I may have covered this before, but it still is probably one of the most common questions that I get. I also often hear comments like, “Well, this driveway is 20 years old so it was time for a new one anyway…”. Hearing this to me is like hearing nails on a chalkboard. Twenty years is a newborn in concrete terms. The earliest traces of concrete go back to about 700 BC by the Nabataea traders, and some of their structures are still standing.
An ancient Nabataea building
Scientists even say that concrete in Rome is getting microscopically stronger every single day. So why is your concrete all busted up after only 3 years? Three main factors are what I have found to be the biggest contributors to your spider-webbed, earthquake aftermath, grand canyon of a driveway.
- The most common factor is improper installation or lack of expansion joints. Concrete cracks 100% of the time. It is up to the skilled finishers to know where the cracking will occur and strategically place these joints in the proper places so that when it does crack, the crack is concealed and in a spot that won’t cause long term damage.
- Pour grading is also a big factor. Would it be effective to pour 4 inches of concrete on top of your bed mattress and then drive on top of it? Believe it or not, some of the surfaces we see underneath of replacements are spongy, still wet, or have been tormented by running water or mole tunnels under the concrete. We address these problems and make sure they will not reoccur.
- Hot/cold weather installations are commonly poured without the proper procedures. You can pour in ANY weather condition, but if you are not prepared with the right materials (additives, heaters, retarders, etc.) you are flying blind! Scaling and efflorescence are some of the most common side effects of improper pouring techniques.
Sometimes, especially in our area, it is better to wait a few days until the storms pass, but if you have the need and the means to pour in extreme weather, do it! Keep in mind that some of these methods can be costly (like renting heater blankets) but it is important to know that it always CAN BE DONE. The only time we cannot work in extreme conditions is when the concrete plants close due to freezing, or unsafe conditions.
So next time you ask yourself or someone asks you why you need a new concrete driveway, the answer is really simple. Unless a huge tree, or bulldozer come on your driveway it is because it was more than likely improperly installed.