Concrete Cracks: What Is the Best Way To Fix Cracks In Your Parking Lot or Driveway?Posted on September 17, 2021 by Rafael Cantillo
If you have concrete cracks in your parking lot or driveway, then you have a problem. Concrete always cracks, it's an inevitable consequence of wear, although proper installation and maintenance can reduce the development of cracks. Untreated cracks develop into potholes, potentially damaging vehicles.
How Do You Fix Concrete Cracks?
The method for fixing cracks depends on the width of the crack.
Fixing Narrow Cracks
Narrow cracks can be repaired using masonry crack elastomeric filler and a caulking gun, or bottled crack repair material. A standard caulk gun is perfectly usable. If the crack is very small, you can even get away with using a vinyl concrete patching compound.
However, these cracks can be surprisingly deep and we generally use insert foam backer rod first to provide a base for the repair material. Otherwise, you can end up adding a lot of repair material before the crack is full, even to a crack that looks like it's not much at all.
While you can absolutely attempt to repair narrow cracks yourself, it's often better to get an expert. We have the correct equipment and supplies and can typically repair a crack a lot faster than you can. This is particularly true if the crack is going all the way through to the base layer, which is not uncommon. We can also make a better judgment as to what kind of sealant is best and avoid the need for multiple applications, which can greatly slow the process down.
Fixing narrow concrete cracks quickly is typically cheaper than leaving them untreated. They will tend to worsen over time and need more complicated repairs. Inspect your concrete lot or driveway for cracks regularly, paying particular attention after a change in the weather. Heating and cooling can cause concrete cracks.
Fixing Wider Cracks
For wider cracks, the process is more complicated. We actually start by widening the crack into an inverted V shape and removing water and debris from the crack (for this we use a wire brush and broom and water or shop vac). Then we mix a concrete patching compound, trowel it into the crack and smooth the surface. The compound needs to cure before being driven on, for a length of time specified by the manufacturer. For example, crack sealant typically takes 24 hours to cure. This should also be observed between applications if one application was not enough to fill the crack. Make sure to clean up any excess sealant immediately.
How Long Does the Process Take?
The length of time taken depends on the width of the crack, but fixing concrete cracks is typically a quick process, taking no more than an hour or two. The smaller the crack, the quicker and easier (and cheaper) the repair).
Depending on the kind of sealant needed, the area will be usable anywhere from two hours to twenty-four hours after sealing. These waiting periods should be observed as stress on the concrete before it is cured can cause the crack to reappear, and often make it worse.
If you need the lot repainted or resealed, that has to be done after the patch has cured, and then you will need to wait while the sealant cures or the paint dries. Cracks that run across parking lots often necessitate repainting in order to restore the aesthetic appearance, although they are seldom wide enough to affect the readability of lines. Repainting can often be put off until you have a larger area to do.
When Should I Replace Concrete?
So, when should you go ahead and replace the concrete rather than patching cracks? Concrete is very durable, but it does eventually degrade over time.
You should consider replacing concrete that has shown signs of sinking or heaving. If the concrete has been properly installed, with the soil underneath compacted properly, then sinking or heaving is rare. Small heaving, such as tree root damage, is usually easy enough to repair. Larger areas, however, may indicate that there is a compromise in the integrity of the concrete in general and indicate a likely need to replace it.
If your concrete is 25 years old or older, then it's likely to be approaching the end of its life cycle. At some point, cracks will start happening faster than you can repair them. If you have a lot of cracks in an older concrete surface, then it is time to start thinking about complete replacement and whether you want to replace it with concrete or asphalt.
Heavily cracked concrete is likely to experience structural failure, resulting in large potholes and even sinkholes, which can cause damage or injury (and liability for you as the property owner). Because of this, you should consider replacing concrete that has been heavily cracked, and/or which is no longer level. You should fix these issues as quickly as possible as they can be a hazard to people and vehicles.
Can Removed Concrete be Recycled?
One thing which might make you hesitate about replacing concrete when you need to is environmental concerns. Fortunately, removed concrete can now be recycled. Choose a contractor who will remove the old concrete and get it recycled for you.
Concrete is typically recycled by being broken up by industrial crushing materials, then run through an impactor. This concrete can then be used as a base layer for asphalt, to create permeable paving, as a substitute for gravel in uses such as trench foundation and landscaping mulch, and even as part of the aggregate for mixing new concrete. Used concrete is also sometimes used to build artificial reefs. A good contractor will make sure all of your removed concrete is recycled and ideally also use partially recycled concrete in the replacement. There is absolutely no reason for old concrete to end up in landfills.
If you have cracks in your concrete parking lot, driveway, or sidewalk, contact Empire Parking Lot Services today. We can inspect your cracked concrete and determine the best course of action. In most cases, we will be able to perform a simple and quick repair to restore your concrete surface to its original condition.