How Long Does a Concrete Driveway Last?
Concrete being the cornerstone of modern building makes sense. Concrete is affordable, easily modified, strong, and lasts for several decades. Those qualities and more are the reason concrete is one of the most popular materials for residential driveways.
If you’re laying a new driveway or need to replace your current one, how long does a concrete driveway last? Let’s explore concrete’s longevity including how long a concrete driveway lasts, factors in lifespan, and how to improve your concrete’s lifetime.
Learn About How Long a Concrete Driveway Lasts
A correctly formulated and poured concrete driveway should last 20 to 30 years. Now the question is how do you figure out if it’s 20, 25, or 30? There are many factors that affect concrete’s lifespan including the elements, installation, and maintenance. The following factors have a big impact on the overall lifetime.
Factors in Concrete Lifespan
- External Elements – External elements like UV, wind, and pollution can shorten the lifespan of your driveway. Concrete that’s subject to harsh sun, high winds, and foreign substances (like oil spills) won’t last as long as a more protected driveway.
- Temperature – Concrete isn’t nearly as affected by temperature like asphalt but extreme heat, cold, and temperature jumps and drops can diminish the concrete’s life.
- How Well the Job was Done – Was the job done the right way? If it was poured in the winter was the concrete mixed with the right additives and set at the right temperature? A job done by a certified contractor will stay looking great longer than a poor job.
- Repair – A concrete driveway in great repair will last much longer than concrete that’s poured and ignored. There are ways for both you and a professional to keep your driveway in good repair.
How to Protect Your Concrete
- Cleaning – Regular cleaning is a fast and easy way to give your concrete a better chance at longevity. Cleaning concrete involves keeping debris like organic matter and moisture off the driveway and a concrete wash one to two times a year. You can buy concrete cleaning solutions at any home improvement store. Follow the instructions on your cleaning solution and your concrete will look good as new. Note: Make sure you choose the appropriate cleaner for your specific driveway.
- Making Repairs in Timely Manner – Making regular repairs and following up with maintenance is the best way to keep your driveway looking great. Damage like potholes, cracks, and chipping can allow moisture into your driveway and cause accelerated damage. It’s best to address these problems right away. You can schedule repairs as they pop up but your best strategy is to have your driveway inspected annually by a certified concrete contractor. A concrete specialist can look over the condition of your driveway then schedules repairs as necessary. With regular inspections you don’t need to worry about your concrete’s health going off the rails.
- Keep Snow and Ice Off – Snow and ice can wreak more havoc on your concrete than almost anything else. Keep snow and ice (especially ice) off your driveway as much as you can. It might take some effort, but your concrete will thank you with a longer usable life. Pro Tip – Rock salt and other ice-melting compounds can prematurely age concrete and cause staining. It’s best to remove as much snow and ice manually as you can and keep rock salt to a minimum. Double check that any melting compound you are using won’t damage or discolor if you have sealed or colored concrete.
- Resealing – Resealing creates a protective barrier on top of your concrete that helps it resist the elements and damage. If you want the most from your driveway, you’ll need to seal it every 1-2 years. Your best bet is to schedule a resealing during your annual concrete inspection, but sealing can also be done by homeowners.
5 Signs You Need to Replace Your Driveway
- Deep Cracks – A few cracks here and there will happen on most concrete driveways but deep cracks that reach the concrete’s base can be especially damaging. Cracks down to the base can allow moisture to reach all parts of the concrete causing upheaval and other damage. If you spot a crack down to the base you need to contact a concrete professional right away.
- Connected Cracks – If your driveway is marred by interconnected cracks, chips, and pockmarks, it’s time to replace. Several interconnected cracks can cause as much if not more damage than single, deep cracks.
- Upheaval – Upheaval is when moisture trapped below the concrete expands and contracts, heaving concrete up or letting it sink into the ground. A few small upheaval issues can be repaired by mudjacking your slabs back into place but large-scale issues and severely unbalanced concrete will need replacement.
- Dull Color – Cleaning and resealing will help your concrete keep its color and brightness but if your whole driveway has a dull and dingy appearance that isn’t fixed by cleaning then it’s time for concrete replacement.
- Constant Repairs – Concrete repairs are cheaper than replacement but you need to draw a line if you’re dealing with constant repairs. If you’re calling your concrete contractor for spot repairs more than once a year, it’s a sign that your concrete is on its last legs.
If your driveway is showing any of the following signs it might be time for replacement. If you’ve noticed these signs, it’s time to call for a concrete inspection.
How Long Does a Driveway Last? The Verdict
A concrete driveway should last at least 20 years but with proper care and maintenance it can last up to 30 and beyond. Replace your concrete if needed then follow the steps above to keep your concrete looking new no matter what it faces.