Over the course of time, wear and tear will affect your business’s concrete driveway. But a concrete driveway that is properly installed and maintained should last at least 20 years, even in Tulsa’s weather ups-and-downs. So, if you’re seeing signs of cracked concrete in a driveway that’s fairly new, you are probably rightfully concerned about it.
Why Concrete Driveways Crack
Here are the top 5 reasons that your concrete driveway forms cracks, and solutions for each:
1. Poor installation
This is by far the biggest cause of cracked concrete in a new driveway. Contractors who rush through a job or cut corners may fail to pack down the crushed stone base or subbase of the driveway. Or, they may use inferior base materials such as sand or dirt, which shift with temperature fluctuations. And these choices can cause cracked concrete.
- Before you begin a driveway project, choose your contractor carefully by vetting them through the BBB, checking online reviews, and getting referrals and recommendations.
- Ensure that the contractor uses only crushed stone for the driveway subbase, and then installs an aggregate base before pouring the concrete.
- If your existing concrete driveway has cracked due to an inferior installation, the only true solution is to replace it.
2. The freeze/thaw cycle
Snow, ice and rain can all give opportunities for moisture to seep into the concrete of your driveway. This is a problem during Tulsa winters, when temperatures can fluctuate frequently and rapidly from freezing to warm-ups and back to freezing. Any moisture that sinks into the concrete during a thaw will then freeze once temperatures drop below 32 degrees. This frozen moisture expands, leading to cracked concrete.
- Don’t use rock salt (aka sodium chloride) on your concrete driveway. The salt digs into the concrete, creating more pores for water to seep into, making the problem worse.
- Choose instead to treat icing with calcium chloride. This substance brings water’s freezing point down well below 32 degrees, which means it eliminates the frequent thaws and refreezes that are common with rock salt.
- Mix a deicer with sand to increase traction for your tires while minimizing damage to your concrete driveway.
- Seal your driveway to limit the penetration of water and salt.
3. Expanding tree roots
Tree roots can grow and extend far beyond the tree’s base. In terms of your concrete driveway, this can lead to cracked concrete as the roots expand underneath the driveway and put pressure on its subbase. The longer this continues, the more likely the concrete is to form cracks.
- If your driveway is lined with nearby trees, you can lay a thick driveway with strong reinforcement in the base to better resist root pressure.
- Install a tree-root barrier along the sides of the driveway to prevent root incursions.
- Consider laying your driveway someplace that is not near existing trees.
4. Heavy loads
Concrete is tough enough to handle light cars and trucks. But your concrete driveway is likely to suffer if it’s being traversed by vehicles that weigh over 10,000 pounds. These heavy loads can cause cracked concrete, and those cracks will get worse after freeze/thaw cycles set in.
- The fix:
Don’t allow overly heavy loads to be transported over your driveway.
5. Sharp objects
Concrete can be chipped or torn up by sharp objects such as studded winter tires, snow shovels, and snowblower blades. So, if you’re not careful about how you clear your driveway of leaves, snow, and other debris after bad weather, you can end up with cracked concrete.
- Avoid using sharp implements to clear your driveway of snow, ice, and debris.
- Invest in plastic show shovels, which are easier on your concrete surface than metal.
- Take extra care when using metal tools on your driveway’s surface.
Address cracked concrete swiftly
Obviously, it’s always ideal to prevent cracked concrete whenever possible. But as time passes, your concrete driveway will eventually need attention and repair. When cracks threaten your driveway’s accessibility and attractiveness, it’s time to contact a professional concrete contractor to get on the case and solve the problem.
R&M Concrete is Tulsa’s leading concrete company—and we’re here to help your Tulsa area homeowners and business owners maintain a superior, smooth, attractive concrete driveway for years to come. Whether you need to address cracked concrete or other issues, we can serve your needs. Check out our residential concrete or commercial services, and contact us to learn more.