Concrete driveways are heralded as being maintenance-free, but it’s still worth taking a look over them once in a while. Dirt build up will eventually allow moss, then weeds, to get a foothold. Over time, concrete driveways can crack and the edges can crumble if vehicles drive over the edges too often.
Most people take concrete for granted, but it’s actually a highly intricate and sophisticated material. It is made of various components such as cement, water, sand and gravel that are mixed together in just the right proportions to form a hard, durable substance that can be shaped into nearly any form imaginable. There is a lot you should know about concrete before working with it or even having something concrete near your home.
Take a Look at the Big Picture
We covered Patching Holes in another article in this section, so here we’ll be talking about cleaning the driveway and repairing damage to the edges. We will also be discussing the repair of the concrete itself, rather than covering it over with a different surface, like Tarmac or a Block-Paved Driveway.
You must assess the damage and the cause of the damage, before deciding how to treat it. For example, if the driveway edge is cracked because of a nearby tree root, then patching the concrete and doing nothing about the tree root will be a complete waste of time.
Maintenance and Cleaning of Concrete Driveways
Cleaning concrete is usually a case of washing it down and should only need to be done a couple of times a year, if that. A power washer is perfect for the job, although a brush, a bucket of warm soapy water, and a rinse with an ordinary hose afterward, will do the job, too.
Power washing should get rid of any vegetation, like moss or small weeds, that’s got a hold on the driveway. It will also remove tyre marks. Take care with the more powerful jet washers, though. Keep the lance at a shallow angle and adjust it for a spread of water rather than a concentrated jet.
Particular stains can often be lifted with the right product (see the article Removing Stains From Concrete in this section). If you have a recent spill of oil or grease, get something very absorbent, like sawdust, on it straight away. The sawdust will absorb the bulk of the liquid and can then be swept up. Older stains can be removed with a proprietary driveway cleaner from a DIY or motoring shop.
Edging and Repairs
All driveways should really be edged and concrete is no different. If your concrete driveway isn’t edged, and they often aren’t, then they can crumble at the edges. The only way round this is to rebuild the concrete using Wooden Formwork to remake the edge.
If the concrete has small cracks, there are a number of ways to repair it. The easiest method is to buy a reputable Concrete Repair Product and follow the instructions on the tin.
You might decide your time and skills would be better employed by patching and pointing throughout the whole driveway section by section. If your concrete driveway isn’t edged then use a spirit level or straight edge to mark out along
Chip away at the broken edge to make a clean line. Slightly taper it away from the break to make it easier to blend the repair into the original driveway. Remove any dust and debris with a brush or an old vacuum cleaner, if you have one handy.
Building Formwork to Frame the Repair
If your driveway is straight, the formwork can be a simple plank along the sides. It can be secured to the side of the driveway with a couple of screws if there is enough purchase. If not, drive large wooden pegs into the ground behind it.
If the side of the driveway isn’t straight, then you have a bit more work to do. Use plywood that’s thin enough to be bent to the correct profile but stiff enough to provide a solid edge. Then peg it into place as before, probably with a lot more pegs to hold the curved profile in place.
Once the formwork is done, lay small-bore hardcore into the gap to provide a replacement foundation. Then prepare a standard concrete mix. Depending on the size of the repair this can be done in a bucket rather than a concrete mixer. Shortly before laying the new concrete in, spray or brush water on the edge around the gap. Then pour or trowel the concrete into it, just like any other concrete laying job.
Consider Proper Edging
When the repair has dried the formwork can be removed. However, if there isn’t a proper edge on the driveway, you are likely to be doing this job again in a year or two, so it is really worth putting proper foundations and edging rows in place. The easiest way to do this is to lay a concrete path or brick edging.
You need the side of the driveway cleared to make room for laying these materials and you also need some suitable fixings in place, too. Screw down wood joists at either end of the section that’s going to be filled with edging material.
Simple tips for Maintenance of your Concrete Drive
- You can repair your broken concrete drive or sidewalk with a piece of wood.
- Remove weeds and moss from the concrete when you power wash it. You do this by using a water lance that is not too powerful.
- You can remove stains from the concrete if they are fresh and use sawdust to clean them up if they are old.
- To put in an edging, use plywood that is thin enough to be bent, but stiff enough for stability. Put down small-bore hardcore before adding the new concrete mix on top of it to create new sidewalks or drives without having to repaint them again so soon.
It’s relatively easy to repair concrete drives and paths. With a little bit of thought ahead of the job for the foundations and edging, you can keep them looking good with minimal work in the future.
There are so many products on the market for driveway sealing. Special sealers and paints are available, but with a little knowledge and a few basic tools you can completely transform your driveway at a fraction of the cost.