Your driveway is often the first thing someone sees when they approach your home. You’ve invested money into it and are proud to display it to visitors. But a lack of maintenance can quickly turn that part of your home into an eyesore.
A well-maintained asphalt driveway can improve your home’s curb appeal and increase its resale value. These classic black driveways are not only functional but are also attractive to look at — especially when they are cared for correctly. Ongoing maintenance is essential if you want to keep your driveway in great shape. Without proper care, the asphalt can begin to crack or crumble in as little as fifteen years. Taking the time to maintain your driveway can help extend its usable life, eliminating the expense of having to have it repaved.
Winter can be especially cruel to your outdoor surfaces. Dealing with snow, ice, and the extreme cold can be a nightmare. Not only are you trying to maintain some aesthetic appeal in the harshest of elements, but create a safe surface for you and your family to use. Below are some tips for maintaining your driveway year-round.
1. Ditch the De-Icing Chemicals
When the temperature drops below freezing, our first thought is to run out to the store and grab some rock salt.
This melts the ice with ease, but it has a nasty side effect. The corrosive materials (calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, or potassium chloride) can damage your driveway.
When the weather heats up, you’ll notice discoloration that is unappealing.
A solution to this is to ditch the salt and use sand or kitty litter as an alternative. These do an adequate job of limiting ice on the surface and providing some traction for you and your vehicles. They also won’t damage your driveway.
2. Clean Up Spills
Oil and gas can eat through a good sealer in no time. At first sign of a stain, it’s time to get to work. The longer that stain has to set in, the harder it will be to remove. Certain types of chemicals or contaminants can cause the surface of the asphalt to deteriorate more quickly. That is why it is important to keep the surface as clean as possible. If you notice any stains on the asphalt, clean them up right away. You should also remove any dirt that finds its way onto the surface to prevent weeds from taking root.
3. Turn Water Away
Try to keep your driveway as dry as possible. Puddles of standing water can eventually lead to potholes or other problems with the surface of your driveway. Try to dry out your driveway as quickly as possible after a storm and avoid allowing puddles of water to remain on its surface. To avoid water getting into those cracks, you’ll want to steer gutters away from your driveway. When water freezes, it can damage your surface. Not to mention pose a safety hazard. Make sure your home has proper drainage that pushes water away from your driveway. A concrete edging drain, for instance, can work wonders.
4. Avoid Accumulation of Snow and Ice
Water is heavy whether it’s in the form of snow or ice. It can lead to base soil moving and shifts to your concrete slabs. To avoid this, remove snow as soon as possible from the surface.
5. Use a Plastic Snow Shovel
That steel shovel might tear through the ice, but it’s also damaging your driveway in the process. Instead, ditch the steel for a plastic shovel or one with a rubber tip at the end. But if you absolutely must use a metal shovel, check it regularly for jagged edges which can scratch the surface.
6. Better Yet, Buy a Snow Blower
If throwing out your back each Winter shoveling snow gets tiresome, a snow blower is a great investment for your home. But beware, not all snow blowers are alike. You’ll want to go with a two-stage snow blower which has blades that don’t make contact with the ground. Not only do these machines avoid damaging your driveway, but they are also powerful and will save you time.
7. Keep Heavy Equipment Away
Large trucks, construction equipment, and RVs can place unnecessary strain on your driveway. In the winter when the soil underneath the driveway is moist, this can cause shifting that can severely damage your driveway long term.
With a little preparation and some modest effort, making it through the winter doesn’t have to be a disaster in waiting for your driveway. With these tips, you’ll make it to Spring without a scratch.
8. Seal Those Cracks in Your Driveway
Seal coating asphalt can help it last a lot longer. This special protective coating minimizes the effects of the elements on the surface of the asphalt, helping to extend its life. The driveway should be seal coated immediately after being paved. As a part of ongoing maintenance, a new layer of seal coat should be applied periodically to help provide protection. Most experts recommend recoating the surface every three to five years, depending on how the asphalt ages. The process of seal coating helps minimize the effect of changing temperatures and severe weather by reinforcing the driveway and keeping the asphalt from breaking apart.
Water will always find its way through cracks. And when that water freezes, it can be damaging. The expansion leads to larger cracks, chips, and even breaks. To prevent this from happening, it’s a good idea to seal any noticeable cracks in the fall. Not all cracks can be seen by the naked eye, which is why it can be a good idea to hire a professional for the job.
Want to ensure your driveway lasts for years to come? Follow all the above tips, and ensure that if cracks do begin to show, get it sealed.
9. Make Frequent Repairs
Any time you notice a crack or indentation in your driveway, you should fix it right away. Dealing with problems early on helps keep the cost of repairs down. Driveways that are located in climates that have cold winters are particularly prone to damage. When water finds its way into the cracks and freezes, it expands, forcing the cracks further apart. By sealing cracks immediately, you can prevent water from getting in, minimizing the amount of damage that occurs.
If you don’t have time to maintain your driveway yourself, you can always hire a contractor who specializes in paving to do it for you. Setting up an ongoing maintenance plan is fast, easy, and affordable. Best of all, it can help prolong the life of your driveway.
It is well worth investing a little bit of money into driveway maintenance. The money that you spend now can help keep you from having to deal with expensive repairs later. Staying on top of regular maintenance can go a long way toward protecting your investment.