How to repair driveway cracks

Large cracks in your driveway can detract from the overall appearance of your home. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Ruth B. of Arlington, Texas)

Large cracks in your driveway can 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 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 repair themselves, although to ensure the job is done right you should price and consider hiring a professional.

Prepare the area

Before you start fixing a crack, you have to prepare the area. 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 from it. Finally, use compressed air to force out the remaining fine particles, leaving a completely clean crack.

For concrete driveways

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 surface is completely level.

Larger 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.

For asphalt driveways

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 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 cracks, 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 is completely.

Getting professional help

Cracks in driveways are often caused by water that gets into 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, growing tree roots and impact from dropped objects.

Besides knowing how to get your driveway looking like new again, a professional should also be able to determine what caused the cracks in the first place and how to prevent them from returning. 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.

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