Concrete cracks are a common occurrence found on many concrete driveways, patios and paved surfaces. The American Concrete Institute backs this up, stating that expecting crack-free and curl-free surfaces is unrealistic. They added that fractures do not always occur because of inadequacies in a floor’s design or construction.
Fortunately, there are plenty of crack repair solutions available out there. And as long as you have the tools and the materials, your pavement can be back in good shape soon.
But before we tackle the steps on how to repair cracks in concrete driveway, it is critical to know their different types and causes first. Understanding what kind of fracture you’re dealing with will point you to the most appropriate remedy.
Common Types and Causes of Concrete Cracks
After seeing cracks on your cemented slab or wall, it’s natural to assume that something likely went wrong with the construction. However, this isn’t always the case. Concrete cracks come in different forms and can be caused by various factors.
Below are some of the most common types of concrete cracks often found on paved surfaces:
Expansion Concrete Cracks
Heat causes concrete to expand and push against adjacent slabs, so most pavements have expansion joints installed when they’re poured. These joints are filled with compressible material like lumber, asphalt, or rubber to absorb the compression. But when these joints widen over time, they start accumulating dirt, debris, and moisture that can erode the foundation.
Heaving Concrete Cracks
In freezing temperatures, frost heaves lift the ground and eventually create ruptures on cemented surfaces. Aside from that, the repeated freezing and thawing cycle also does a number on slabs.
Heaving concrete cracks can also form when large tree roots grow too close to a slab. The strong roots can lift the concrete, push it out of place, and ultimately crack its surface.
Settling Concrete Cracks
If the ground or soil below a concrete surface settles down, the voids formed underneath reduce the support that the slabs receive. This consequently puts significant pressure on the concrete until it breaks down and cracks.
While concrete is known for being hard-wearing and durable, it pays to remember that there is still a limit to how much weight it can support. Things like large recreational vehicles, construction equipment, RVs, and even snowmelt can put excessive weight on the slab and the ground beneath, causing the pavement to fracture.
Crazing cracks are commonly associated with premature drying. These fractures are a network of fine lines, often resembling a spider web or a shattered glass. Fortunately, these are usually aesthetic problems and do not signal structural issues.
How to Repair Cracks in Concrete Driveway
Some cracks may be simply an eyesore, while others may indicate a more extensive underlying concern. Now that you have a basic idea of how to tell one type of crack apart from the rest, it’s time to learn how to repair them.
In the following sections, we discuss four different ways to mend fractures based on how big and wide they are.
Repairing Crazing Concrete Cracks
As mentioned, crazing cracks are usually only aesthetic problems. And if you see that your driveway has no other significant issues, you can resolve this cosmetic issue by applying a top-coat sealing product.
- Clean the driveway. Prep the surface for top-coat sealing by removing leaves and other debris that may be stuck on it. Then, scrub the entire driveway with soap and rinse with clear water using a pressure washer.
- Treat oil stains. Apply oil spot primer on damaged areas, adding a second coat if necessary. Let dry.
- Apply the concrete sealer. Once your pavement is clean, spread the concrete sealer according to the instructions on its label. Daub it generously to fill all cracks and pores.
Repairing Narrow Concrete Cracks
Narrow cracks may appear to be minor fractures, but don’t let their unassuming appearance trick you. Some are actually quite deep, reaching through the concrete’s entire thickness.
If you’re dealing with deep, narrow cracks, you can use a foam backer rod to a depth of ¼ inch to fill the gap. This creates a base that will hold the repair caulk or crack filler. After this, you can fill the crack using your preferred caulk or filler according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
You will need to use a vinyl concrete patching compound for hairline cracks instead of caulk or crack filler. This is because the latter usually peels off of the surface over time.
Repairing Wide Concrete Cracks
If you are not sure how to repair cracks in concrete driveway that are wider than ¼ inch, here are the fundamental steps you will need to take:
- Prep the Fractured Surface
Before anything else, you’ll need to chisel out the crack using a hammer or masonry chisel to create a backward-angled cut. This widens the base of the crack and lets you easily remove any debris from the concrete. If necessary, you can use a wire brush to dislodge any remaining loose material from the crack. You may also clean it using a pressure washer.
- Remove Any Pooling Water
After cleaning the affected area, remove all debris and remaining water. You don’t necessarily have to dry the surface; just make sure to remove any pooling water with a wet/dry shop vacuum.
- Clean the Driveway
Lastly, make sure the entire driveway is ready for your repair work. Remove debris like leaves and dust from the pavement before scrubbing and rinsing it with a pressure washer.
- Prep the Concrete Patching Compound
Now that your cemented driveway is ready, it’s time for the main event. Prepare the concrete patching compound according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Apply the Compound to the Cracks
For this part, you will need a trowel to apply the patching compound into the crack properly. Stab it into the material to ensure the latter reaches deep into the fracture. Keep doing this until the fracture is filled to the brim.
- Feather the Compound
Once you fill the fracture, smooth the surface of the patch by feathering the compound into the surrounding surfaces. This helps create an even look.
- Let the Compound Cure
Once you’re satisfied with your work, it’s time to let the compound cure — again, according to the manufacturer’s directions. After this, you can paint or seal the patch and its surrounding areas to achieve a more seamless finish.
Repairing Deep, Jagged Cracks
Filling large, uneven, and deeper cracks is possible following the detailed steps listed above, but this fix is usually only temporary. So to get the best results, it’s best to consult experts in concrete repairs and maintenance. They will be able to assess the issue and recommend the most suitable fix for it, whether it be resurfacing or pouring fresh concrete.
Entrust Your Property to Certified Professionals
If your concrete driveway, patio, steps, or other paved surfaces begin to crack, the good news is that they can always be repaired. Your best bet is to consult professionals in concrete repair who will advise you on what to do or what materials to use to restore your pavement.
With this, note that some concrete cracks may not be easily fixed with a DIY solution. On top of that, mending fractures yourself may even aggravate the issue and lead to more costly repairs, especially if you have no experience in concrete work. And, of course, there are also extreme cases wherein your pavement may need to be removed or replaced.
If you want to get the job done right, remember that you can always turn to your local experts in concrete repairs. Rather than take on the extra work of learning how to repair cracks in concrete driveway, entrust your property to certified professionals who will ensure that you get the results you want without taking on the messy and exhausting work yourself.
If your concrete driveway or patio needs repairs, don’t hesitate to speak to our representatives today. Our team will be happy to help you keep your pavement in excellent condition for years to come.
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