ll prevent the sealant from bonding with the concrete. Allow the concrete to dry thoroughly before applying the sealant.
Once completely dry, apply the sealant of your choice. High-quality sealers are available at hardware stores and building supply outlets.
- Dry-look seal is more expensive, but it’s absorbed into the concrete ensuring long-lasting protection – up to 10 years.
- Wet-look seal is less expensive and has the advantage of preventing grease and oil stains, but must be reapplied every 3 to 5 years.
Thoughtful Winter Weather Care
Removing snow and de-icing you are driveway maintenance tasks that cannot go undone during the winter, especially in Ohio. Unfortunately, the typical tools and methods – snow plows, rock salt, etc. – can damage the concrete of your driveway.
When it comes to snow removal, use a snow blower. Be sure not to push down as the snow blower passes over the driveway to avoid scraping the surface of the concrete. Avoid using sharp tools when trying to break up compact snow or ice on the driveway.
If you don’t have a snow blower, plastic snow shovels are your best bet. Unlike a metal shovel, a plastic shovel is non-abrasive so it won’t scratch or damage your driveway’s surface. Plus, their lightweight design makes them easier to use and less likely to cause fatigue when you’re clearing large amounts of snow.
As far as deicing your driveway, it can be convenient to use salt or chemical de-icing products in the winter, but these can cause a lot of damage to a concrete driveway. Deicing agents force the ice to melt, but it refreezes quickly. This cycle allows moisture to get into concrete (especially if it’s unsealed) and then the freeze-thaw-freeze cycle causes cracks and fissures in the concrete. A new concrete driveway is also more likely to be damaged by salt or chemical products, so it’s especially important to avoid these during the first winter. Even rock salt (i.e. sodium chloride) which is gentler on concrete, can cause surface damage and corrosion.
Sand or cat litter is the best way to give you traction on the ice without harming your driveway.
Concrete is strong but it’s not unbreakable. The way you park your vehicle can have a major effect on the condition of your concrete driveway. Avoid putting excessive stress on the edges of the driveway where the concrete is often weakest. Otherwise, you risk fracturing or cracking the corners or sides of your driveway, leading to a costly repair job.
Whenever possible, park away from the edge and ensure that large construction equipment and heavy vehicles do the same. Also, if you don’t leave enough space between your car and other objects, such as walls or buildings, then it can lead to tire scuffing on your concrete which may look unsightly and reduce curb appeal.
Keep It Clean with Pressure Washing
Cleaning should be a regular part of driveway maintenance. If left uncleaned, dirt and other debris (including organic matter) may become embedded deep in the surface leading to discoloration or even cracking over time. Power washing your entire driveway with hot water and eco-friendly cleaning chemicals and detergents will not only help it to stay beautiful but can aid in preventing damage.
Aside from outdoor debris, oil, gas and grease can be absorbed into concrete and stain it permanently. To prevent this, treat the stains as soon as possible, even if the concrete has been sealed. If the liquid is still on the surface of the concrete, remove the stain by first sprinkling sawdust or cat litter on it. Let it sit for a day, if possible, to completely absorb the oil or grease. Then, sweep it up and clean any discolored spots on the concrete with grease-cutting, and biodegradable detergents.
Concrete driveway maintenance doesn’t have to be difficult. Patching problem areas as soon as you notice them, properly sealing the concrete, removing snow gently, avoiding de-icing agents, parking away from the edges of your driveway, and regularly cleaning your driveway will make sure your investment lasts for years.
Related article: Essential Guide To Maintaining Pavers.
Trotta’s Power Washing Can Help
Looking for some help with seasonal maintenance? Trotta’s Power Washing provides a full range of residential services, including concrete washing and sealing, pressure washing, and paver restoration. Located in Peninsula, OH, we’re your neighborhood partner for home improvement projects. Call Trotta’s today or request a free quote online.