When you add a concrete driveway to your home as part of a landscaping overhaul, you want to make sure that the paved surface lasts for decades. A well-maintained concrete driveway not only provides a smooth surface for your vehicles, it also adds to your home's curb appeal and property value. If you want to avoid making frequent repairs to the driveway, heed some basic tips for concrete maintenance.
Apply a Sealant
It does not matter if you have a plain, stamped, stained, stenciled or engraved concrete driveway, you should seal it. A sealed driveway is less vulnerable to cracks. It also looks smoother, darker and cleaner than an unsealed paved area.
You should apply a sealant to your driveway every other year or so. If you want to make sure the sealant is applied correctly, hire an asphalt paving contractor to perform the job for you (more info).
Professionals will make sure that the areas around your driveway do not get exposed to sealant. They will also have access to higher-quality commercial-grade sealants that you may not be able to buy as an individual consumer.
If you decide to apply the sealant on your own, do yourself a favor and be meticulous about following the manufacturer's instructions. You do not want to expose your skin to the sealant or get it into your eyes.
When you notice that the sealant is beginning to wear off, it is time to reapply a coat. Cars that leak grease and oil can break down sealant. The frequency of severe weather such as snow, wind-driven rain and extreme heat also affects the lifespan of sealant.
Take Care of Unsightly Cracks Right Away
There is nothing you can do to stop the development of cracks in concrete. Many of the cracks will be so small that you will not notice them. However, when the surface develops clearly visible hairline cracks, you should repair the concrete as soon as possible.
For cracks and other defects, you can apply products available from hardware stores. Some of these concrete repair products are fine powders or easy-to-apply sealants in caulking tubes.
Just Say No to De-icing Agents
If you get weary from dealing with snow and ice during winter mornings when you head to work, you may be tempted to use de-icers to thaw out the frozen areas of your concrete driveway. However, using de-icing products can cause severe damage such as pitting and disintegration. The chemicals in de-icers also break down sealant.
The best way to deal with snow and ice is to grab a shovel and get to work. When you are done shoveling, add sand to the driveway for traction.
Keep the Driveway Clean
When you park your car on the driveway, the surface will develop stains from leaking grease and oil. If you have a garage, keep your car inside as much as possible to avoid getting unsightly stains on your driveway.
You can clean stains on concrete with a power washer. Either invest in a power washer or rent one from a hardware store. Some concrete paving firms also provide cleaning services.
Use a non-toxic cleaning liquid with the power washer. You can make your own eco-friendly concrete cleaning solution with a mixture of vinegar or baking soda and water. For tough stains, use a mixture of bleach and water and clean the spot with the solution and a push broom
Be Careful of Where You Plant Trees and Shrubs
Do not plant trees and bushes near the driveway. While a tree or shrub-lined driveway is aesthetically pleasing, the roots from the plants will cause problems if you plant them too close to the concrete.
Strong roots will push up the concrete, making the surface uneven and causing the material to crack and crumble. Weeds will also infiltrate the cracks caused by plants and make your driveway look dilapidated.
Compared to other structures around your home, a concrete driveway requires little maintenance. However, with the wear and tear of vehicles and extreme weather over time, the driveway surface will deteriorate. Add concrete repair to your regular home repair duties to make sure your driveway does not detract from your home's exterior.