10 Ways to Help Your Driveway Look Good and Last Longer
Regular driveway maintenance prevents difficult and costly issues, so make prevention a priority this spring and all year long! Your driveway’s lifespan will depend on routine maintenance and the care you take to protect it.
During Warm Weather
1. Manage water flow.
Protect your drive by creating a 3-inch “runoff” strip on both sides. This will give water a way to escape, rather than collecting and slowly sinking into the surface. Also, be sure to adjust your downspouts so they empty into the yard rather than onto your driveway.
When water seeps into your driveway, it can freeze and expand, causing cracks. Once they appear, cracks never shrink—they only grow. Prevention is the name of the game.
2. Seal it.
Seal your concrete or asphalt drive each year to help prevent problems before they begin. Sealing products can fill tiny cracks before they grow. These products are also helpful in preventing stains.
3. Patch and repair.
As soon as you notice any hairline cracks or breaks, seal them (if they are tiny) or repair them. Gaps often show up after a freeze, but they can also appear on asphalt drives during scorching weather. That’s because the dark surface absorbs heat rather than reflecting it, causing asphalt drives to develop “soft spots” that can lead to cracking.
4. Remove stains.
Chemical and oil stains can soften asphalt surfaces and seep deep into concrete, weakening the structure of your driveway. The original non-clumping type of cat litter will absorb these liquids.
Follow up with a grease-killing dishwashing liquid and a plastic scrub brush. Avoid wire brushes since they can damage the surface.
5. Tame the trees.
Roots, particularly tree roots, can grow under your driveway and destroy the foundation. If you don’t want to remove trees near your drive, a tree-root barrier along the sides will help prevent this problem.
When There’s Snow and Ice
6. Shovel, don’t salt.
Salt and ice-melting chemicals can damage your driveway’s surface. Rock salt will attract more water once it seeps in, complicating the problems inherent in the freezing and thawing cycles that slowly break down your driveway.
7. Select the right shovel.
A plastic snow shovel will help protect your driveway, whereas metal shovels can catch on uneven areas and scratch the surface. Scratches and scrapes are an invitation for water to seep in!
8. Plow with caution.
Whether you own a snowplow or hire a service, know that snowplow blades with a polyurethane or rubber edge will inflict less damage than bare metal. Aim to set the blade high enough that it won’t scrape the surface and avoid dragging the blade over the edges of your driveway, which are especially vulnerable to damage.
9. Stay centered.
Park your car in the center of the drive. If you run too close to the edge or drive off into the yard, the driveway edges might crack or break.
10. Ban heavy equipment.
Driveway foundations and surfaces are built for cars and light-duty trucks. Steer clear of allowing large trucks (like a moving truck), industrial vehicles, and construction equipment to use your drive.