Tips for Fixing Driveway and Sidewalk Cracks After a Brutal Winter

DrivwayThe Effects of Changing Seasons

Most people enjoy the changing of the seasons. The regular cycles of weather provide a change in routine and are essential to the health of many plants and animals. However, those seasons often wreak havoc on residences, especially custom homes with extensive custom exteriors.

When those homes are located in areas where the temperatures fall before freezing, the damage to driveways and sidewalks is sometimes extensive. Many people use salt and salt derivatives to melt away ice and this causes many types of asphalt and concrete to erode and crumble. But fixing driveway and sidewalk cracks is easy to do yourself.

Additionally, when water leaks into cracks, it expands when it freezes and increases the damage to these surfaces. Left unrepaired, the degree of damage will expand and create the need for expensive repairs. However, a few handy tips can provide the information needed to both repair the cracks and stop more damage from occurring.

Even if the repairs are on asphalt structures at a custom home, these simple steps can restore a professional, finished appearance. However, concrete repairs will often be visible because of the difficulty in getting exact color matches.

Dealing with Concrete

If the sidewalk or driveway is made of concrete, a solid repair can last as long as the original work. Two common problems with concrete surfaces are spalling and breaking around corners. Both of these are jobs that will take three to four hours and use standard materials.

When working with concrete, choosing the right weather is an important consideration. The ideal temperatures are between 50 to 90 degrees on a day when there is no rain and none expected for at least 48 hours.

Small cracks should be sealed with a quality urethane caulk. This will help keep additional water out of the crack and slow down erosion. Use a nail to push the caulk in and then lightly cover with a concrete mix. While effective, the mix will wash away and require replacement periodically.

When repairing spalling that is more than surface peeling, it’s necessary to saw out the area with a special masonry blade. Home repair stores carry special concrete mixes for patching; these will shrink less and spread easier. However, for patches deeper than two inches, a regular concrete mix is best to prevent shrinking and cracking. An acrylic fortifier also adds strength to a patch.

Repairing cracks around corners use the same materials and the area are prepped by sawing a clean cut from the broken area. The repair should be firmly braced while curing so it will bond to the old concrete.

Working with Asphalt Driveways and Walks

Asphalt is a more convenient DIY project than concrete. The common problems with asphalt include:

  • Alligator cracks
  • Pot holes
  • Sink holes

The first step for any asphalt repairs is to clean the area as well as possible, especially any vegetation growing in the cracks. Firm sweeping will usually do the job, or water under pressure. If water is used, make sure the area is totally dry before repairs.

Cold asphalt repair material is available for small pothole repairs of up to 10 inches or so. Hollow out any potholes and overfill by one to two inches and tamp the surface down firmly.

Use a special alligator asphalt repair material for these cracks. This dries harder and is designed to fill the cracks. Spread the material over the crack and squeegee it in. Catch these cracks before they spread or worse damage occurs.

These simple DIY projects will go a long way to repairing the damage caused by a rough winter.

+Ken Uhrich likes houses. In fact he builds them.  You can drop him a line at the Custom Home Group website

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