How to Repair Concrete and Asphalt Driveway Cracks
Large driveway cracks detract from the overall appearance of your home. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Ruth B. of Arlington, Texas)
Nothing can ruin the look of your asphalt or concrete driveway like a huge crack running down the middle of it, so you'll certainly want to repair any big cracks that mar the driveway and fix any smaller cracks before they turn into big ones. Many homeowners can take on this type of driveway crack repair themselves, although to ensure the job is done right you should consider hiring a professional concrete or asphalt driveway contractor.
Prep the driveway cracks
Before you start fixing a driveway crack, you have to prepare the area of concrete or asphalt you plan to repair. You don't want to make the crack any deeper, but you do want to clean up the edges so you can be sure that you fill in the crack completely.
Start by using a chisel to remove any jagged pieces at the edge of the crack so you create as smooth a line as possible from one end of the crack to the other. Then take a brush to the crack to remove all the large pieces of debris. Finally, use compressed air to force out the remaining fine particles, leaving a completely clean crack.
Concrete driveway crack repair
For small cracks (smaller than a half-inch wide) in concrete driveways, concrete sealer or crack filler is your best option. Lightly wet the crack and apply the sealer to the area. Completely fill the crack, then use a trowel to ensure that there aren't any missed spots and that the concrete surface is completely level.
Larger concrete cracks will require that you mix up some concrete or pourable grout. Pour the mixture over the crack and use a trowel to remove the excess and smooth out the area. Once the concrete dries, you'll also have to apply a resurfacer to get the driveway looking uniform again. Consider hiring a highly rated concrete contractor if the crack repair job seems too big or to get help resurfacing.
Asphalt driveway crack repair
Experts say regular seal coating may slow down the need for asphalt driveway repair.
Repairing small asphalt cracks is much like repairing small cracks in concrete, except you'll use an asphalt-based crack filler. Be sure that the asphalt area is completely dry before you begin, then just fill in the crack using a caulking gun and even out the area using a trowel.
For larger asphalt repairs, first fill in the crack with crushed gravel until the crack is only two inches deep. Then pour in cold patch asphalt repair compound. Use a metal tamper to even out the area then apply more compound if needed, and repeat until you've completely filled in the crack.
Get help from a driveway contractor
Driveway cracks are often caused by water that gets in and under the driveway material, where the freeze-thaw cycle exerts tremendous pressure on the driveway. However, there are other reasons for the formation of cracks, like poor driveway installation, too large a load driving on it, growing tree roots and impact from dropped objects.
Besides knowing how to get your driveway looking like new again, a professional driveway contractor should also be able to determine what caused the cracks in the first place and how to prevent them from returning. Check Angie's List for highly rated asphalt or concrete service providers in your area. Repairing cracks may seem like the perfect do-it-yourself job, but without professional help you may have to do it yourself all over again every year.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on March 5, 2013.