Concrete driveways are popular for homeowners due to their long-lasting durability and versatility. A concrete driveway can last up to 30 years or more with proper maintenance. However, your driveway may show signs of wear and tear as time passes, such as cracking, settling, or pitting.
Knowing how to identify these issues and when it's time to repair or replace your concrete driveway is essential in ensuring you get the most out of your investment.
Do you have small cracks in your concrete driveway? Are there hairline fractures from the expansion and contraction of the concrete? Do you see patches of discoloration or moss growing on it? Does it feel bumpy and uncomfortable to drive over?
If so, it might be time to either repair or replace your driveway. Luckily, there are a few telltale signs that can help you determine what kind of action to take. If you answer yes to any of these questions, then it’s time for a new driveway!
The cost and logistics of installing a new one will depend on the size of your property, but as a general rule, expect to pay around $10 per square foot for services from a professional contractor. With that said, read on to learn more about repairing versus replacing your current concrete driveway.
Deciding On A New Concrete Driveway
If you’ve determined that you need to replace your concrete driveway, the first step will be to find out what type you want. While there are many types of concrete you can use for a driveway, two of the most common are asphalt and concrete.
Asphalt is a very affordable option, but it has a relatively short lifespan and is prone to cracking. On the other hand, concrete lasts much longer, but it is more expensive.
To decide which type of concrete to use, consider the following factors:
What vehicles regularly use your driveway? Vehicles like cars, trucks, and motorcycles have different weights and will cause the concrete to wear at different rates. If you have heavy vehicles that use the driveway, you’ll want to use a concrete mix with a higher percentage of Portland cement.
What are the average temperatures and rainfall amounts in your climate? If you live in a wet climate, you’ll want to use a concrete mix with a higher percentage of cement, as it is more resistant to water. Freezing temperatures may do further damage, so you should also look for a calcium chloride-free mix.
How much are you willing to spend on a new concrete driveway? Although concrete repair is more expensive than asphalt, you can reduce the cost using a concrete mix with a lower percentage of Portland cement.
Steps For Installing A New Concrete Driveway
Once you decide on a concrete mix, you can install a new driveway. Here are the general steps for installing a new concrete driveway:
Preparing The Ground
The ground under your driveway will significantly impact its longevity, so you’ll want to ensure it’s solid and free of debris. To do this, you can add a layer of gravel to the dirt or use a concrete base.
Preparing The Base
Once the ground under your driveway is clean and solid, you can begin laying the base. The base is what the concrete will be poured on top of, so it must be even, smooth, and free of debris. You can lay a base using gravel, a rubber base, or a concrete base.
Mixing And Pouring The Concrete
Once the base is in place, you can mix the concrete and pour it into the forms. Make sure to pour the concrete slowly and bang the forms when the concrete starts to set.
Curing The Concrete
Once you’ve poured the concrete, you’ll want to let it cure for 28 days so that it is completely hardened. You can speed up the curing process by covering the driveway with a tarp and spraying it with water every few days.
Rebuilding A Driveway
A few small cracks on a concrete slab can quickly become worse over time and eventually lead to the need for a complete replacement.
If you’ve determined that your concrete driveway is beyond repair, or you don’t want to pay the extra money for a concrete driveway, then you can use a different material. Here are a few materials you can use to rebuild a driveway:
Asphalt is a common and affordable option that can be used to rebuild a driveway. To do this, you’ll start by removing the old concrete, mixing up a new batch of asphalt, and pouring it into the forms. Asphalt driveways are relatively easy to install and maintain but have a shorter lifespan than concrete.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle and mess of asphalt, you can use crushed gravel to rebuild your driveway. To do this, you’ll first need to smooth out the surface and remove the old concrete.
You can also use concrete to rebuild a driveway. This is the most expensive option, but it also lasts the longest. To do this, you’ll want to remove the old concrete, smooth out the surface, and lay down a new layer of concrete.
Installing A New Driveway
If you need to replace your poor-quality concrete, consider installing a new driveway altogether. While the two can be very similar, there are some key differences between the two that you’ll want to keep in mind before you begin the process.
First, a new driveway will be made with better-quality materials than your previous one. This means it will last longer and be able to withstand more wear and tear over time. Raw materials like gravel and sand can be used to make concrete, but they’re not as durable as, say, asphalt.
Asphalt is a popular material used in constructing new driveways because it’s easier to work with and is more resistant to weather conditions. It’s also known for its long-lasting durability, making it an ideal choice for those who want their driveway to last for the long haul.
When To Repair And When To Replace
When deciding whether or not to repair your concrete surfaces, you’ll want first to determine if the cracks, fissures, and patches are due to normal wear and tear. If so, you should repair it if you plan to keep it.
Some of the most common issues with concrete driveways are due to the ground underneath them expanding and contracting throughout the year. These issues can be fixed with crack repairs and other methods to help keep your concrete in good condition while prolonging its life.
However, if the issues are due to more severe problems like poor-quality materials or improper installation, you’ll likely want to replace them altogether.
Replacing your driveway is usually a good idea if you notice patches of discoloration or moss growing on it, if it’s incredibly bumpy and uncomfortable to drive over, or if you have small cracks and fissures throughout the entire thing.
Evaluate The Severity Of Any Damage
One way to know if it's time to repair or replace your concrete driveway is by evaluating the severity of any damage that has occurred. If only minor cracks are visible on the surface, then repairing the existing driveway may be enough.
However, larger-scale cracking or settling can indicate a more serious problem beneath the surface and may require a total replacement. The driveway repair vs. replacement decision should also consider how extensive the repairs will be, how much they will cost, and how long the repairs are expected to last.
Gravel driveways are usually easier to repair than concrete driveways since they don’t require heavy equipment or specialized tools. Therefore, repairing a gravel driveway is often more cost-effective than replacing it.
Age Of Your Concrete Driveway
The concrete surface will also likely deteriorate over time due to regular use and exposure to the elements. The age of your driveway can help you determine how much longer it will last and if it’s time to take on a replacement project.
Another factor to consider is how old your concrete driveway is. If it's been several decades since it was first installed, then it may be time to replace the entire driveway instead of spending money on costly repairs.
Additionally, suppose you live in an area with extreme weather conditions, such as high temperatures or heavy rains. This will also affect how often you need to repair or replace your concrete driveway.
While costly, driveway replacement may save money in the long run because the new materials will be made with better quality and last longer.
Concrete Driveway Traffic
Finally, how much use does your concrete driveway get? If you have a lot of traffic going across the surface, this may cause more wear and tear over time and necessitate replacing the driveway sooner than expected.
A concrete or asphalt driveway can last for many years, but how much you use it will play a large role in how quickly it starts to show signs of wear and tear.
Properly installed and maintained driveways will last longer, but if you have a lot of foot or vehicle traffic, it may be time to replace your driveway sooner rather than later.
Even though a concrete driveway is a long-lasting investment, it can sometimes need repaving. This can be due to poor installation or materials, the ground underneath shifting, or the weather eroding it over time.
If your concrete driveway needs repair or replacement, don’t hesitate to get it done. After all, a concrete driveway is more than just a road you drive on to get to work—it’s a part of your home’s curb appeal.