How to Extend the Life of Your 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)
Your driveway takes a beating.
Whether it’s a 2-ton car driving over it multiple times a day, the hot sun beating down, salt eating away the surface in the winter, or water seeping into cracks and freezing, which causes cracks in concrete and asphalt, it’s important to fight back and give your driveway some relief from that pain. Even brick and stone driveways need regular TLC to avoid deterioration.
Regular driveway maintenance 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. Plus, it's more pleasant to drive on when you're not dodging colossal crevices or potholes.
“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.”
Sealcoating your driveway
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 down the aggregate material.
Sealants can be added to concrete, asphalt and brick driveways. Concrete driveways are more expensive to install, but last 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 tearing up 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.
Brick or paver driveway maintenance
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, which leads to grass growing in between the stones. Individual bricks that have cracked can be easily replaced to keep your driveway looking new.
“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.”
Cost of driveway maintenance
Fixing minor problems like stains, as well as sealcoating the pavement, can cost between $200 and $300. Replacing a section of the asphalt driveway can cost several hundred dollars more, but that's still far cheaper than spending thousands on a new driveway.
Hire a dependable driveway contractor
Make sure you hire a qualified driveway contractor to install your parking surface in the first place, or no amount of maintenance will save your investment. If having your driveway repaired or maintained by a professional, ensure the contractor is insured and experienced. Ask for photos or references of previous work done and be sure to 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 is an updated version of an article originally posted on Sept. 24, 2013.