Curb appeal is likely part of what first drew you to your home, so it makes sense to keep your property’s exterior at least as beautiful as it was then. A damaged and neglected driveway would naturally detract from the overall impression one would get upon arriving at your home. Today, we’re sharing the best ways to help your driveway look good and last longer than you might have hoped. By following the tips below, your valuable driveway will be the envy of your block in the coming years.
Regular driveway maintenance prevents difficult and costly issues, so make prevention a priority this summer and all year long! Your driveway’s lifespan will depend on routine maintenance and the care you take to protect it.
Tips for Maintenance: An Ounce of Prevention
1.) Sealing is Not Optional
New homeowners sometimes believe that sealing a driveway is an optional, cosmetic “extra.” Not so! Sealing your driveway regularly (the frequency of your sealing schedule will depend on the type of sealant you choose) is the best way to prevent stains, mold, mildew, and water from lingering on your driveway.
2.) How to Deep Clean Properly
If your driveway already has chemical or oil stains, they may soften an asphalt drive or soak deep into a concrete drive, resulting in a weakened structure. If oil is present on your driveway, use old-fashioned, non-clumping, clay-based kitty litter to sop it up.
Then, use a grease-cutting dishwashing detergent, a bit of water, and a plastic-bristled scrub brush to remove any lingering material. Wire brushes are a no-no; they can scuff and scrape up your driveway’s surface.
Battling mold or mildew? It’s time for a strong pressure washer. Mildew and mold adhere to dirt and organic material that has settled onto and inside any cracks in your concrete. High pressure will be needed to blast them away.
If you’re still seeing mildew or mold after pressure washing, move on to biological concrete cleaners. As a rule, the more acidic a cleanser is, the better it will clean your driveway. The downside is that these acidic cleansers can wreak havoc on your lawn. The trick is to choose something that strikes the right balance. Prosoco and Concrobium are both effective options that won’t destroy your lawn.
3.) Patch or Repair Cracks Without Delay
If you see cracks or breaks in your driveway, even tiny hairline cracks, seal or repair them as soon as you can. Inspect your driveway after a cold snap, heatwave, or heavy downpour.
If you want to outsource your driveway repairs, you should know that asphalt repair is an industry rife with scammers. If you see traveling sales teams papering your street with fliers advertising low, low rates, beware! By the time you notice how shoddy their work is, and see weeds bursting through the poorly filled cracks, this crew of workers will have moved on to another region, leaving you out your hard-earned cash.
Make sure you hire a well-known local, licensed, bonded repair service to take care of the cracks in your driveway. When the job is finished, you’ll be so glad you took the time to locate and research a highly-rated driveway restoration and repair company.
4.) Take Charge of Water Pathways
Protect your driveway from heavy rainfall by maintaining 3” runoff drains on either side. Check the downspouts near your driveway, and make sure they are facing in the opposite direction; as much as possible, you want to direct water away from your driveway (and your home’s foundation.)
During the cold winter nights, water that has soaked into the driveway throughout the day will freeze and expand, leading to the formation of cracks. Once a crack has developed, it won’t shrink when the weather warms up. In fact, this new crack leaves your driveway open to further water intrusion, meaning even bigger cracks during the next cold snap.
When water infiltrates all the way down into the soil that supports your driveway, it will fill all available space it can find. In the event that this substrate was poorly compacted when your driveway was installed, the water will soon be the material that is bearing the initial load of your driveway and your vehicles.
The result is a pumping action that will cause the driveway and underlying material to flex, creating cracks—even in asphalt, which does have some flexibility.
5.) Center Yourself
Whenever possible, park toward the center of your driveway. If you consistently park your vehicle near the edge, the lopsided pressure may cause large cracks to form over time.
6.) Consider Tree Growth
Tree roots can extend beneath your driveway, undermining the substrate support. If you want to keep large trees anywhere close to your driveway, we suggest installing a tree root barrier between the tree and your driveway.
Additionally, ensuring your trees are consistently watered can help discourage them from growing long roots in search of the water that flows through your home’s pipes.
7.) Safely Scrape Ice and Snow
Middle Tennessee isn’t known for heavy snow or thick ice, but you should have a plastic ice scraper on-hand just in case. Avoid using metal implements on your driveway; they’ll leave scratches and scuffs that will compromise your driveway’s seal and surface.
Tips for New Driveways: A Pound of Cure
1.) Shop Locally-Owned Only
If you need a new driveway installed, it’s again time to locate a local, licensed, and bonded company with plentiful positive Google reviews.
2.) Soil Preparation is Key
If your reputable installer recommends steps to prepare the soil beneath the driveway with a heavy-duty compacter, you should definitely spring for the added cost. Without a solid supporting layer, no amount of skill and experience will prevent your new driveway from falling apart.
3.) Cracks Do Not Mean Your Driveway Was Botched
This idea brings us to our final tip. If your driveway is several years old and it has cracks, it does not necessarily indicate a botched job. All driveways require maintenance. These types of structures simply do not last indefinitely.
Allow your craftsperson to do the best they can by accepting the budget they quote you for the best possible outcome. Afterward, follow our previous recommendations for maintenance. Naturally, some level of wear and tear is inevitable, but with a dedication to regular upkeep, your driveway can continue to look good for many years to come.