How to repair a concrete driveway

Many concrete driveway repairs can actually be done by a handy homeowner… perhaps you are one of them – let’s find out.

Ok, why repair a concrete driveway rather than replace it?

…because concrete driveway repair costs a fraction of what it would to replace it.

When it’s possible, repairing rather than replacing a concrete driveway conserves resources and eliminates the problem of disposing of the old concrete.

To be successfully repaired, the concrete has to be sound. If it is damaged due to freezing and thawing, or if it has severe cracks or is heaving (a result of freeze-thaw), resurfacing won’t be successful.

If you decide that concrete driveway repair a viable option for your driveway, you have several options, such as polymer-modified overlay, and even techniques like stenciling, engraving, or staining for cosmetic driveway rehabilitation.

The most important factor in determining how well your concrete resurfacing project will go is how well you prepare it before resurfacing.

Prep Work

Step 1: Clean the concrete.

If your driveway has oil stains, sprinkle them with cat litter (this is the cheapest we found on Amazon) and let it sit for a day or two, then sweep it up. That won’t remove the oils that are deeper down in the concrete.

To reach these stains, sprinkle dry concrete powder or spill cleanup solution (check out at Amazon)  on it and let it sit for a couple of days, and then sweep it up. Of course, you should only do this if the weather is forecast to be absolutely dry.

Once you have got rid of as much of the oil stains as much as possible, clean the driveway with a pressure washer designed for cleaning concrete. You can rent them at most equipment rental places.

Step 2: Repair the cracks.

This is the heart of concrete driveway repair.

Repair small cracks with grout that you make from Portland cement (check out at Amazon) and water. Use enough water to form a thick paste.

Moisten the area in and around the crack with water for several hours before adding the grout. This keeps the concrete from drawing water from the grout.

The old concrete should be moist, but there shouldn’t be any standing water when you apply the grout.

Apply the paste with a putty knife, forcing the grout into the crack as much as you can.

Level it off even with the old concrete.

Let the patched part dry for a couple of hours, then cover the area with plastic sheeting or plywood.

Keep it covered for several days, sprinkling the area with water once per day. This allows the grout to set properly.

Option: To add a waterproof protective barrier between your repaired concrete and the concrete overlay you will soon be applying, cover the substrate with fabric and roll-on an elastomeric coating.

Step 3: Profile the concrete so it will bond with the resurfacing coat.

While this used to mean using muriatic acid that would run-off everywhere causing potential environmental harm.

There are now gels that you can apply much more neatly and that are friendlier to the environment.

Usually blasting isn’t necessary after use of these gels.

Etching the substrate will make your primer and color adhere properly and give you the best results for your concrete driveway repair.

Driveway Repair

After prep work is completed, your concrete driveway is ready for the second part of concrete driveway repair.

First, apply a prime coat to the concrete substrate to enable a strong bond between existing concrete and the polymer concrete resurfacer.

If you chose to use an elastomeric coating, broadcast silica sand onto the prime coat for an improved bond.

Next it is time to apply surface polymer.

This is usually applied with a hopper gun, but it can be applied in other ways, such as with a push broom or some other type of applicator, depending on the type of finish you are after.

Once the surface polymer has been applied, go over the surface with a trowel to achieve a more uniform application.

Leave it to dry for at least two to four hours, but overnight is better.

Once the surface polymer is in place and dry, you can apply a concrete paint like ColorCoat, which comes in 30 different colors.

Two coats of ColorCoat are better than one, and using a third layer – of clear topcoat – is highly recommended after applying the two coats of ClearCoat.

After the topcoat is applied, let it dry for at least 72 hours before allowing heavy traffic on it. This has been a basic rehab/resurfacing procedure for concrete driveway repair.

Please note: The quality of your repair will be made or broken in your prep work.

If you are unable or unwilling to do the needed prep work, you might as well give all the money you will waste to charity and not make the repairs at all.

The repair work described here can be done by a DIY enthusiast with access to the right tools and materials.


Concrete Driveway Sealer

A concrete driveway sealer protects your concrete driveway and keeps it looking good. A driveway sealed properly with driveway sealer is a great investment because even the most ordinary concrete driveway can look extraordinary for decades. Nowadays, people also create custom concrete driveways with stain or dye that are almost like works of art.

Concrete is tough, sure. It can take just about anything the weather can dish out.

It can also stand up to human-added ingredients like de-icer.

But tough as it is, concrete can be made even stronger very easily and at a low expense. The way to do this is with a concrete driveway sealer.

The benefits of sealing your driveway include an extended lifespan for your driveway and improved appearance of decorative concrete.

The sealing process is not difficult or expensive and usually takes less than a day to complete.

To apply concrete driveway sealer, you’ll need the following:

  • Broom
  • Detergent and scrub brush
  • Silane or siloxane concrete driveway sealer
  • Hand-pump sprayer

When shopping for a concrete driveway sealer, please be sure to read the product labels and technical datasheets. Sealing is a vital process and not one to just wing it on. In some cases, you can find this information on the sealer manufacturer’s website.

On the sealer label, you should ensure that you see these properties: resistance to acids, grease, and oil.

Also look at breath-ability, waterproofing, and dust-proofing.

Non-yellowing acrylic sealers tend to have the best performance characteristics and are the most common type of driveway sealer.

These sealers are often mixed with polyurethane, epoxy, or silicones to improve their capability.

Styrene acrylic is one acrylic resin; however, it might yellow when exposed to direct sunlight.

Pure acrylic resin is typically best. It will last longer than styrene-acrylic and won’t turn yellow.

Polyurethantes, penetrating resins, and epoxies are other types of concrete driveway sealers.

These generally cost a lot more than acrylics and leave a more slippery surface.

They also don’t breathe and that is bad for concrete. Concrete driveway sealers should allow air and moisture to go in and out of the concrete.

Sealers that don’t breathe can cause fog or haze to occur between the sealer and the concrete.

Rollers and sprayers are the two top ways of applying sealers to driveways.

The sealer’s container will recommend the best tool to use with their product.

In general, water-based sealers should be applied by a roller, while solvent-based sealers are best applied with a sprayer.

Driveway Sealant Coverage

A rule of thumb for coverage is that 250 to 300 square feet can be covered per gallon of sealer.

You will have better results if you apply two thin coats but ensure there are no puddles or obvious thick areas.

After your driveway is sealed, a good soap and water cleansing is usually sufficient for maintaining the sealed surface.

You may, however, need to do another light coat of the sealer occasionally.

Depending on the sealant used and the conditions to which your concrete driveway is subject, sealer will last from one to three years.

With driveway sealers, it’s a typical “you get what you pay for” situation.

Commercial or professional-grade sealers from a concrete materials supplier will likely far outlast the low cost sealers from your local home improvement center.

Possible Finishes

You have your choice of finish with driveway sealers.

They come in many different levels of glossiness, from matte to high gloss.

A standardized gloss index from 1 to 100 is used by some manufacturers to measure gloss- 100 being the highest gloss level.

Even with the index, it is still a good idea to test out the sealer you want on an inconspicuous area of your concrete driveway.

Furthermore, solvent-based sealers will tend to darken or enhance the concrete’s color, giving it a wet look that some people prefer.

The more solids present in a sealer, the higher the level of gloss will be.

If you use penetrating sealers, however, they do not do anything to change color of the concrete.

Driveway Sealer Safety

I know that I say this repeatedly, but… safety is, of course, of paramount importance when you’re applying a sealant to your driveway.

The surface needs to be slip-resistant when the sealer dries.

While most concrete driveway sealers meet federal safety standards for slip resistance on the dry surface, that doesn’t tell you much about how slippery the surface will be when it rains.

Generally, how slippery the surface is will be determined by the texture of the concrete and the thickness of the sealer.

In general, the more shiny a surface of a standard concrete slab, the more slippery it will become when wet.

However, concrete driveways that have been stamped or broom- finished will not become as slippery when wet (isn’t that a Bon Jovi Album? –anyway)…

low gloss sealer will be less slippery than high gloss, but there is always the idea of mixing in an anti-skid additive to the sealer as it is applied.

That was a boatload of information for you on selecting and applying driveway sealers.

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