How to extend the life of your asphalt or concrete driveway

Concrete driveways are frequently twice as expensive as asphalt driveways, but they can last up to 30 years without showing major wear. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Ernest C. of Chicago)

Concrete driveways are frequently twice as expensive as asphalt driveways, but they can last up to 30 years without showing major wear. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Ernest C. of Chicago)

Your driveway takes a beating.

Whether it’s a two-ton car driving over it multiple times a day, the hot sun beating down, salt deteriorating the surface in the winter or water seeping into cracks causing the cement to freeze and crack, it’s important to fight back and give your driveway some relief from that pain.

Regular maintenance on your driveway every two to three years can prevent staining and cracks, while significantly extending its life. A well-maintained driveway enhances your home’s curb appeal and can increase its resale value.

“There’s nothing you can do to stop cracking,” said Tyler Stephens, owner of Indianapolis-based Stephens Sealing LLC. “It’s going to crack because of Mother Nature. Tree roots can grow under the driveway and raise it up, and you’re going to get water in there. You want to keep as much moisture out as you can.”

Reapplying sealant to your driveway is the most important preventative measure you can take because it stops water, ice, car fluids, salt and other chemicals from staining and breaking it down.

Sealants can be added to concrete, asphalt and brick driveways. Concrete is more expensive, but lasts 30 years. Asphalt is typically half the price and lasts for about 20 years.

For asphalt driveways, which can wear down quicker than brick and concrete, Stephens said his company can replace entire sections of the driveway without replacing the whole thing. Stephens said hot rubber is poured to fix cracks and holes before it gets sealed with a new blacktop. Concrete driveways, meanwhile, will break down based on the weather and the amount of vehicle traffic.

“For concrete driveways, we pressure wash it first,” Stephens said. “It removes the dirt and the stains. Then we fix the cracks and sealcoat it. For stone driveways, we use a high-gloss sealer, which is an oil-based product. It brings out the color and holds everything in. It keeps water from seeping through.”

Bob Showecker, owner of Indianapolis-based Showecker Masonry, said there are several types of sealcoats. The more expensive sealants, he said, typically last longer.

For brick or paver block driveways, Showecker said it’s important to perform general maintenance on them because sand can come up through the cracks and lead to grass growing in between the stones.

“If you put a plastic coating down, the grass won’t grow,” he said. “If you get a crack in the brick, we can just grab that brick with a screwdriver and drop a new one in. There’s usually less maintenance involved with brick driveways.”

Individual bricks which may have cracked can also be easily replaced to keep your driveway looking new.

Fixing minor problems like stains, as well as sealcoating the pavement, can cost between $200 and $300. Replacing a section of the asphalt driveway, for example, can cost several hundred dollars more, but that is still far cheaper than spending thousands on a new driveway. What kind of surface does this refer to?

If having maintenance work done on your driveway, make sure that the contractor is insured.  Ask for photos or references of previous work done and make sure you get a written estimate. 

“Look out for the fly-by-night companies,” Stephens said. “They’re out there trying to scam people. Look for a company that is it for the long haul.”

Editor's note: This article orignally published in August 2013.

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