When it comes to concrete driveway repair, you should normally leave it to the experts. But if you are handy and fancy the challenge, it’s possible for a homeowner to do quite a bit of driveway repair.
If the cracks are small in width, use an asphalt crack filler. If they are wider, use the asphalt patcher, which also is necessary when filling holes. Read the directions carefully, as the manufacturers sometimes give different instructions.
Pay attention to whether the holes should be partly filled with rocks or completely filled with patch. Fill the hole until you get about an inch from the surface, then tamp it with a tamper or a piece of wood. When it appears to be down as far as it will go, apply more patching material until it is a fraction of an inch above the surface, then tamp again. From there on, common sense will tell whether more patching and tamping are necessary.
As for a sealer, it does what its name implies — seals the surface, just as paint or varnish seals the surface of wood.
For normal cracks, most professionals would recommend NP1, a polyurethane caulking. It’s more expensive than some caulking materials, but he says it lasts longer.
Another product recommend is backing rod, a plastic foam used to fill large cracks before caulking. It is important that the crack be swept free of loose debris before applying the caulk to achieve a good bond. Caulk takes 24 hours to set. In addition to filling cracks, it is suggested that a homeowner seal the expansion joints between the concrete sections and permanent structures to prevent water from seeping in there. A homeowner may want to consider taking on small patching jobs, depending on his or her tolerance for mismatched concrete.
While it isn’t always possible to get a perfect match, the pros are more likely to come close to matching new concrete to old. Resurfacing or recoloring or staining existing concrete is another option for improving appearance without the major expense of laying a new driveway. Recoloring or staining concrete is a user-friendly approach.
Many people don’t realize how difficult it is to make concrete look good. You have 30 minutes to an hour, and it will be hard and stay just the way it is. While it was reasonable for a homeowner to mix concrete for small jobs, it’s difficult for a homeowner to mix concrete in the large quantities that may be needed for a major project, especially in the short time allowed before the concrete hardens. Improperly mixed concrete will not have the strength and durability it needs and eventually will break.
Professionals suggest that several neighbors work together on small repair jobs and arrange for a truck to deliver premixed material they need at a predetermined time. For bigger projects, the best way and the cheapest way is for everybody to get together and try to get a truck out.
There are sources in most towns that provide pre-mixed concrete in carts that homeowners can haul home and unload themselves. The carts are returned later. Sources can be found in the Yellow Pages under Concrete, Ready Mixed.
If you are going to tackle concrete driveway repair yourself, it is suggested that you pick a time of year when temperatures are moderate to work with concrete. You don’t need a very warm day as much as you must be careful not to work on a cold day.
A cold day can be considered anything under 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Outdoor temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees are ideal. But no matter what I or anybody else tells you, follow the directions on the container of the patching material you purchase.
If a driveway is so badly cracked that professional replacement seems the only answer, the homeowner could save a significant amount of money by removing the old concrete himself and hauling it away. A do-it-yourselfer can save money even when adding the cost of renting a jackhammer and a dumpster.
Finishing concrete driveway repair is the skill most hard to come by.