Repairing Driveway Cracks
Fixing a cracked driveway doesn’t have to cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. It doesn’t require five of your friends coming over to help you. It’s the perfect weekend warrior project and with a little diligence and attention to detail is pretty easy to do. It’s also important to do, because cracks in your driveway not only hurt your home’s appearance, but could lead to bigger problems like flooding and foundation issues. So let’s nip it in the bud early! Here are some tips for both asphalt and concrete driveway repair.
First, judge the size of the crack in the driveway. This will help determine what type of materials you’ll be working with. For cracks up to ¾ inch, use pourable crack filler. For larger cracks ½ to 3 inches wide, use stone grade crack filler or a patch. QPR, BlackJack, and Quikrete are popular brands and are available at most hardware stores. The fillers themselves usually costs less than $15. Most of the time, your repairs will be permanent and maintenance free.
For small cracks, start by removing all dirt and vegetation from the crack with a wire brush, screwdriver, or trowel tool. Then, use a garden hose or air compressor to flush out any remaining debris and allow the crack to dry before applying any crack filler. Next, mix your materials according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Fill the crack flush to the adjoining pavement. Smooth out the crack even to the height of the surrounding pavement.
During the drying process, the crack filler will soak into the crack and may need a second coat. Allow the crack to dry 24 hours before applying a second coat. In addition, you will need to wait at least 24-48 hours before driving or walking on the repaired area to allow the material to dry.
For larger cracks, you’ll be using stone grade crack filler or patching grout. After any debris in the cracks has been flushed out and the crack is completely dry, scoop out the crack filler and begin to fill the crack with filler. Compact the material into the crack making sure the whole crack has been filled. Once the crack has been filled, the repair is complete and your repair is open to traffic.
Cracks in concrete are a little less common than asphalt. They can be caused by growing tree roots, impact damage, or weight overload. However, the most common cause of concrete cracks is standing water, which, over time, works its way into the concrete and expands and contracts according to the temperature. Eliminating the cause of the the crack will keep you from repeating this task in the future.
As with asphalt, the first step should be cleaning the crack to create clean surfaces that are ready to bond with the repair materials. Begin by breaking off any loose pieces of concrete with a screwdriver or chisel, without needlessly enlarging the crack. Once you’ve cleaned the crack’s edges, use a firm wired brush to remove any remaining debris. Next, remove as much loose debris from within the crack as possible.
For fixing small, hairline concrete cracks, use textured caulk, concrete sealer or pourable grout. If you’re using concrete sealer or pourable grout, begin by lightly wetting the crack — a spray bottle filled with water will work well (textured caulk is best applied to a dry crack). With all products, completely fill the crack and use a pointing trowel to push the grout or sealer into the crack. If you’re using textured caulk, provide some overfill to account for shrinkage as the caulk dries. If you’re wearing thick rubber gloves, you can use your thumb to ensure that you’re completely filling the crack.
For cracks wider than ½ inch, you may want to consider undercutting the crack to make sure that the crack is wider below the surface than at the surface. This will help ensure that the patching material used will not pop out of the crack when the concrete expands and contracts.
If you’re using pourable concrete grout, only apply ¼ inch of grout per application. You can either fill the crack with sand leaving ¼ inch to the surface of the crack to be filled with the grout or make multiple grout applications that are ¼ inch thick, allowing adequate time for each application to dry. Wet the crack slightly and begin filling it in with grout, applying layers no thicker than ¼ inch. Overfill the crack slightly to compensate for the slight shrinkage the grout will experience as it dries.
If you’ll be using vinyl concrete patch material, be sure to follow directions and only mix as much as you can use within the specified time, which is usually less than 20 minutes. Begin by wetting the crack with a spray bottle or hose. Spread the patch material into the crack using a pointing trowel, paying attention to fill the crack in layers no thicker than ¼ inch. Vinyl concrete patch material shrinks as it dries so applying it in layers will allow you distribute it more equally, so that it is less likely to crack. Once your initial layer has had enough time to dry (per package instructions — usually a couple of hours), proceed with additional applications until the crack is full.
If you choose to use textured caulk, keep in mind it has to be applied to a dry surface. If the crack you’re repairing is deeper than 3/8 inch, fill the crack with sand or foam backer board. Cut off the tip of the applicator to a size that matches your crack, not exceeding ¼ inch (refer to caulk manufacturer provided guidelines). In addition to completely filling the crack, apply some overfill to account for shrinkage as the caulk dries.
As you’re finishing applications, use a pointing trowel to blend the final patch material with the surrounding concrete to form a good seal of the crack. Once you are done filling the crack, use a small brush, broom or even a block of wood to rub across your patch to help match the consistency of your patch surface with the surface of the original concrete.
Repairing Brick Paver Driveways
While the installation of a brick paver driveway may be expensive and time consuming initially, the maintenance and repair on one is relatively simple.
Cleaning a brick paved driveway regularly is essential, but especially before a repair. Sweep the entire driveway surface. This helps to dispel the dry dust. You can use a mixture of tap water and white vinegar to eliminate oil stains. You can also use a soft-bristled brush for cleaning grime. You can wash the pavers with a garden hose, which is the easiest way to break down the grime impacted deep within the crevices. If you must use detergents, don’t use bleach unless you want a discolored driveway!
Now, on to the repair. To assess the damage on the paver brick that needs repairing, loosen the brick with a hammer and chisel. Remove the brick and inspect it thoroughly. If the cracks are superficial, you can easily repair the brick. If the brick appears damaged, you need to replace it.
If the brick has only slight cracking on the exposed side, you can still use it. Turn the cracked side inwards, i.e. towards the inner mortar lining and patching the new, external surface. If you plan to replace the brick, get a suitable replacement. A mismatched brick will stick out like a sore thumb.
Next, prepare the mortar mix. Mix the mortar according to its packaged instructions. Scoop out a small portion of this mix with a trowel. Let the mortar mix dry for a few minutes. Now, check the mix for color consistency and overall thickness. The color should be somewhat similar to the mortar lining of the existing brick paver. The consistency shouldn’t be too thick or thin, workable without having an easy flow. Use the trowel to apply the mortar along the inner side of the paver surface from where the brick was retrieved. Make this mortar lining about 1/8-inch thick.
If you are replacing the paver brick, proceed by wetting one side of the brick. Spread some mortar on the wet side of the brick and spread it evenly using the trowel. Place this brick within the mortar-layered surface. If you are repairing the paver brick, use the cracked side as the interior side. Wet it and layer it with mortar. Place it in the same manner.
Push down upon the repaired/replaced brick. You may need to use a rubber mallet. This helps to squeeze-out excess mortar. Scrape-off the excess mortar with the trowel. Using a moistened cloth, wipe the mortar off the brick. Use a jointing tool to contour the edges of the repaired brick. Allow the mortar to dry, for at least a day. Finish the repair surface by painting it in accordance with the hue of the surrounding paver surface.
By now, you should be able to repair cracks in three different types of driveways. Nevertheless, if cracks continue to reappear, call in a professional to rule out any larger problems, or even if you just have questions. Sometimes it’s best to let the pros do it right the first time!