Your concrete driveway has some damage but it is not in your budget to install a brand new one. Is it possible to repair a concrete driveway?
The answer depends on the type and severity of damage your driveway has. Not to worry! I have seen it all and I have listed the most common damage types, how to fix it, and what to expect after repair.
Concrete driveways can take a real beating from all sorts of factors. Salt is a huge killer for concrete. It creates a chemical reaction and slowly eats away at the cement and then causes pitting to occur.
A soft base can destroy concrete as well. Think about it, if you were to build your house on sand, sooner than later your house is going to sink and start splitting and fall apart. Same is true for a concrete driveway. Your car weighs thousands of pounds and is slowly pushing your driveway into the Earth, with a soft base, your concrete will split and separate easily.
You’re here because your driveway is already damaged and you need a way to fix it, so that’s what we’re going to cover.
Below are the 7 most common types of damage to concrete and how to fix it.
Oil Stains (FIXABLE: most of the time)
Motor oil and transmission fluid are the most common types of oil stains left on a concrete driveway. When these oils drip from your cars, lawnmowers, and whatever machinery you leave on your driveway, they seep into the pores of the concrete and embed themselves deep in the grains.
The best fix I have found to remove oil stains is using degreaser. You can find a degreaser at a local home improvement store, a construction supply store, and of course online. The degreaser eats away at the oils in your driveway hopefully leaving you with a cleaner surface than before.
Apart of the degreasing process is cleaning and protecting your driveway with a thorough power wash and seal. I highly recommend power washing your driveway every 3 or 4 years to keep any dirt, oils, or salt off the surface.
Power washing is not only great for keeping the aesthetics of your driveway, it also tremendously helps with the longevity of the driveway. Don’t forget to apply a penetrating sealer for more protection. I suggest SaltGuard to protect from salt as always.
Hairline Fractures (FIXABLE: stop from spreading or getting worse)
Some people call these fractures “cracks” and technically they are, however, a hairline fracture is nothing to worry about or need to replace. As long as there was a solid stone base, rebar reinforcement, and a minimum of 4 inches of concrete, hairline fractures happen and it’s annoying at worst.
With that said, if it is still bothering you and you would like an alternative, I have a solution for you, you just might not like the way it looks.
You will need an angle grinder, self leveler and/or caulk. Take the grinder and grind inside the hairline fracture making the fracture bigger and deeper. After you grind the fracture, clean out any dust and residue.
After the fracture is cleaned, fill in with concrete patch or self leveler. The fracture will now look like a patch instead of a hairline fracture, but now it’s fixed.
Cracks (FIXABLE: within a small budget)
Ok cracks happen as well and can happen from a variety of reasons. Sometimes they are big enough where it’s a trip hazard, I call that “splitting” which I’ll cover next. And sometimes a crack is small but way bigger than a hairline fracture.
You can use the same process as a hairline fracture to fix a crack however most cracks I can think of need to be removed and replaced. In my experience, removing a clean square around the crack and reinforcing the new concrete not only looks the best but is the strongest way to fix a crack.
By removing and replacing you are removing the crack so it stops spreading, adding more rebar for stronger reinforcement, and keeping the joints straight and clean making it the most aesthetically pleasing fix.
Splitting (SLIGHTLY FIXABLE)
You will know splitting when you see it. The split usually occurs on a control joint but can 100% happen in the middle of the slab. You’ll be looking at a 2 inch gaps minimum, most of the time there is an elevation change causing a true trip hazard.
Splitting must be fixed fast and needs to be done properly. There are 2 true ways to fixing splitting in concrete.
The first is called mud jacking and is a short term, temporary fix for splitting. It is the less expensive option and not as aesthetically pleasing but 100% works when done properly. Mud jacking is when you drill multiple holes in the slab and pump mud under the slab of concrete, lifting it to the correct elevation. You are leveling the concrete from underneath.
I would leave the mud jacking to the professionals.
The second option is to remove and replace the compromised squares. This is your slightly more expensive, stronger, more long term solution to your splitting problem. Determine where the least amount of concrete needs to be replaced and remove, reinforce, and replace with new concrete.
PRO TIP: keep the square you replace as close to a square as possible. If you must cut out a rectangle, saw-cut a control joint to make two squares to avoid future cracks and splitting.
small pitting (MANAGEABLE)
Small pitting is very common and is at worst annoying to look at. However, if not managed properly the pitting can spread throughout the surface of your concrete driveway.
The proper way to manage small pitting is to clean with a power washer and seal with a strong penetrating sealer. Keep and eye on the infected area, if the pitting continues to spread, cut a square around it, remove the infected area, and replace with new concrete.
Full surface pitting (TEMPORARY FIX. MOSTLY NEED TO REPLACE)
So the pitting has spread throughout your entire concrete driveway and it’s really a pain to deal with and look at.
The first fix I recommend is very temporary but can be an extremely viable solution for your needs. Clean and resurface your entire driveway. In order to get a nice finish it is important not to just fill the pits with resurfaced, but to have a nice layer across the entire surface of concrete.
The second option is recommend if your driveway has pitted so much that it is almost down to rubble and basically beyond repair. At this time you will need to completely remove and replace your driveway. Make sure you hire a reputable contractor who will give you a strong base, reinforced concrete, and a beautiful finish.
Chipped Corners (FIXABLE)
Chipped corners on concrete happens when the corner is too tight and the concrete cracks from pressure, you drive over the edge consistently over time with a poor base, or something is dropped on it and it cracks off.
The corners of concrete break the easiest because there is less holding it together and has more room to move.
If the corner is broken off completely, it’s a very easy fix to just remove and replace with a bag of concrete.
If the corner is chipped, clean the exposed area and use concrete patch to fix the affected area.
If you need a step by step on how to compete each of these I will be adding posts for each fix as well as hopefully getting a nice video out to you so you can visually see how to complete these fixes.