Renewing Your Driveway: Repairing Concrete
Even if your driveway is an expanse of puddles and potholes, it pays to explore renewing it first. It's a simple matter of dollars. For example, an asphalt topcoat costs about $2 per square foot - roughly a third of the tab for a complete driveway redo that includes soil prep, gravel and two coats of asphalt.

If your driveway is crumbling or has heaved or subsided in a major way, then your best option is to replace it. The same applies if it's allowing water to seep into the subsoil around your home. But often the problem is just cracks, which let in water that erodes the driveway base and allows freezing temperatures to do further damage. Nearly any size crack can be patched with concrete or cold-patch asphalt, depending on your driveway type, or with some very effective specialty materials.

Clean cracks and holes of plants and debris, then hose them clean and spray them with weed killer. Effective patching products for cracks up to 3/8 in. wide include UGL's Masonry Crack Filler ($3 a tube), Ardex's A-300 ($47 for a large bag) and Quikrete's Concrete Crack Sealer ($6.50 a quart). For holes or cracks larger than 3/8 in., use either Concrete Repair ($2.50 per quart) or Vinyl Concrete Patcher ($4.50 per half gallon), both from Quikrete. Or, you can simply mix concrete and apply it with a trowel.

To fix large holes and deep cracks, fill them with gravel to within 4 in. of the surface, pour in concrete, tamp with a magnesium float and finish with a flat trowel or broom to match the existing finish. However, the larger the patch, the shorter its longevity - winter freeze/thaw cycles that exert pressure of 30,000 psi can make short work of big repairs.

After patching, remove any spots with a specialty cleaner, such as Quikrete's Concrete and Asphalt Cleaner ($4.50 a quart). Then seal the repair to keep water out. UGL's Concrete Sealer ($13 a gallon, which treats 400 sq. ft.) is an affordable choice. The home-brew version: a 50-50 mix of linseed oil and mineral spirits. But keep in mind this sealer darkens the concrete.

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