For a lot of homeowners, concrete is the material of choice for building their driveway. Concrete is durable, and as North County Property Group says, its long-lasting aesthetics can help to improve a home’s value. But the main reason most people prefer concrete driveways is that it is almost carefree.
There is a vast difference between being almost carefree and being carefree. No driveway, including a concrete driveway, is maintenance-free. Driveways are constantly exposed to the elements, almost always in use, and subject to several cases of abuse.
Without proper attention and care, the driveway surface can become stained or start to crack. These problems result from simple things we do in the day-to-day use of the driveway. But they can be prevented by following a few simple steps.
To preserve the look of your concrete driveway and prolong its life, these are the things you should be doing regularly:
1. Do not park along the edges
Concrete is robust but not indestructible. The surface can not bear the weight of heavy trucks. If you load the driveway with heavy vehicles, the strain can cause it to weaken and crack. But even an average-sized car can damage your driveway if you consistently park the automobile along the edges of the driveway. Concrete driveways are most vulnerable along their edges and prone to crack in their outermost areas. If cracks appear along the verges of a driveway, it’s only a matter of time before water finds its way into the rest of the surface.
2. Seal the driveway
Water expands when it freezes and contracts when it thaws. If water seeps into the concrete, the repeated expansion and contraction of the trapped moisture during winter will weaken the material. That makes the concrete brittle and liable to crack. Sealing the driveway will prevent water infiltration by creating a waterproof barrier. It would be best if you do this before the driveway’s first winter. Dry-look seals last much longer than wet-look seals, but wet-look seals will also prevent staining by grease and oil spills.
3. Remove stains immediately
Sealing a driveway can help prevent staining. But to be sure the surface will not be stained, remove all grease, oil, and gasoline spills immediately. That will reduce the risk of the liquid getting absorbed into the surface. If the ground does become discolored, you can pressure wash it to remove the stains. If this doesn’t work, apply a cleaning chemical that is strong enough to remove the stain yet mild enough not to harm the driveway.
4. Treat the surface with care
Sharp objects which may mark the surface are inappropriate for the driveway. Even minor chipping on a driveway surface can progress into prominent cracks with time. Do not drop sharp objects on the surface if you want to protect them. Be careful with equipment or tools which have sharp blades, such as an ice chipper. When using a snowblower, raise the blades to keep them from scraping the surface. If you need to remove snow with a shovel, use a plastic snow shovel.
5. Be wary of de-icing chemicals
Using some types of de-icing chemicals on your driveway will lead to scaling and spalling. Spalling is when concrete fragments due to constant thawing and refreezing of water. Some de-icing chemicals will harm the driveway by directly attacking the concrete. Salt may also damage your driveway when the concrete absorbs salt solution. Newly-laid concrete driveways are highly susceptible to this.
To prevent these problems, use de-icing chemicals that are safe, a snowblower or plastic snow shovel. Or sprinkle sand and cat litter on ice to create traction.
6. Keep your driveway clean
The driveway will acquire permanent stains if you allow oil, gasoline, and grease to penetrate up to ¼ of an inch into its surface. To keep this from happening, do not let spills sit on the driveway surface; remove them immediately. You should do this for a sealed driveway as well. In addition to removing stains, scrub the driveway at least once a year, using water and soap. Doing so will remove the build-up of grime and corrosives. Also, wash the driveway to remove any fertilizer that gets on it when fertilizing the lawn.
7. Fix cracks immediately
Ignoring minor cracks on the surface of your concrete driveway is an invitation to trouble. Plants may sprout in holes, and their roots will widen the opening by working their way into the concrete. Water can also settle in cracks to form a corrosive solution that will eat away at the concrete. Breaks down may also originate from underneath the concrete if there are trees near the driveway. To make sure none of these happen, patch all cracks or holes on the concrete immediately and remove trees or trim their roots.
8. Improve drainage around the driveway
Keeping water from collecting on the driveway surface will prolong its life. To prevent water pooling on the driveway, clear a runoff area along the edges of the driveway. Also, make sure the downspout is not discharging onto the driveway; if it is, redirect it into the yard.