While concrete is one of the most durable materials that can be used to pave your driveway, it does require regular maintenance to keep it in great shape and to extend its useful life. It is less expensive than an asphalt driveway, but is more costly than some ‘green’ alternatives, which can be very affordable paving solutions. Below are some tips on how to keep your concrete driveway in the best shape, followed by a comparison with a green alternative paving system.
Clean the Concrete Regularly
Removing debris and pollutants from the driveway can ensure that there are no harmful agents being absorbed by the concrete which might harm it. If stains or spills such as those from oil, do occur, try to soak them up quickly using kitty litter, sawdust or cornmeal.
Re-apply Sealer Periodically
The point of re-sealing is to block the pores in the concrete which would otherwise absorb moisture and salts or other harmful agents. Concrete should be re-sealed every two to five years, depending on how much traffic your driveway undergoes, and what kind of weather your region is subject to.
Avoid Use of De-icing Products
Serious damage can be done to a concrete driveway by the regular use of de-icing agents during winter time. The alternate freezing and thawing of moisture on the driveway surface also causes conditions known as spalling and scaling, which involves thin layers of concrete flaking off.
Avoid Using Metal Snow Plows
The metal blade of a snow plow can cause significant damage to a concrete driveway, as can the metal blade of a snow shovel or ice-breaker. All of these should be avoided as a means of clearing away snow and ice, because they can scrape, scratch, and chip away the surface of the driveway.
Keep Weeds and Tree Roots Away
Weeds and tree roots can actually break up concrete over time, if they can find even the tiniest crack in concrete to wedge their way in. Once that happens, the hairline crack will be expanded and the driveway may heave, which is the term used for the expansion and breaking apart of the concrete.
Re-surface If Needed
If the time comes when your driveway has simply been patched too many times, or the cracks have become too numerous, it’s time to concede and re-surface the driveway. This doesn’t have to mean ripping it out and re-installing a whole new driveway, but can simply be a replacement of the driveway’s top layer so it looks like new. It will gain curb appeal, and have much greater resistance to all the harmful agents that can attack your driveway’s concrete.
Green Paving Alternative
If you are a person who feels strongly about protecting the environment, a green alternative might be perfect for your driveway or walkway. According to TRUEGRID (www.truegridpaver.com), there are some considerable advantages to this approach, starting with its permeability and the fact that it has a drainage system as its bottom layer. This allows storm water to drain away and not damage the driveway over time.
In addition to its low cost, the lifespan of a green pavement solution can be as much as 25-60 years, and during that time span it will be virtually maintenance free. It stays cool even in hot weather, and has a very low impact on its environment, and is actually made of recycled materials so it does not consume new resources. Also on its list of impressive characteristics is the fact that it has great strength for supporting extra heavy weights from driveway vehicles.