Why You Shouldn’t Simply Repair a Concrete Driveway

Concrete is everywhere and for good reason – it’s strong, lasts for decades, and is affordable for most homeowners. These reasons make it one of the most popular materials for residential driveways in the country. Concrete driveways can last anywhere from a decade to fifty years but like any other building material – concrete won’t last forever.

The elements, tree roots, and other issues can wear down your driveway over time and cause issues like cracks, sinking, and puddling water. When most homeowners see concrete issues their first thought is to schedule a repair but that’s not always your best option let’s learn why you shouldn’t simply repair a concrete driveway and when replacement is a better option.

Why You Shouldn’t Simply Repair a Concrete Driveway

Concrete replacement costs more than concrete repair but there are many situations when your overall cost is diminished by choosing replacement – let’s learn why.

4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Simply Repair a Concrete Driveway

  • The Repair Cycle – Both old and new driveways need occasional repairs, but owners of older driveways need to be careful they don’t find themselves in a cycle of repairs. A repair is more cost effective on the surface but if that repair is only going to hold for a year or two before needing another patch – what’s the point? You can pay a few hundred dollars for individual repairs one at a time or you can replace the entire driveway once for a few thousand dollars.

  • Easier for Homeowners – It can be a headache to hire and schedule for replacements every six months even when you’re using a reliable company. By choosing replacement you’ll be done and won’t have to worry about your driveway for years.

  • Increase Home Value – A driveway filled with patchwork repairs and small replaced sections can hurt your home value, but a new driveway can increase it by several thousand dollars. If you’re thinking of moving and need to beef up your value, a concrete replacement will do much better than repair.

  • Easier to Schedule and Hire – It’s safe to admit that concrete contractors are like most contractors and prefer large jobs over big jobs. During the paving season a contractor is much more likely to put a full replacement front and center and let repairs hang on the back burner until it’s convenient. Some less than savory concrete professionals might tell you to hit the road for repairs altogether.

If you’re on the fence above repair over replacement, know that a concrete repair will likely be more difficult to hire and schedule for than a larger job.

Signs You Need Concrete Driveway Replacement vs Repair

  • Large Cracks – Only one large crack can start a snowballing effect. Cracks allow for water to penetrate the subbase, causing further issues. Cracks that reach the concrete’s subbase and foundation are normally signs that replacement is needed.

  • Numerous Cracks – It only takes one or two large cracks to ruin a driveway, but it can also be weekend by numerous, small cracks, also known as spiderweb cracking.

  • Exposed Subbase – Before concrete is poured a suitable subbase of aggregate like gravel is laid. In an ideal pour you’ll never see the subbase again until your concrete is being replaced. If your concrete is worn enough that you can see the subbase layer of gravel than the concrete has likely reached the end of its serviceable life.

  • Dull Color – Concrete doesn’t shine like asphalt but it’s easy to tell the difference between stable, brightly colored concrete and dull, chippy concrete. Color on newer driveways can be revamped with a concrete seal but if you can’t get the vibrant color of your driveway back despite sealing, you’re probably ready for replacement.

  • Sunken Concrete – Moisture trapped in your driveway’s subbase can cause areas to expand or contract, leading to sunken slabs. In some cases, you’ll be able to jack the slab back into place but continually sinking concrete over multiple areas of the driveway or erosion of the subbase means it’s ready for replacement.

  • Numerous Potholes – Repairing small pockmarks or chips can be taken care of by homeowners in many cases but several potholes or divots are a sign of a quickly deteriorating driveway.

  • Overall Bad Job – Not all concrete is poured equally, especially if your home was part of a builder series. Shoddy workmanship, uneven curing, bad mixes, and more can turn the serviceable life from concrete from a few decades to a few years. If your newer driveway is experiencing issues, it’s best to contact a professional concrete contractor.

  • Staining – Staining isn’t fun to look at, but most concrete stains are superficial. If your entire driveway is covered with oil stains, that’s a different story.

What About Resurfacing a Driveway?

Resurfacing involves removing the previous concrete but leaving the subbase in place for the new pour. Think of it as a middle ground between repairs and full replacements. A resurfacing can take are of all cosmetic issues and most structural issues but is only a good option if your concrete’s subbase is in great shape. If you’re experiencing any of the issues listed above, your concrete’s subbase is already compromised.

When Concrete Repair is a Good Idea

  • When your driveway is fewer than 15 years old.
  • When the issue is minor and isolated.
  • When cracks are shallow.
  • When concrete still gives a bright color.

When Concrete Replacement is a Good Idea

  • When your driveway is older than 15 years.
  • When the issue is major or widespread.
  • When cracks are deep (to the subbase.)
  • When concrete is dull.

Consulting with a Professional

The best way to choose replacement or repair is by hiring a certified concrete contractor for a free inspection. A concrete contractor can take a closer look at any issues, discuss your current concrete’s life, and help you determine if a replacement or repair is the best overall solution for your driveway.

Choosing Concrete Replacement over Repair

There are many situations in which a concrete repair is more appropriate than replacement but there are also many homeowners who sink too much cost into repair when they should be replacing. Consider the different issues your driveway faces, your plans for the home’s future, and other factors and you’ll see why replacement is better than repairs.

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