How to Protect Your Driveway From Cracking, Pitting, and Crumbling
The exterior of your home says a lot about you. Just like the clothes you wear, the way you maintain your home is an outward expression of you.
Next time you go on a walk around your neighborhood, start looking at your neighbor's homes. A neighbor with a well-manicured lawn, a welcoming front entrance, and a nice driveway is telling you they're a clean person that cares about the way things look.
On the flip side, we all know the houses that aren't kept well with weeds everywhere, overgrown grass, and cracked concrete. What message do you think they're sending?
Here's the thing. Your driveway is one of the first things people see when they visit your home. It makes a huge impact on curb appeal.
So when you have a cracked driveway that is pitting and crumbling, it can be an eyesore that creates a bad impression of your home before a guest even sets foot inside. It also lowers your overall home value.
Not only that but driveway cracks and pitting present tripping hazards that can be dangerous to your loved ones.
So, you might be asking, "How do I prevent my driveway from cracking and crumbling?" or "Should I use a driveway sealer?" And the answer is: it's easier and less expensive than you think to protect your driveway and other concrete, like sidewalks, patios, and pool decks.
But first, let's talk about why concrete gets damaged.
Why a cracked driveway leads to crumbling concrete over time
Water is enemy number one for concrete. Too much water can wash away the soil supporting your concrete. Too little and it can cause the soil to shrink. And when water freezes and thaws over and over and over and over again, it can cause the surface of your concrete driveway to crack, pit, and crumble.
Think of your driveway as a giant sponge. Concrete is extremely porous. It soaks up water at the surface from rain or melting snow. When temperatures drop below freezing, the water turns into ice, which expands and breaks the walls of those tiny pores, weakening the concrete.
You probably won't notice this damage at first. It gradually gets worse with every freeze/thaw cycle until the pitting and flaking becomes obvious to the naked eye.
Above: Over time, water and erosion can cause concrete slabs to sink and crack
Unfortunately, sprinkling salt on your driveway and sidewalks doesn't help either. Not only does it assist the freeze/ thaw cycle, but the salt itself accelerates the breakdown of concrete by causing corrosion under the surface, leading to cracked and crumbling concrete.
If your concrete isn't level, it can also be contributing to premature wear and tear. For instance, if the slabs on your driveway meet at a spot where soil loss has created a low spot, water might pool. And this pooling gives water more time to soak into the concrete and start eroding (If you notice this, call us to schedule a free inspection - we can level and extend the life of your concrete!).
Staining reduces the attractiveness of your concrete
Above: Oil stained driveway concrete
In addition, concrete's porous nature makes it susceptible to staining from chemicals, dirt, and other materials. As with cracking and pitting, staining is an eyesore that can reduce your home's curb appeal.
So, how can you prevent all this from happening?
Applying concrete driveway sealant to prevent damage
The best way to prevent your driveway from cracking is to apply sealant. Even though it may seem like a no-brainer, a lot of homeowners don't do it and then have to deal with concrete issues down the road.
So, how do you seal a driveway? You can buy a five-gallon bucket of driveway sealant at your local big-box DIY store, but be careful. Not all sealants are created equal. The options available at retail stores are often messy and have to be reapplied every few years, which can get expensive.
Plus, the driveway sealer you find off the shelf may not be compatible with your concrete.
Above: SealantPro being applied to a driveway
At Thrasher, we use SealantPro(TM) from Supportworks. SealantPro concrete sealant is a proprietary formulation unavailable anywhere else in the area that permanently protects concrete with just one professional application, extending the life of your concrete by 3-to-5 times. Plus, our crews receive training from industry experts to ensure a perfect application every time.
How concrete driveway sealant works
SealantPro is a state-of-the-art material that bonds with concrete on a molecular level, permanently protecting it from water, dirt, and other contaminants in a single coat. Once applied, SealantPro dries in minutes and is fully cured in just 6 hours, so you can use your concrete the same day. It's simple, fast, economical, and extremely effective.
Whether you've just built a brand-new home, or updated your existing home with a new driveway, it's a smart move to protect your investment with a concrete sealant.
What if the damage is already done?
If you're reading this with an already cracked driveway, don't worry. A sinking, cracked driveway can easily be lifted, leveled, sealed, and stabilized.
However, if the surface of your driveway has already begun to pit and crumble, concrete sealant will only protect against additional damage. For a driveway that's already plagued with unsightly surface damage, homeowners often turn to full replacement. However, there is another option: resurfacing.
Above: Common examples of pitted, flaking concrete.
Driveway resurfacing vs. replacement
Tearing out and replacing concrete is a huge undertaking.
The old concrete must be jackhammered into manageable pieces and hauled away. Then, new concrete must be poured and left to harden and cure -- a process that can take several weeks, during which you'll have to park on the street and avoid your garage. It's noisy, messy, and incredibly disruptive.
But thanks to new technology, there is an alternative to total concrete replacement called concrete resurfacing. It's a quick, easy process that requires minimal disruption, yet it offers the same look and functionality of total concrete replacement.
At Thrasher, we use ResurfacePro(TM) to renew tired, broken old concrete. The ResurfacePro system works by coating your old driveway surface with a super-durable layer of polymer cement, giving it a brand-new look and restoring its function -- and unlike brand new concrete, it can be ready for use the very next day.
After driveway resurfacing, we recommend a coat of SealantPro concrete sealant to protect your driveway from future cracking, pitting, crumbling and staining. We can even develop a customized comprehensive solution that can lift, level and seal your existing driveway so it will not only have a new surface but also be just as level as the day it was poured.
Need an Expert Opinion on Your Driveway?
If you're ready to renew your tired, broken old driveway, give us a call at 800.827.0702 or use this form to schedule a free consultation and same-day quote. Our concrete experts will come to your home and walk you through a thorough inspection. You'll then receive a detailed estimate at the appointment for a solution that's customized for your home.