The fact that a concrete driveway provides not only durability but a uniform surface finish as well makes it more advantageous to use compared to other materials when it comes to driveway installations. Despite that being said, we could not deny the fact that concrete, same with any other type of material is prone to cracking which leaves you with two choices in fixing them, either repair or replacement.
Though repair could be a cost-effective choice in most cases, there are still a lot of cases where replacement is the more sensible option to choose. So that you can properly choose the right option at fixing your concrete driveways, you need to know the basics when it comes to concrete starting from how it is made, the way it is poured and set, and finally the reasons why breaks and cracks occurs in it.
Begin with the correct mixture of concrete.
Several key elements are needed in order to properly and effectively pour a concrete driveway. And first on the list is the appropriate mixture.
Concrete is a mixture of several different materials combined having cement as its main ingredient, and includes water and aggregates such as sand rocks and gravel.
The cement that binds the mixture together is combined with the aggregate along with water. The resulting material of the mixture is a semi-liquid material which can be used to reinforce steel rebar, or poured into any wooden forms.
The concrete is activated by the presence of water within the mixture, which will Resort in The Binding of the aggregate materials and hardens into form through the hydration process.
The creation of an ideal concrete mix can be affected by different factors including temperature and humidity. Cracks could form due to the quick drying of the mixture because of heat. On the other hand, if the mixture also dries too slow, water pockets could form inside the concrete which will inevitably create cracks as it freezes during the winter period.
The weather is also another factor to consider. It is not a good idea to pour concrete during a pouring rain nor it will be during the hottest days. The best ways of keeping your concrete intact and free of any cracks is the getting right mix and the right time to pour your concrete mixture.
Ways of preventing concrete cracks:
Although driveway cracks are inevitable and practically impossible to prevent, there are still several different ways of delaying their appearance on your driveway.
Aside from having a good pour, the curing time of the concrete is also an important factor. This could be properly done by using either a curing compound or a plastic sheeting on the pour itself so as to ensure that the moisture is retained on the mixture and to stay off the concrete for at least three to a maximum of seven days for it to completely harden.
It would also be a good idea to apply a sealer. A sealer is a type of acrylic and resin-based material which limits the environmental damages and at the same time permits the penetration of moisture and air into the mixture.
Cracks that could be seen on the concrete could be either structural or caused by shrinkage. Shrinkage cracks occurs closer to the surface and are very narrow in nature while structural cracks on the other hand are offset cracks having a wider and deeper nature.
In worst cases, cracks will move not only side to side but up and down as well, which will deliberately contribute on its widening over a period of time.
Concrete Repair vs Concrete Replacement
Replacement is not always an option when it comes to concrete cracks and most of the time a straightforward repair can be chosen for a hairline surface break on concretes. A putty knife, along with a bag of cement and water is usually all that it takes for the crack to be repaired right away.
You can begin by introducing moisture on the edge of the cracked concrete for about several hours. You must wet and moisten it but make sure that there will be no standing water.
The next step is the application of a thick cement and water paste on the crack itself with the use of a putty knife. The purpose of the moisture that you have previously applied is to prevent the water from being stolen out of your mixture by the cracked pieces.
The mixture should be pushed as much as you can into the crack using the knife, before smoothing it and covering it with a plastic board or sheet. Allow one week for drying with a periodical moistening.
Meanwhile, a replacement could be the only option when it comes to structural cracks. If ever the ground underneath was too soft or you had a too shallow original pour, which resulted in multiple offset cracks, a replacement could be the only option you can have. Repairs are not advisable in these cases as they may only hide more serious issues and makes it unnoticeable.
Two choices comes into play if ever deciding for a replacement: a new pour, or a spot removal replacement. An experienced contractor is required by both types of replacement process, and the choice on which type of replacement is best for you depends not only on your expectations but on the condition of your patio or driveway as well.
Eventually, the entire slab may need to be replaced as the way a patched portion will look is never be the same as the original does. Depending on the required depth and size of the replacement, a new pour and spot removal have an estimated cost of about $2,000 to $3,500 at the least.