A concrete driveway is a huge investment, and luckily, it’s not one you have to make very often. With proper care and maintenance, concrete driveways can last a very long time.
Here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we’ve been repairing and protecting concrete driveways for over thirty years, and in this time, we’ve seen just how resilient they can really be.
In this article, you’ll find out how long you can expect your concrete driveway to stick around, and some practical tips that can help you make it last longer.
While the lifespan of a concrete driveway depends on many factors, it can last between 20-50 years if properly cared for.
Some factors that influence how long a concrete driveway will last are the climate where you live, the maintenance and upkeep of the driveway, and the overall quality of the original concrete and installation.
Weather, like rain and snow, and exposure to UV rays, play an impact on how long concrete can last. In cold climates with lots of rain and snow, concrete will continuously be exposed to moisture and freeze-thaw cycles, which can cause premature damage and shorten its lifespan.
How sunny it is in the area where you live can also play an important part in how long your concrete driveway will last, as the sun’s UV rays can break down the concrete over time.
Maintenance and Upkeep
Concrete driveways, just like any other concrete surface, require maintenance to keep them looking and performing their best.
Regularly cleaning the surface of your concrete and applying a high-quality penetrating sealer will help protect it from moisture, sun damage, salt, staining, and more.
Caulking the gaps and cracks in the slabs will also help protect the concrete driveway from excessive moisture, which can worsen the cracks and cause the slabs to settle.
If the driveway slabs do eventually settle, getting them professionally leveled as soon as possible can save you from needing replacement in the future.
Original Concrete Quality
How the concrete was made and installed is also a big factor that influences the longevity of a concrete driveway.
If the concrete was manufactured with the wrong ratio of ingredients, the wrong type of concrete was used for the area, or a low-quality concrete was installed, the chances of it lasting 50 years are far slimmer.
If the concrete was installed without the necessary expansion or control joints, there is also a higher chance of it cracking or breaking down prematurely.
Follow these tips to help make sure your concrete driveway lasts as long as possible:
Perform Regular Maintenance and Repairs
Pressure washing your concrete and sealing it with a high-quality penetrating sealer can help preserve and protect it from many causes of damage, like excess moisture, staining, mold, and salt.
Caulking any gaps, breaks, or cracks can also help protect the concrete from water damage and soil erosion, as well as help prevent the cracks from worsening over time.
Lifting and leveling any settled slabs as soon as possible after noticing they’ve settled can help prevent cracking or breaking and make sure that the settling doesn’t progress further, which can make it more expensive to repair.
Shovel Snow and Skip the Salt
It may seem convenient, or even necessary, to throw down salt when a winter storm rolls in, but salt and deicing chemicals can break down your concrete and cause surface damage. Trying natural traction enhancers, like sand or wood chips, can reduce the need for salt, helping prolong the life of the concrete.
In addition, make sure you shovel the snow off the concrete as soon as possible after it falls, as you want to keep it as dry as possible in cold weather.
Leaving snow on the concrete will cause moisture to enter the pores, then freeze and expand within the concrete. As more and more freeze-thaw cycles happen with moisture on the concrete, the surface can become damaged and cracked.
If you have gutter downspouts or any other type of drainage that flows toward your driveway, you should re-route them so that the flow is directed away from it or on top of it.
If there is a constant stream of water hitting or flowing along the side of your driveway when it rains, the soil and sub-material that’s holding up the driveway will eventually erode away.
This can cause voids to develop under the concrete slabs, which leads to sinking and a potential for cracking if the settled slabs aren’t repaired in time. It’s important to fill any voids ASAP after noticing them to prevent this from happening.
While they may seem small and harmless, rodents like mice and chipmunks can damage your concrete driveway. As they burrow and make their home under the concrete, they weaken the foundation that the slab is sitting on.
Over time, the critters create networks of tunnels and voids under the slabs, which can cause the concrete to sink. In addition to rodents, snakes are also a pest that can cause this to occur.
Using DIY methods to remove the pests when you notice them, like setting traps or using repellents, or hiring a pest removal company to take care of them for you, can help you preserve your concrete driveway.
Keep Tree Roots at Bay
Trees are a lovely addition to any yard or landscaping, but if planted too close to a home or concrete, the roots can eventually cause problems as they grow.
If left unchecked, the roots can push concrete slabs up and out of level, which can cause them to crack. Because the roots will keep growing when this is the case, typically the only solution is to remove the roots and replace the slab altogether.
Installing a root barrier system, cutting back the roots, or removing the entire tree may be necessary to maintain a level, even driveway, and prevent cracking.
Restrict Heavy Equipment
If having any work done on your property, make sure that all the heavy equipment stays off of your driveway. Some examples of heavy equipment that you should not allow on your driveway are:
- Tree company equipment
- Heavy box trucks for moving
- Concrete mixing trucks
- Gravel or mulch delivery trucks
Because the concrete used for residential driveways is not engineered to support such large weights, it can crumble, crack, or get crushed when heavy equipment or vehicles drive and park on the surface.
Now that you know just how long your concrete driveway can last – decades! – you’re ready to use the tips listed in this article to help keep it around as long as possible.
Here at A-1, we’ve helped countless customers repair and maintain their driveways with our concrete leveling, caulking, and cleaning and sealing services. If you're interested in seeing what A-1 can do for your driveway, click the link below to request a free onsite cost estimate!
Want to know more about concrete repair and maintenance? Check out these related topics from A-1’s Concrete Academy:
- Concrete Leveling vs. Replacement: Which Is Right for You?
- All About Concrete Surface Spalling
- How to Maintain Your Concrete