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