My concrete driveway is starting to have some damage. Are there ways of restoring it without completely replacing the whole thing? I was thinking I might be able to add a penetrating sealer. Can I add one even though my driveway is damaged? Would this even be beneficial?
Nancee C. ~ San Diego, CA
Hi Nancee. Many concrete driveways can be restored to "like-new" conditions as long as the damage isn't too bad and even then you can get pretty close. If you have driveway cracks, the type of repair used can depend on what is causing the cracking. Most concrete driveways are poured with expansion joints so that as the concrete moves with changing temperatures, any cracking that takes place should happen at the joint. If your driveway doesn't have these joints, you may be getting some hairline cracks in various locations and it may even be happening even if you do have the joints.
There are a number of concrete driveway repair products on the market that work great for filling these types of cracks. It's important to repair them as soon as possible as water getting inside might cause further damage. You shouldn't be having a problem with the driveway moving due to freezing and thawing, but if the ground beneath the drive wasn't compacted thoroughly before the concrete was poured, there may be some shifting going on that's contributing to the driveway cracks. If this is the case, the cracks should be filled with a flexible material as the shifting may continue.
There are many different types of driveway crack filler and it's important to follow the manufacturers' recommendations when using them. In many cases you will need a concrete grinder during the process, so you might want to consider hiring a concrete contractor to do the entire project.
A sealer isn't going to do much to disguise the damage already done to your concrete driveway, but it might help prevent any future stains. If you have a lot of staining already on the surface and enough cracks that when filled, the driveway appears to be a large patch job, you might want to consider applying one of the many concrete coating products available. However, check the warranties offered on the products and how long they are supposed to last as that can vary quite a bit.