driveway repair

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nannid
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Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 7:44 am

driveway repair

Post by nannid »

Hi -

I bought my first house recently and the driveway has many cracks in it. They seem significant to me and a small part of it is sort of crumbling on the surface .I do not have any experience with contractors since I always rented. It is a 27 year old house and I live in a cold climate ( Metro Detroit area, MI )

I am planning to call 3-4 companies- one of which was recommended by someone. Apparently one company I spoke to just does replacing and no repair.

I am concerned about being ripped off - not knowing anything about concrete . At what point would you consider replacing vs repairing? I plan to be in this home about 8-10 years - not more.
Can anyone recommend any specific questions I need to ask ?
I am not comfortable and cannot do any heavy duty DIY - hence the contractor route and would like the results to be decent looking.
I really think my driveway looks the worst in my neighbourhood . Houses around here are pretty well-kept.

Thanks for reading


I can attach a couple of pics if needed.
Yooper
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Re: driveway repair

Post by Yooper »

I'd ask the neighbors who they've used. At least you'd have an idea of what to expect the work to look like once it's done, and for sure you'd know who to avoid. Disgruntled customers are usually ready to tell you exactly what they experienced and who NOT to use.
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Sandtrap
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Re: driveway repair

Post by Sandtrap »

Once concrete is cracked through and through then it will continue to crack and flex to some degree as the ground beneath it settles. Water freeze/thaw cycles make it worse. Patching or caulking the gaps may work for awhile as long as the ground below is stable, but water and freeze thaw will continue. Permanent solution is to remove and replace with adequate reinforcement and base or pour over a new slab over 4" with mesh and "fibercrete". Clean well and brush with bonding agent then patch with "quickcrete" mix from Home Depot may work and be acceptable and an in inexpensive DIY remedy depending on the existing damage and cracks, your skills, and how nice you want it to be. Since you are selling then maybe keep the costs down this way. YMMV
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adamthesmythe
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Re: driveway repair

Post by adamthesmythe »

Good concrete (placed by good concrete contractors) is expensive. Probably more expensive than you imagine. When I lived in the northeast there were a countable number of good contractors for residential work. You could find out who they were by walking the neighborhood and looking for the brass plaques or stamps embedded in the driveways. As you can imagine, these guys are not worried about a bad reputation because of a spalling or cracking driveway. Their stuff lasts (many decades, some of the stamps have dates).

What I would do depends on your situation. If the concrete is spalling it will continue to get worse and I do not believe you can make a surface repair that lasts. If you have cracking in some places then you can remove a slab or two and replace. Matching will not be perfect.

I would consider if you really need to fix your driveway. You may be able to let it go for a while (maybe a long while). Maybe after you get estimates you will find it easy to decide.
likegarden
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Re: driveway repair

Post by likegarden »

In case you decide to have the concrete replaced, you should consider black top. I live in a similarly cold climate in upstate NY, and all houses in my suburb type town have blacktop driveways. For blacktop a driveway should not have less than 4 inch gravel base and 4 inch thick blacktop to prevent cracking for many years.
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Kenkat
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Re: driveway repair

Post by Kenkat »

Yes, the surface crumbling is usually spalling, caused by water penetrating porosity in the concrete. Cracks will continue to get worse as water penetrates the cracks and freezes / thaws as pointed out above. I'd avoid using salt on it in the winter or use a concrete safe ice melt and use it sparingly.

My guess is that repairs will be temporary only and you are going to probably need to replace sometime before you sell.

Concrete is expensive and it's hard to find good concrete and concrete contractors.
Nicolas
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Re: driveway repair

Post by Nicolas »

likegarden wrote:In case you decide to have the concrete replaced, you should consider black top. I live in a similarly cold climate in upstate NY, and all houses in my suburb type town have blacktop driveways. For blacktop a driveway should not have less than 4 inch gravel base and 4 inch thick blacktop to prevent cracking for many years.
I like blacktop for two main advantages over concrete: It's much cheaper and in a cold climate the snow and ice melts much faster due to solar radiation, assuming the driveway has solar exposure, mine does. On the other hand there is more upkeep. It needs to be resealed and cracks filled periodically.
Topic Author
nannid
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Re: driveway repair

Post by nannid »

Thanks all for your advice.
I am waiting to hear back from some people on quotes . It does seem to be hard to get people - some of them don't appear to even call back.
And some of them have a minimum job requirement - like $5-6K etc !

I am not sure if I can do blacktop since there is an HOA involved ..I can try asking. No-one in this sub-division has it.

Now , ideally, how long should I expect a concrete driveway to last? Is there any maintenance I should be doing ?

I have seen some neighbors caulk the spaces between the expansion joints . I do not plan on using any salt or damaging de-icers.
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Sandtrap
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Re: driveway repair

Post by Sandtrap »

nannid wrote:Thanks all for your advice.
I am waiting to hear back from some people on quotes . It does seem to be hard to get people - some of them don't appear to even call back.
And some of them have a minimum job requirement - like $5-6K etc !

I am not sure if I can do blacktop since there is an HOA involved ..I can try asking. No-one in this sub-division has it.

Now , ideally, how long should I expect a concrete driveway to last? Is there any maintenance I should be doing ?

I have seen some neighbors caulk the spaces between the expansion joints . I do not plan on using any salt or damaging de-icers.
Silkaflex or other elastomeric caulking between the expansion joints prevents water from filling it, working its way down, then freezing.
Many neighbors have been there for a long time, battling the same problems and finding economical and workable solutions. Good idea to ask around.
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spitty
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Re: driveway repair

Post by spitty »

I've used Quickcrete patch, both the pre=mixed type from a squeeze bottle (expensive!) and the "powder" you mix with water. Within two years each filled section cracked and weeds flourished once again. So it was a fair amount of work for a short-term result. I've seen some cracks filled with a rubberized type of compound that seems to be a better fix, but don't know what it is. Our Lowes doesn't have anything similar.
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Sandtrap
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Re: driveway repair

Post by Sandtrap »

spitty wrote:I've used Quickcrete patch, both the pre=mixed type from a squeeze bottle (expensive!) and the "powder" you mix with water. Within two years each filled section cracked and weeds flourished once again. So it was a fair amount of work for a short-term result. I've seen some cracks filled with a rubberized type of compound that seems to be a better fix, but don't know what it is. Our Lowes doesn't have anything similar.
There are Elastomeric and other compounds for cracks and expansion joints that are made for concrete. Some are 2 part mixes that can be poured into joints. They are available at construction supply houses. Compounds and caulking that are not specifically made for concrete do not work for long. Quickcrete patch and other cementous and regular cement products will bond better with "admix bonding solution added" and/or painted in a cleaned cement surface lst. Most of them look like white Elmers Glue in a gallon bottle. Hope this helps. There are other methods, too.
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lthenderson
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Re: driveway repair

Post by lthenderson »

I've done a lot of concrete work over the years and here is some of my thoughts.

Concrete really isn't fixable, especially in driveways that are moving around and causing the cracking. To "fix" it, you really need to replace it.

To make a concrete drive last, 90% of the effort needs to go into preparing a proper base for the concrete. The other 10% is slapping up a few forms, reinforcement and pouring. If I were hiring it done, my questions would all center around how they are going to prepare the base. You always want to remove disturbed soil and replace with packing materials like sand and certain gravels. Depending on where you live, there are certain criteria that need to be met to prepare a proper base for the driveway. If properly done, concrete will last your lifetime and then some. Asphalt, depending on location and conditions, generally gets only 10 to 20 years.

Concrete is really good in compression and not so good in shear which is how it is used in horizontal driveway applications. It will crack. That is why two things are generally done. One is that joints are cut in the concrete to control where the cracking occurs to that it isn't noticeable. Two is that it is reinforced so that should it crack, the sides of the crack don't heave in opposite directions creating a tripping hazard. If you get the driveway repoured, make sure it has plenty of "rerod" put in it and not just "chicken wire". Also inquire about what psi their mix is and if it is proper for the weight of your vehicles driving on it. I always use 4000 psi for a residential driveway.
Hockey10
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Re: driveway repair

Post by Hockey10 »

I use Angie's List to find good contractors. I always go with one of the highest rated contractors within 10 miles of home. My experience has been that contractors that have a lot of 'A' ratings in the past 6 months end up doing a good job. They might be more expensive than the ones with lower ratings, but, you get what you pay for.
adamthesmythe
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Re: driveway repair

Post by adamthesmythe »

> It does seem to be hard to get people - some of them don't appear to even call back.

Maybe you haven't done much repair work. This is extremely common with contractors. These are small businesses in some cases without real offices.

> And some of them have a minimum job requirement - like $5-6K etc !

Unless you have a rather small driveway- you will have no problem hitting the minimum. It's worth looking at your sidewalks, etc. before finalizing the job description.

> Now , ideally, how long should I expect a concrete driveway to last?

Long enough that it doesn't matter. Many decades if properly installed. Concrete continues to harden for many years after installation so if it survives the first winter it should last essentially forever.

By the way- think about whether there are any utility lines under the driveway, might be advisable to service any questionable lines first.

> Is there any maintenance I should be doing ?

My contractor did a "sealant" some time after installation. Other than that I have done nothing.

> I have seen some neighbors caulk the spaces between the expansion joints .

I think this is cosmetic only.

> I do not plan on using any salt or damaging de-icers.

Salt is one thing that can damage concrete, although sodium from the aggregate is a more serious problem. I would minimize use of salt for the first year.
neilpilot
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Re: driveway repair

Post by neilpilot »

adamthesmythe wrote: By the way- think about whether there are any utility lines under the driveway, might be advisable to service any questionable lines first.
Good point. The reverse is also true....if you think you might want to add a service such as sprinklers or an invisible fence, consider running the appropriate pipe/conduit/wire during the driveway install. The new line(s) can be left capped & dormant waiting for the future project to materialize.

It would be a shame to want to run a line under the new driveway later, even though I know there are tunneling methods that allow this to be done.
Topic Author
nannid
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Re: driveway repair

Post by nannid »

I would just like to thank each of you for your valuable advice . I amd very grateful and feel quite empowered !
The knowledge people have and their willingness to share it on this board continually amazes me.
Topic Author
nannid
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Re: driveway repair

Post by nannid »

Hi again, I am back after getting some contractors to come out and look at it . Narrowed it down to 3 out of 5 .
I am leaning towards getting it done because it looks like it is just going to get worse .

I am hoping someone will be kind enough to answer the last of my questions .

1. Two of them offered me a "sealer" option for an extra $400-$500 more. These 2 were the closest in price ( diff of $150). Their quotes listed more or less the same things - 4000psi( thanks " lthenderson ") , gravel , re-bar , expansion "stuff" ,clean up etc .

Question - I always thought asphalt needed to be sealed ..is a concrete sealer really worth it? I did some reading about water based or urethane based etc ..not sure which one they meant.

2. The third one was more expensive ( $450 more ) but he suggested removing some of the walkway bordering the driveway which is actually in good condition - but since the slabs are narrow in size - he thinks it may get a bit damaged while removing the bigger driveway slabs. He was mentioning Bobcat etc . This one was recommended by a neighbour .

Question - I am attaching a pic - the narrow strip is the walkway ..I really don't know what to make of this idea. I mean, if I decide not to replace the walkway and they damage this while removing the driveway - should they not fix for free?
None of the others suggested this at all ..so I feel like he just wants to do it to make more money. Any input will be appreciated.
Image

Thank you again. I have never had any major repair work done since I have always rented ..so just want to make sure I am covering all bases.
tacster
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Re: driveway repair

Post by tacster »

I've been involved with engineering some fairly significant industrial concrete jobs - slabs several feet thick, massively reinforced, designed to carry extremely heavy loads. Concrete sealer was never discussed nor considered for those projects. It's hard for me to believe sealer would provide much benefit for a homeowner's concrete driveway. Personally I'd pass, unless you want it just on the chance it does some good and the extra money means nothing.

Yes, if a contractor damages something he should be expected to make it right for no charge. I agree with your instinct that he's probably just looking for extra money.
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lthenderson
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Re: driveway repair

Post by lthenderson »

I would also forego the sealer as well on an exterior concrete pad. I don't know what the benefit would be other than something else to maintain. I've seen it used it garages and stuff mainly as a way to prevent staining from dripping car oil, etc.

Personally, I would probably replace the sidewalk so that it is all one uniform piece of concrete. Concrete can stick (depending on how it was poured and in what order) to adjacent slabs of concrete and breaking the sidewalk while removing the old driveway would seem like a good possibility. Also, if they removed it and new concrete was poured up against it without anything tying the sidewalk to the driveway, if one moves, it could create a tripping hazard or cause chunks of either side to chip off. Aesthetically, I think it would look better as one slab with regular joints cut in it after pouring but that is just my opinion.
ReadyOrNot
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Re: driveway repair

Post by ReadyOrNot »

You really should talk to your neighbors and homeowner's association. If they have some say over what you can do to your driveway, some of them must have had similar, maybe not as bad, damage and had to do something about it. What did they do? What experience did they have with contractors, good or bad? How much did they pay? They must have some idea. Fellow homeowners are usually glad to talk about house issues they may have in common with their neighbors.
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