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HOW YOU CAN FIX THAT MESSY, CRACKED, DIRTY CONCRETE DRIVEWAY

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When you first moved into your house, the driveway looked great, but over the years, it’s taken a real beating.

Heavy cars and trucks put stress on the pavement; on super-hot 100-plus days, tires seem to leave black marks behind as they roll over the concrete and into the garage; somebody’s car leaked oil on the paving and that person did not clean it up; or maybe there are cracks forming in the concrete, even though the concrete was laid in big squares instead of in one continuous slab.

So, do you have to rip up all the concrete to fix a bad situation? Here are the pros and cons of various solutions:

1 | Cleaning up the oil stains and/or black tire marks

If the stains are minor, you can probably remove them using strong detergent and a scrub brush. A heavy-duty power washer can also do the job. It might be best to try out any strong cleaner on a small area first to make sure it works and doesn’t leave an unsightly mark behind.

2 | Filling cracks

If you have a problem with cracked concrete, before doing anything else you need to find out why the cracking has occurred, according to Dave Frasca, in sales with Cohill’s Building Specialties in Phoenix. Many times, it’s because of a tree root that has grown under the driveway or the concrete was put down over an unstable base, or someone is driving a heavy truck over the driveway. It might also have happened because there is moisture building up under the concrete – possibly a bad leak. In any case, you should investigate the possibilities before repairing.

Once you’ve determined that there’s no problem under the driveway, you can put what’s called a “cementitious” coating over the crack – a coating that has the properties of cement and that is about the thickness of a credit card. You can apply it with a broom, lightly brushing the surface of cracks. Of course, the fixed areas will look slightly different from the rest of the driveway. At that point, you may want to color the driveway and seal it in order to make the whole thing look more even.

3 | Coloring and sealing the driveway

If you want to make the entire driveway look the same, you can color the concrete driveway and seal it. You can also color and seal your driveway to cover a multitude of other problems that may have cropped up here and there.

First get approval for the new color from your homeowners association (HOA) if you need it. If you want to put a colored coating on the driveway, use a light color, Cohill’s suggests. It’s also best to put the sealer on in two light coats because it’s going to have a sheen. The first coat will cover some areas and the second will cover the rest. The look all depends on how porous the concrete is. One drawback: Applying the sealer must be repeated every year or every other year because it will take a beating in the intense Arizona sunshine.

4 | Removing one big concrete square and replacing it

This could be possible, but that one new square could look very different from the rest of the driveway.

5 | Covering the entire driveway with concrete pavers

This can be a great solution that will enhance the appearance of your home, although it can be costly. Because you’ll be changing the look of the driveway, you may need approval from your HOA.

Paver manufacturers, like Belgard, make special thin pavers designed to cover driveways. These thin pavers can be used on top of the existing driveway.

But you will have to remove about nine inches of concrete at the street and garage. These areas will be done using a special thinset while most of the driveway pavers will be laid over screeded mortar. Screeded mortar is a smooth mixture made from sand and cement.

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With this type of installation there can be a seamless transition linking the driveway, the garage and the street. You do not need to seal the finished driveway if you buy quality pavers that will not have an efflorescence problem.

So, there are a lot of possibilities for your messy driveway. But in the end, you may decide to rip out the old and lay new concrete again. It’s hard to estimate the price without knowing the size of your driveway, but keep in mind that demolition for the average old driveway could cost $1,500 to $2,000 or more.

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