Concrete is a strong and durable material, but it seemed to crack through the years which makes people wonder if this is a common occurrence. If you are planning to renovate your driveway and thinking about using concrete, we have shared tips and ideas to help you get started. Below, we will discuss the different reasons why concrete driveways crack, how to repair them, and how to prevent them from happening.
Do all concrete driveways crack? It is inevitable for concrete driveways to crack over time. Different factors cause the cracks on concrete which include different weather conditions, heavy loads, tree roots, and shifts in the ground. Moreover, cracking is normal in concrete driveways that are freshly poured. These cracks will become undetectable as the concrete settles.
Concrete driveways that are properly installed are considered among the most durable materials that you can use for your driveway. On the other hand, the contractors that you hire must conform to the guidelines on concrete placement. It takes the right mixture, installation, and environment to produce durable, long-lasting, and crack-resistant concrete.
Is it Normal for a Concrete Driveway to Crack?
It is normal for a concrete driveway to crack. This can happen due to many reasons which include weather conditions, the amount of traffic that the driveway receives daily, and even shifts in the ground. By learning how to properly repair cracks in a concrete driveway, you can prevent them from becoming bigger to the point where you need to replace a large part of your driveway.
Will Cracks on Fresh Concrete Go Away?
Cracks on fresh concrete will eventually go away as it dries. Take note that shrinkage cracks can show the surface of the concrete a few hours after it is poured. This will go away as soon as the concrete settles which can take about a month depending on a few factors. Concrete cracks that measure about 1/8 inches or smaller are considered a standard. We have also shared this article titled, what is the most durable material for a driveway? You can check out the article to learn more about the topic.
What Causes Concrete Cracks?
Cracks on concrete can be caused by excess water in the mix, rapid drying of the concrete, and lack of joint controls. Below, we have shared the different causes of concrete cracks that you can use to diagnose cracks in your concrete driveway. You can always hire the services of a professional for an assessment.
Excess Water in the Mix
One of the common reasons why concrete crack is excess water in the mixture. Bear in mind that to achieve its maximum strength, you need to limit the water in the concrete mixture. On the other hand, most concrete used in residential driveways has too much water added into them. While the water makes it easier to install the concrete, it also reduces its strength. The main reason why cracks occur is due to shrinkage. As concrete continues to harden and dries, it will also shrink. The reason for this is that the excess water that is in the concrete mixture evaporates. Hence, the more water added to the concrete mix, the greater it will shrink.
Quick-Drying of the Concrete
When concrete rapidly dries, it also cracks. This is because of the process of turning concrete from liquid to a solid-state needs water. This process continues to happen for many days after the concrete is poured into the driveway. See to it that there is enough water is available by properly curing the concrete slab.
What are the Different Types of Concrete Cracks?
The different types of concrete cracks include plastic shrinkage concrete crack, expansion concrete cracks, heaving concrete cracks, and concrete crack from overloading slabs. You might notice cracks in freshly poured concrete. You do not have to worry because it is a common occurrence. You can still see some cracks on the surface of the concrete even if the contractor did a perfect job. It is inevitable to have these cracks because of the surface structure of the concrete.
Concrete that is in its plastic or liquid state is full of water. As the water evaporates from the slab, a large void will remain between the solid particles where the water has been. As a result, these empty spaces will weaken the concrete and make it vulnerable to cracks. Plastic shrinkage concrete cracks happen frequently.
Heat makes concrete expand and as it expands, it pushes against anything that is in its way. If there is no more space for expansion, the expanding force can cause concrete to crack. Expansion joints are used to separate static surfaces. These joints are usually made from a compressible material such as rubber, lumber, or asphalt. They act as shock absorbers during the expansion and prevent cracking on the concrete.
Another cause of cracks on concrete is ground settling that happens below a concrete slab. This type of concrete crack usually happens if there is a void on the ground below the surface of the concrete. For instance, if a large tree is removed near your driveway and its roots start to decompose and the soil becomes loose. This can cause the ground below the concrete to move and have a void, which can result in cracks on its surface. We have also shared this article that discusses if you can chip seal a gravel driveway. Read the article for more information.
From Overloading Slab
Concrete can also crack because of overloaded slabs. While it is true that concrete is a strong and durable building material, it is still susceptible to damages. If the concrete is exposed to excessive amounts of weight that it can carry, it will eventually crack. Take note that a concrete mix with a strength of up to 5000+ PSI means the pounds per square inch that it would take to crush the concrete slab.
Residential concrete driveways are not prone to this type of concrete crack because of the types of vehicles that go through it daily. On the other hand, excess overload on the ground below the slab can likely happen. This can be caused by weather conditions. For instance, after being exposed to heavy rain, the ground below becomes soft. If you put too much weight on the slab, it will press the concrete down and can lead to cracks.
How to Repair Small Concrete Cracks
Small cracks are easy to repair with the use of sealants. If your concrete driveway has cracks that measure ¼ inch in width, you can simply fill it with a sealant that you can purchase at your local hardware store. Small cracks that are smaller than ¼ inch are happens because of shrinkage as the concrete cures. Fortunately, these small cracks do not get larger so you do not have to worry about it. These cracks do not get larger.
On the other hand, if water seeps into the cracks, freezes, and expands, this will cause the cracks to widen. Hence, it is recommended that you immediately seal the cracks using a high-quality sealant. Sealing the smallest concrete cracks can prevent bigger problems and damages that can happen if it is neglected.
✅ Video – Concrete Driveway Crack Repair
FIX IT Home Improvement Channel shared the video below on YouTube. It discusses how to fix a crack repair in a concrete driveway. In the video, the different solutions and method of sealing a concrete crack is discussed. Check out the video for more tips and information.
Is it Possible for Concrete Not to Crack?
Concrete will most likely crack. Even those that are labeled as crack-resistant can still crack. On the other hand, concrete is less likely to crack if moisture slowly evaporates from it. Make sure to spray water to the concrete driveway a few times every day after the first week that it is poured. Bear in mind that hot and dry weather will cause the concrete to dry rapidly and cause cracks. You can also check out this article that we have shared that discusses what size of gravel you need for your driveway. We have shared helpful tips that you can refer to.
How Do You Fix Hairline Cracks in New Concrete?
One method to easily fix hairline cracks in concrete driveways is to use grout that is made of Portland cement and water. Create the mixture by adding enough water to the cement so that it creates a thick paste. Before you add the grout, make sure to moisten the concrete along the hairline crack for several hours.
What is Acceptable Cracking in Concrete?
The acceptable cracking in concrete is 1/8 inch or less. This is considered as the normal shrinkage crack and will not cause any problem to the concrete. However, large cracks or those that are growing larger should be immediately repaired. You can also check out this article that we have shared that discusses if crushed concrete makes a good driveway. We have shared an in-depth discussion about the topic.
In this article, we have discussed if all concrete driveways crack. We have found out that concrete driveways will eventually crack over time due to different factors. While concrete is considered a durable material, it is not immune to damage. Proper installation of the concrete driveway will determine if it will crack or not. Hence, it is recommended that you hire the services of a professional contractor to handle the job. This way, you can guarantee that it will be installed according to the guidelines of concrete placement. Thank you for reading!