Few things can ruin your home’s external appearance, like an unsightly crack in the driveway. To make matters worse, concrete cracks can worsen over time and cause further damage. Plus, cracks create uneven surfaces that can cause family members or guests to trip.
Going over a damaged driveway with your car can lead to suspension problems, wheel alignment issues, and exhaust system damage, so we cannot stress the importance of dealing with these issues timeously enough.
Fortunately, you can take steps to minimize the damage and improve the visual appearance of your driveway.
In this comprehensive, step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the ins and outs of concrete driveway crack repair to ensure that you have the necessary knowledge to address issues promptly and prevent the damage from worsening.
What Causes Cracks in a Concrete Driveway?
There are several reasons why your concrete surface may be cracking. Improper installation can lead to cracking if the base is not set correctly. Freeze-thaw cycles also cause the concrete to expand and contract, leading to cracks. Other structural issues, such as tree roots, heavy loads, and shrinkage, can all lead to driveway cracks.
We generally recommend contacting a professional concrete contractor when you notice cracks, as there is likely an underlying issue that must be addressed to ensure the longevity of your driveway.
Is It Safe to Repair Cracks in a Concrete Slab on Your Own?
Before we delve into driveway crack repair steps, let’s discuss when it is okay to attempt a DIY crack repair. The truth is that it’s simple enough to repair minor cracks in your driveway, but if you notice that there are a few cracks and they are more serious, you may need to contact a professional.
Larger cracks may require more extensive methods to repair and can present several challenges, so it’s often best to contact your local service provider to salvage the cracked concrete driveway.
It’s also important to note that repairing a driveway surface can present several safety risks and requires several tools. If you are inexperienced and do not have the necessary equipment to get the job done, hiring a concrete repair contractor may be more cost-effective.
Before deciding whether to attempt DIY concrete crack repair or call in the experts, weigh the pros and cons.
Repairing Cracks in a Concrete Driveway: Step-by-step Guide
Without further ado, let’s get into our guide on how to fill cracks in your driveway.
The Tools and Materials You’ll Need to Repair Existing Concrete
Before you begin repairing your driveway, gather the following tools and materials:
- Pressure washer or garden hose
- Concrete sealer
- Wire brush or broom
- Trowel or putty knife
- Concrete patching compound
- Concrete cleaner
- Crack filler or sealer
- Caulking gun
- Paintbrush or roller
- Backer rod (for larger cracks)
- Portland cement
- Plastic sheeting (to cover the filler while it cures)
- Bonding adhesive (optional)
You will also need the following safety equipment:
- Dust mask
- Safety glasses
How to Repair Concrete Cracks
Before you begin driveway crack repairs, make sure you are wearing the appropriate safety equipment. Then, follow these steps:
Step One: Remove Debris and Clean the Area
Start by brushing off any debris with a broom or wire brush, and clean the area with a pressure washer or garden hose with a nozzle on the end. Next, leave the area to dry completely before fixing the cracks.
Step Two: Assess the Extent of the Damage
Determine the size and depth of the crack by inspecting it. Concrete sealant can fix hairline cracks (less than 1/8 inch wide), but larger cracks need more complex repairs. Use a chisel and hammer to widen any larger cracks slightly. If you have a minor crack, you can skip step eight.
Step Three: Preparation
A backer rod should be inserted into larger cracks as a precaution. The patching material is supported by a backer rod, essentially a foam tube that helps keep it from settling into the crack. Push the backer rod into the opening with a screwdriver or putty knife after trimming it to the proper size.
Step Four: Apply Bonding Adhesive
If you are repairing deep or wide concrete driveway cracks, we recommend applying a bonding adhesive to help the patching material stick to the surface better.
Remember that the application method will vary depending on the adhesive you use, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Step Five: Prepare the Concrete Patch Material
Create a batch of concrete patching compound by mixing it as directed on the packaging. Usually, this entails mixing Portland cement with sand according to the recommended ratios. You can also add bonding adhesive to the mixture to ensure additional strength and stickiness.
Step Six: Apply the mixture to the Crack
Next, use your trowel or putty knife to fill the mixture into the crack. Fill the crack, ensuring it is leveled with the surrounding area. Apply the patching material in layers, allowing each layer to dry before adding the next if the cracks are massive.
Once you have applied the crack filler, ensure it is level and free of air bubbles.
Step Seven: Allow It Time to Cure
Once you are happy with it, allow the crack filler time to dry. The time required will vary, depending on the type of filler you choose, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions to learn more about the required curing time.
You don’t want it to cure too quickly, as this could result in the material cracking (which is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve!), so cover it with plastic and spray the area with water if necessary.
Step Eight: Cure the Entire Driveway
To prevent more cracks from forming and increase the longevity of your concrete driveway, seal the entire surface when the patch has had time to cure. With a paintbrush or roller, apply a concrete sealant as the manufacturer directs. Remember that your sealant will require additional time to dry, so avoid using your driveway until it has dried completely.
Once it has set, you can enjoy a crack-free driveway once more!
Tips on How to Prevent Concrete Cracking
Fixing driveway cracks is no easy task. It can be time-consuming and frustrating. This is why prevention is always better than a cure. Here are a few tips to help you keep concrete driveways in tip-top shape:
- Make sure your concrete driveway is installed correctly. Choose reputable contractors with a reputation for reliable services.
- Check that your driveway has the correct thickness. If your driveway is subjected to high traffic or heavy loads, you may need to increase the concrete thickness to prevent damage.
- Maintain it well. You can prolong your lifespan by cleaning your driveway regularly and fixing any issues.
- Keep tree roots in check if you notice tree roots that could potentially cause damage to your driveway, remove them.
- Install control joints. This can help prevent cracking in an area particularly prone to cracks and damage.
- Consult a professional. When you notice damage, it is always advisable to consult a professional to ensure that the root cause of the issue is dealt with.
Need Help with Your Cracked Driveway? Ace Concrete Contractors Austin Is Here to Help!
Although DIY crack repairs are possible, going in on your own could result in even more damage. Moreover, concrete repair can be dangerous, and it could lead to injuries if you don’t know what you’re doing.
When you choose to work with Ace Concrete Contractors Austin, you can rest assured that cracks in your driveway will be dealt with quickly and efficiently. We also get to the root of the problem, ensuring that the problem will not recur.
To learn more about our services or request your free estimate, contact us today!
Frequently Asked Questions
If the crack is small, you can simply apply a sealant to prevent further damage. A crack filler can be used as described above to repair larger cracks.
Yes, you should repair cracks in a concrete driveway to keep them from worsening and preserve the driveway’s integrity and appearance. When cracks are ignored, moisture can seep in and cause more damage from freezing and thawing cycles. The driveway’s lifespan and appearance improve when you address cracks timeously.
To repair cracks permanently, use a high-quality crack filler and follow the steps mentioned above to ensure that your cracked concrete driveway is restored to its former glory.
While you can repair minor cracks in your driveway yourself, we do not recommend attempting to repair major damage yourself, especially if you have no prior experience or expertise. Attempting a DIY repair can have costly consequences, so we recommend contacting us if you have never completed a project of this nature.