If you've been politely overlooking those cracks in your concrete driveway, hoping they'll heal themselves like a paper cut, unfortunately, a band-aid won't work its magic on something of this size. Driveways are exposed to harsh elements on a regular basis so it's no surprise when cracks happen now and then but, it is essential that they are repaired properly and in a timely manner. If not, the condition can quickly grow to be much worse due to moisture, erosion and subsequent thaw and freeze cycles.
Why This is a Job for a Professional
Chances are, if you have cracks in a certain area, there's a reason for it! A paving contractor will be able to evaluate the whole area and determine why one spot may be more vulnerable and make suggestions on how to correct it. Proper water drainage is crucial or you will be faced with a continuous cycle of repairs year after year.
You should also know that properly repaired cracks in a concrete driveway aren't as simple as filling the area in. The space has to not only be cleaned but properly prepared if it is going to bond with new materials. This is no easy task! You need to use either a chisel or a screwdriver to break away loose pieces without making it worse. How much is too much or not enough? Well, unless you are a trained professional, all you can really do is guess which is never ideal in a repair job.
You also will need to rent an air compressor and clean away debris in the cracks. Of course, if you're dealing with large cracks, then you have the pleasure of trying to work with vinyl concrete patch material or textured caulk and foam backer board, all of which can be a disaster if you're not experienced using it.
While you do need to hire a paving contractor, you don't have to be scared or shocked by the bill when it arrives. There are a few things that you can do to make this important repair as painless as possible.
- Insurance - Always make sure that your paving contractor carries General Liability Insurance where required. While you may assume you're not responsible for any injuries obtained while they're on the job, if they don't have insurance, they could file a claim against your Homeowners Insurance which could result in an increase in your premium.
- Referral Service - The right referral service will be able to connect you with a paving contractor in your area that has been checked out already so you know it's a professional you can trust to do a quality job. Hiring someone local will decrease your bill if the contractor happens to charge for travel time which many do. Also, knowing that a service has already looked into the contractor's qualifications and references just offers a little peace of mind.
- Buy Materials - For hairline cracks, the repairs could require concrete sealer, textured caulk or pourable grout. Larger cracks will likely use these materials plus sand, vinyl concrete patch material and foam backer board. Generally, your contractor will be able to tell you what materials they need or prefer to work with. If you purchase these yourself, you save from paying a significant markup on the cost.
- Be Prepared - Not having vehicles in the driveway is a good place to start! It also doesn't hurt to give the area a good bath with a scrub brush and your garden hose. The less that your hired professional has to do to prepare the area, the less time the job will take. This means pulling any weeds out of the cracks too!
Always be sure to ask your paving contractor for suggestions and solutions as to why one area may be vulnerable. They could fix the driveway so water properly drains off so you won't have to deal with so many cracks in the future.
Posted by: TrustedPros