Repairing Cracks in Your Concrete Driveway

A well maintained concrete driveway helps improve your home’s curb appeal. This is especially true for homes that have a front facing driveway. Unfortunately concrete driveways are prone to cracks and it is a reality you have to live with. The cracks are caused by exposure to the elements and they are most common in the regions having regular freeze and thaw cycles causing severe cracks. The good news is that you can repair the concrete driveway cracks.

The earlier you attend to the cracks the better you will be able to control further damage due to entry of moisture or erosion of the underlying soil. Therefore the purpose of repairing the cracks in your concrete driveway is to prevent moisture from entering and causing further damage and also to increase your home’s curb appeal. However, before actually taking up the repair work you must first try to ascertain the cause of the cracks. There may be a single cause or multiple causes. The common causes include impact damage, tree roots, weight overloading, freezing and thawing and standing water.

If possible you must try to remove the cause to reduce the possibility or the extent of future damage. Many methods and products are available for repairing concrete driveway cracks. Before taking up the repair work be sure to read the instructions and follow the safety guidelines. The common materials required for concrete driveway repairs include appropriate protective goggles, clothing and gloves, a hammer, a wire brush, a broom, a large flat screw driver, chisel, pointing trowel, an air compressor or shop vac and a water source which can be either a water filled spray bottle or a garden hose.

Whatever the size of the cracks, or the methods or products you use for their repair, you must first prepare the area of the cracks for proper bonding of the concrete with the repair materials. Otherwise you will find that the repair material simply comes off after sometime exposing the cracks again. Surface preparation is the most important part of any repair work and you must do it thoroughly. In most cases it takes more time than the actual repair work.

Start by removing any loose pieces off the concrete with the chisel or screwdriver cautiously so that you don’t enlarge the crack. Once the crack edges are clean remove any remaining loose debris with a wire brush. Finally blow air from the shop vac or air compressor to blow away any remaining dirt. Now you should have cracks that are clean and ready for repair. The type of repair and the materials used depend on the size of the cracks – small or hairline cracks and wide cracks.

To repair small and hairline cracks concrete sealer, textured caulk, vinyl reinforced patching compound or pourable grout are used. Caulk and vinyl reinforced patching compound are applied dry whereas pourable grout and concrete sealer are applied to wet surfaces. So wet the surface slightly wherever necessary. Now apply the repair material as per manufacturer’s instructions and push it in with the pointing trowel so that the crack is completely filled up. Some products shrink after drying and you may have to apply an overfill layer.

For larger cracks, that is, cracks wider than �½ inch you will have to undercut the crack to make crack wider at the bottom than on the surface. This will prevent the patching material from popping out of the crack due to the expansion and contraction of the concrete. When applying pourable concrete grout wet the surface and apply �¼ inch at a time. Allow sufficient time for the layer to dry before pouring another.

Finally apply an overfill to compensate for any shrinkage. If you are using vinyl concrete patch material follow instructions and mix only small quantities at a time as the material sets very fast. Apply in Ã?¼ inch layers as above. For repairing with textured caulk if the crack is deeper than 3/8 inch fill the extra depth with sand and apply the caulk as per manufacturer’s instructions.

In all the above repairs, after finishing blend the filling material with the concrete surface. After the patch has dried out rub the surface with a brush so that the concrete and repair surfaces are leveled and match. After a few days of use the repaired portions will fully blend with the original concrete surface.

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