The weather is warming up quickly, but along with the start of a beautiful summer season comes the not-so-beautiful home repairs. You’ve spent a good portion of the winter months clearing snow off your driveway, but now that you can see it clearly you might notice it needs some TLC. Winter can be very damaging to driveways in Canada with ice, salt, plows, and the freeze-thaw cycle all taking a toll. It’s important to address these driveway issues when you notice them and do some simple repairs before they get any worse.

Concrete Crack Repair

Hairline cracks in your concrete driveway are inevitable and fixing them is just a part of maintaining a large concrete surface. The key is to take care of them as they appear to help prevent them from widening and creating worse problems down the road. If you have cracks that are larger than a hairline, but not large enough to require a professional, read on to learn how to fill cracks using concrete resurfacer.

There are a few steps involved in repairing cracks in your driveway:

  1. Choose a warm, sunny day with no chance of rain.
  2. Completely remove any loose concrete or debris from inside the crack using a wire brush.
  3. Brush out the dust and small particles using a broom.
  4. Choose a concrete crack sealant, and, using the manufacturers instructions, fill the crack with the caulk.
  5. Smooth out to ensure it fills the space completely and doesn’t overflow.
  6. Let dry completely before driving over it.

Seal Expansion Joints in Your Concrete Driveway

The expansion joints in your driveway serve an important purpose, especially in a climate like the one we have in Canada. When the ground moves during our seasonal freeze-thaw cycle, expansion joints allow your driveway to move with it. If the joints are not sealed properly they can allow water to seep into the concrete and cause the ground underneath to sink. Once the ground has begun sinking it can lead to major structural damage and will require you to call a professional concrete company.

To seal your driveway expansion joints follow these steps:

  1. Attach a masonry blade to your circular saw.
  2. Use the saw to carefully clean out the expansion joint crack.
  3. Purchase a silicone caulk specifically made for use on concrete.
  4. Using the silicone, draw a solid bead along the crack.
  5. Smooth out to ensure it is filling the space properly and is making contact with each side of the joint.

Concrete Driveway Sealer

Now that you’ve inspected your driveway, filled any cracks, and resealed your expansion joints, the final step is to reseal it. Concrete needs to be sealed every 3 to 5 years depending on usage and climate. Identifying and ceasing activities that may cause extra wear, such as plow guards being set too low, using studded tires, or using excess salt, can help extend this timeline. Water will bead on the surface of properly sealed concrete. If you notice this is no longer happening, it’s a sign you should reseal it soon.

Many people don’t seal their concrete paths or driveway, however unsealed concrete is vulnerable to surface flaking or minor cracks caused by water penetration. By sealing it, you are not only creating a more attractive surface but also protecting it from wear and tear.

When select your sealant there are two major categories: penetrating sealant, and non-penetrating sealants. Penetrating sealants go below the surface of the concrete and create a hydrophobic barrier that keeps out water and protects against harsh weather, stains, freeze-thaw, and prevents slips. Non-penetrating sealants form an outer barrier on the concrete and creates a sheen on the surface that will enhance the colour of the concrete. This type of sealant will require the addition of a traction additive to reduce slipping hazards.

Penetrating sealants containing silane are recommended for driveways in a northern climate. Choose a brand that offers a high percentage of active formulation for the best and longest lasting results.

To reseal your driveway follow these steps:

  1. Clean your driveway thoroughly, ideally using a pressure washer.
  2. Using a chemical stripper, remove the previous sealant according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Apply a thin layer of sealant using a roller.
  4. Allow the first layer to dry completely.
  5. Apply a second layer, going in the opposite direction from the first.

Concrete Resurfacing

Concrete driveways will last for decades if properly taken care of, however small cracks and stains can appear over time and reduce your curb appeal. Resurfacing is a relatively simple way of breathing new life into your driveway.

To resurface your concrete driveway, follow these steps:

  1. Purchase a good quality concrete resurfacer.
  2. Mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Clean your driveway thoroughly, ideally using a pressure washer.
  4. If you have cracks wider than a hairline, you can use the resurfacer to fill these in. Mix up a thick batch of the resurfacer and use a trowel to press the material firmly into the crack.
  5. Allow this to cure overnight.
  6. The next day mix up a thinner batch of resurfacer.
  7. Spray down your driveway to help prevent it from drying too quickly.
  8. Apply a thin layer of resurfacer over the entire surface using a squeegee.
  9. Carefully move it around to even it out, try to avoid creating marks from the edge of the squeegee.
  10. When the concrete is partially set, use a broom to gently create texture on the top to create a slip resistant finish.

Stamped Concrete Driveway

Concrete is one of the best looking and lowest maintenance options for driveways, but that doesn’t mean you can completely ignore it. There are many things you can do yourself but know when you can handle a DIY, and when you should call in the pros. If your driveway has cracks wider than ¼ inch, or dips in the concrete lower than 1 inch you should call the concrete experts in to take a look. Patching large cracks or resurfacing an old driveway is simply postponing the issue and might even make the situation worse. Construction season in Canada lasts from April to November and can fill up very quickly, so don’t hesitate to call for a quote.