When it comes to strength, durability, and longevity, concrete simply can't be beat as a driveway paving material. Yet that doesn't mean that concrete won't suffer damage and wear as time goes on. In fact, those who fail to protect their concrete driveway adequately may find problems develop at an alarming rate.
Those who want to get the most from their concrete driveway must be prepared to implement regular maintenance and repair. If you would like to learn more about what it takes to protect your driveway from premature degradation, read on. This article will offer three key tips for maintaining and protecting a concrete driveway.
1. Keep It Clean
A driveway sees a lot of heavy use. Not only do they serve as resting places for your family's vehicles, but they also often function as outdoor workshops for mechanical and home improvement projects. In such capacities, a driveway often comes into contact with substances such as gasoline, motor oil, and coolant.
If allowed to soak into your concrete and remain there, some of these substances may hasten the rate of problems like spalling. Others don't pose a structural threat, yet will certainly leave behind unsightly stains. These will negatively impact the value of your home when the time comes to sell.
Be proactive about dealing with spills and stains as soon as possible. A pressure washer will make this task a lot easier. Yet depending on the nature of the stain, you will need to utilize certain cleaning substances as well. For instance, oil and grease can be removed most effectively by treating the stain with an alkaline degreaser.
2. Repair Cracks Immediately
Cracks represent one of the most serious threats to a concrete surface, because they will allow water to penetrate deep into the concrete. Water will wreak havoc in the concrete, causing the concrete to continue breaking down at a faster and faster rate. The longer you wait to deal with concrete cracks, the worse they will become.
For cracks still in their early stages, the most common repair technique is muting and sealing. This involves filling the crack with a special type of filler, often an epoxy resin.
First, the crack must be widened slightly in order to create a large enough trough to accommodate the filler. In order to provide lasting results, a crack must widened to at least ¼" in width. Workers accomplish the widening process using special chisels. Ideally, the sides of the crack will slope downward to the bottom, forming a V shape. Once all debris has been removed from the crack, the filler can be applied.
More serious cracks may require the technique known as stitching. In addition to filling the crack with resin or grout, stitching involves placing metal brackets to stabilize the concrete. These brackets, which resemble large staples, span the crack, preventing further movement.
3. Apply Sealer
The single most effective way to protect your concrete from physical damage, as well as exposure to potentially harmful substances, involves having a sealer applied once every 1 to 3 years. A sealer forms an impenetrable barrier, preventing substances such as water, oil, and dirt from penetrating down into the concrete's pores.
A sealer may fall into one of two main categories: film-forming or penetrating. As its name implies, a film-forming sealer sits directly on top of the concrete. This allows it to protect not only against liquid penetrating, but also against impact blows. Penetrating sealers, by contrast, soak down into the concrete, filling up and waterproofing its pores.
A penetrating sealer won't offer the same kind of protection against impacts from above. That said, it will retain its protective abilities even if the sealer near the top of the concrete begins to wear away. Choosing the right sealer depends on your particular needs.
For more information, please don't hesitate to contact the concrete pros at B M H Concrete Inc.