Concrete is one of the most popular surfaces for driveways. It’s easy to see why when you consider the superior durability, performance, and long life span of a concrete driveway. It is one of the main differences between concrete and asphalt driveways.
However, concrete can crack. It is especially true if you live in a cold climate where the freeze-thaw cycle of groundwater can cause the concrete to move, known as heaving. It leads to concrete cracks. Luckily, concrete cracks can easily be repaired in a few hours with a bit of know-how. Read on to find out how to repair cracks on a concrete driveway.
Tools You Need
- Pressure washer/soap nozzle for garden hose
- Driveway degreaser
- Stiff bristled brush
- Concrete, sand, and gravel (depending on the depth of the crack, see Step Two)
- Mixing paddle and drill (optional)
- Flat edged trowel
- Spray bottle
- Rubber squeegee
Step 1: Clean The Driveway
Before you carry out any repairs, you need to make sure everything is clean before you start. A pressure washer is the best tool for the job. Since driveways deal with plenty of abuse from oily engines and sooty exhaust fumes, you’re going to need a good degreaser to put into your pressure washer.
Make multiple passes with your pressure washer for best results. If you don’t have a pressure washer, a garden hose with a soap nozzle will do the trick. Use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub the surface to get rid of loose debris and stubborn stains. Make sure to thoroughly rinse the driveway with fresh water. Leave to dry before starting with the repairs.
Step 2: Mix The Concrete
The consistency of your repair material depends on the cracks you’re repairing.
For repairing larger cracks, add gravel to your concrete mix. It is the same mix you would use to pour a concrete slab. The gravel adds the strength needed to repair deep cracks. I like to use the ready mix concrete from my local hardware store so that I don’t have to worry about ratios.
For small cracks, you may be able to omit the gravel in your concrete mix. Ask somebody at your hardware store or read the instructions if you’re unsure.
A concrete mixer is the best way to mix concrete. However, this isn’t a common household tool, so you will need a different method of pouring concrete. If you’re not using gravel in your concrete mix, a mixing paddle chucked into a drill will help with mixing. If you are using gravel, a spade, and some elbow grease is the most common way to go.
Pro Tip: I like to mix concrete in a wheelbarrow. This makes it easy to move around at any point during the project and also brings the concrete to a more comfortable height for mixing.
Step 3: Pour The Concrete
Pour the concrete into the cracks and holes you’re repairing. If you don’t mix your concrete in a wheelbarrow, then a bucket will make it easier to carry small amounts of concrete to where you need it. Otherwise, use your wheelbarrow and spade.
This step is messy, but don’t worry. The clean-up comes later. This step is about getting as much loose material as deep into the crack as possible.
Step 4: Fill The Cracks
Use a flat-edged trowel to work the repair into the cracks. You’re trying to fill them as best as possible, so work as much concrete as you can.
Step 5: Smooth The Wet Concrete
Use your trowel to smooth out the concrete and remove any excess material. This excess material can be reused while it’s still wet and workable. Smooth the surface as best as you can. Get this right takes practice.
Step 6: Allow To Dry
Leave the concrete to dry overnight. If you choose not to resurface the driveway, this is the final step. Once the concrete is dry, you’re done.
Pro Tip: If you want to write your name in wet cement, this is the time to do it.
Step 7: Resurface The Driveway
For a completely seamless repair, you’re going to have to resurface the entire driveway.
To do this, mix up some more concrete without gravel. You’re looking for a thinner consistency similar to pancake batter. There are also products on the market known as concrete resurfacer. You might find this product at your local hardware store. If not, regular cement will do the trick.
Brush off any vegetation or debris that’s accumulated on your driveway in the meantime. Before you start, wet the surface to prevent the concrete from drying too quickly. A spray bottle is useful here for smaller areas.
Use a rubber squeegee to spread a thin layer of concrete across the entire driveway. Getting a consistent finish in this step takes practice, so don’t beat yourself up if you have swirl marks at the end. It isn’t something I can teach you in this tutorial. It comes down to pure practice.
Step 8: Finishing Off
To give the concrete a textured finish, you can use a stiff-bristled brush on the surface as it begins to set. It brings the sand in the mix to the surface and results in a textured, non-skid surface. Allow 6 hours for the concrete to dry before walking on it and 24 hours or more before driving on it.
As you can see from the guide above, repairing cracks in concrete is a DIY job that can easily be done over a weekend. Repairing cracks is one of the few maintenance jobs required for concrete upkeep.
Making a repaired crack blend in with old concrete is near impossible. If you want a completely uniform finish for your concrete driveway, you’re going to have to resurface the entire driveway. It greatly increases the time and resources required for the job but results in a seamless finish, so the choice is up to you.
What do you think? Do you feel confident that you could repair some cracks in your concrete driveway? If you found this guide helpful, share it with one of the buttons below.