For both of these questions, I’ve laid out some basic facts about driveways and what troubles they might face, and how to prevent them. I’m probably not alone in my way of thinking that if you invest in something, you want it to provide value as long as possible.
Driveways are under a lot of pressure, so it’s no surprise that cracks affect the surface over time. Cars weigh a lot, salt can eat into the concrete cracks with water during winter and the traffic will affect it slowly year after year.
That being said, cracks are more than just eyesores. Driveway cracks of all sizes affect the performance of your concrete driveway. Sealing and repairing driveway cracks is necessary if you want to keep your driveway in good condition for a long time.
Let’s take a look at why concrete driveways develop cracks. Then, let’s compare how concrete driveway sealing is important. This way we should get a better picture of why seal concrete driveway.
Why is my driveway cracking?
Water can creep into tiny cracks and weak spots. When the water freezes and expands, it expands tiny crevices and weakens the structure of your driveway. Slowly it will get also to the rebar in concrete, letting it corrode and crack and soften the concrete around it.
Rebar in concrete is one of the reasons why concrete of today doesn’t last as long as it did thousands of years ago. Imagine Roman structures.
There is a reason for the rebar to be there, of course, it will help to strengthen the structure so the concrete won’t crack. We don’t live in ancient times anymore and the challenges our concrete structures face are different.
The problem is, the rebar can be victim to corrosion in conditions where it gets wet. Usually it’s safe deep in the concrete, but sometimes it could be near surface or it might be getting moisture in some other way.
Extreme temperatures and harsh weather conditions beat up your driveway. Heat, cold, snow, and ice wear down the concrete and cause it to expand and contract.
Not only the concrete, but the ground itself also heaves during winter and summer cycles and it can cause lifting of the driveway or sinking. These things need some heavy-handed repair usually. Lifted concrete might need to be ground while sunken needs some lifting.
If the surface has some mild damage on it, freezing and melting over and over again might slowly eat the surface material of the concrete away.
Eventually, nature will wear down anything man has build. To help nature, there are also salts used to keep roads melted and other chemicals that might be coming with the vehicles.
The driveway is clearly designed to hold cars, but the continual pressure of vehicle tires can wear it down. That’s 4 spots of pressure on the concrete. Now imagine if the heavier trucks were to park there, sometimes it might damage the concrete.
Weight is something we can often ignore after the concrete has been poured and cured. The average concrete project might be something like 2500 psi (pounds per square inch) so high weight stress is still a thing and will affect over time.
Roots from nearby plants and trees can damage it from underneath the surface. As your house settles, the shifting ground may cause your driveway to crack.
What happens when my driveway cracks?
A well-maintained home has a certain level of curb appeal. On the other hand, damages stand out as unappealing. This is just how it goes, people see damaged property and think about what else hasn’t been taken care of.
Cracks running across the driveway can decrease the value of your property. And even more so, they will start to wear down the concrete so that it will soon have to be replaced. Naturally, it is more expensive to replace a driveway than repair it.
Driveway cracks also increase the risk of further cracks, spalling, and flaking. Driveways with cracks age more quickly than maintained surfaces. The sooner the cracks are repaired, the less work it will be overall. Here is a guide on how to do it yourself.
Why is concrete driveway sealing and repair important?
- Concrete sealing stops driveway crack issues in their tracks. If you let the cracks sit, they will get worse with time.
- Now if you repair and seal them, it will stop water from getting into cracks, chemicals, and salt from getting into your concrete surface and it will be the first protection against UV and mechanical stress. It will have to be done every 3-5 years, but it isn’t too troublesome.
- When professionals or yourself repair your driveway with crack and joint sealing, you benefit in these ways:
- Making small repairs extends the life of your concrete driveway. It’s quite possible you’ll never have to see it replaced. Concrete life can be up to 20-30+ years maintained well.
- It will prevent spalling of your joints. Joints are there to prevent cracking, but also vulnerable to spalls. It can look ugly when it happens, but it is also something that is easy to repair.
- It will prevent more damage from happening. Preventing is always a good strategy as it’s less expensive and easier to do than repairing.
- It will improve appearance. This is important for the value of our property and also for our own image. It will be easier to sell our property or use its value for other purposes when it’s seen as valuable.
These all should be good reasons to answers to why seal concrete driveway. It’s all about protecting our property and best of all, if you don’t want to pay for professionals to do it, it’s not that hard to do it yourself.
You have to repair the damage in concrete before you seal it. It involves removing loose concrete from the cracks, pressure washing them, and repairing them with different products.
There are also many other guides on fixing concrete cracks on this website like this one on fixing spalling. There are many ways to fix concrete and some of them are more popular than the others around the world.
After you have repaired the concrete, you only need to apply the sealer with a pump sprayer or old-fashioned thin hair paint roller. Here are some guides on driveways that cover sealer as well, an example is here.
Once you have taken all of these steps, your concrete should be good for years if there are no problems in the structure or ground itself. If you have those, it’s time to get some professional consulting to get the problem solved.