The Nitty-Gritty of Minnesota Concrete Driveway Repair

The driveway is the path that links the street to your home. Homeowners choose from a variety of surfaces with the most common being concrete or asphalt. Because of the harsh cold winters and the sweltering hot summers, concrete is the choice medium for most Minnesotans. Concrete driveways will last 15-20 years but because of the natural tendency of concrete to contract during the winter and swell in the summer, it is invariable that cracks and divots will begin to appear.

Why do you need your driveway repaired?

Is it damaged, cracked, or old? And, depending on other influences, will you want your driveway patched, resurfaced, or replaced? Because a new driveway is expensive to install, a resurface might provide the right solution for you. At the end of the day, patching is the last option to consider. However, cracks that are less than 1/4″ wide can usually be patched without future consequences. But cracks wider than 1/4″ may require a more extensive measure of repair. If the cost of a new driveway is beyond your budget at this time, patching the cracks and divots will offer some sustainability until such a time as you can afford a new driveway. With a Minnesota concrete driveway repair, we know there will be several factors to consider, not the least of which personal preference plays a key role.

How significant is the age of your driveway?

Driveway longevity is dependent on the type of concrete used, how it is mixed and poured. A professionally constructed driveway should last 15-20 years but could last as long as 30 years. If your driveway is approaching the outer limits of these parameters and it is beginning to show cracks, divots, and discoloration, it is time to replace the entire driveway. It is counter-productive to try to fill cracks and divots only to finally replace the driveway a year later. Patching provides a temporary solution, but in the end, it will need to be replaced.

What about external considerations?

Are you in the process of selling your home? Your driveway could make or break your home’s presentation depending on its appearance. Do you want your driveway to complement and complete your home? Patching cracks, fractures, and fissures will stick out like a herd of elephants running down Main Street. If your concrete driveway is closing in on that 15-20 year window and beginning to show the wear and tear of old age, then it’s time to think about a replacement.

What is the process?

Before we pour the new driveway we need to remove the old one. Concrete driveways take more time to break up and remove than an asphalt or gravel driveway. Standard procedure is to break up your old concrete driveway into manageable chunks and haul off to a recycling yard. The next thing we would do is evaluate the sub-grade. We will be looking for soft spots, organic material, and whether or not the surface is compactable. If the sub-grade is unsatisfactory, we will need to excavate 5-6 inches of soil and replace it with a compactable class five base material. Following that, we will design your driveway and evaluate the strength and reinforcement of the concrete. We strive for a mixture that will endure the freeze and thaw of the Minnesota winters. Potential cracks are controlled by creating areas beneath the surface that will yield to the expanding and contracting nature of concrete. In order to keep the concrete from drying too fast, we cure the concrete by sealing moisture in for a few days. The surface of a concrete driveway is allowed to dry for a month and finally, the concrete is sealed creating a watertight surface.

If you are in the business for a new driveway or have a driveway in need of repair, we invite you to contact Minnesota Concrete for a free on-site assessment and estimate. We look forward to hearing from you.

Concrete Repair Minnesota: Signs Your Concrete Driveway Needs Repair

While concrete is an extremely strong and durable driveway material, over time, weather and the weight of your vehicles can cause this surface to break down and become damaged. When this occurs, it is vital for you to have your driveway repaired before it becomes further damaged to the point where it may need more extensive repairs, or even replacement. Yet, how will you know when your driveway is showing normal signs of aging versus when it will require professional repairs? Here are a few of the signs you can be on the lookout for that can help you to determine whether you may be in need of concrete driveway repair in Minnesota.

Cracks

Small cracks in your concrete driveway may not initially seem like a serious problem, however, if left unattended, these cracks can lead to more severe structural problems with your concrete surface. This is because cracks in your concrete, if not repaired, will only continue to expand and grow. This can allow plants to grow up within these cracks, as well as for moisture to seep into the cracks, all of which will cause more extensive damage to your driveway, and can end up compromising the structural integrity of your driveway. For this reason, it is important to have cracks repaired as soon as they appear in your driveway, as doing so will save you money in the long run, and will extend the life of your concrete driveway.

Potholes

Potholes are a fairly easy sign to detect indicating the necessity to have your driveway repaired. Potholes occur in your concrete driveway as a result of the dirt underneath your driveway shifting. When you drive on your concrete surface after the ground below it has shifted, this can cause sections to cave in, which creates these potholes. Should a pothole appear in your driveway, it is important to have it repaired as soon as possible, as it can cause damage to your car, as well as to anyone who unknowingly trips in it. Additionally, potholes can allow water underneath your driveway, which can lead to extensive damage to your concrete surface. This makes repairing these potholes imperative.

Drainage

As you have likely determined by now, water can wreak havoc on a concrete surface, causing damage, and can also extend preexisting damage. This makes it vital that your driveway has the proper drainage so that water is not left to sit on your concrete surface. When your driveway is not properly leveled, and does not have sufficient drainage systems, water will be allowed to pool and collect on it after it rains. This water can lead to a variety of structural problems with your driveway including the cracking and potholes mentioned above, which can cost you a great deal of money, and can even compromise your concrete driveway. It is then important that you have a professional correct this problem should you notice drainage issues in your driveway, as this is a sound investment that can extend the life of your concrete driveway.

Concrete driveways are the most common choice among homeowners due to their strength, practicality, and longevity. However, in order to get 30 years out of your concrete driveway, you must perform the proper maintenance and repairs on your driveway in the event they become damaged. This makes it important that you are aware of the signs that indicate that your driveway is in need of repair; however, we have only discussed a few of these signs here. Contact us to learn more about the signs that indicate that your concrete driveway is in need of repair, as well as to schedule a repair for your driveway.

Minnesota Concrete Driveways Survive the Winter

We’re back at that time of year when the temperatures dip down at night, a sure sign that fall is here, and winter is right around the corner. We might not like to think about it, but it won’t be long before it will be time to tune up the snow blowers, put on the plows, and get those shovels ready to work. If clearing snow during the winter months is a hassle, there are several reasons why a Minnesota concrete driveway can make your job easier.

  1. Concrete driveways provide a smooth, strong surface to help with easy snow and ice removal. Those with other types of driveways might know the frustrations of clearing the driveway. Snowblowing a gravel drive sends those small rocks flying, which can not only be dangerous, but come spring, you have to pick them out of your lawn, and often have gravel delivered to replace what you lost. A blacktop driveway sounds like a good idea, but after plowing a few times, homeowners find that they are clearing more than just snow, when chunks of their driveway end up in the snowbanks. It’s a frustrating experience, considering the financial investment required for a blacktop driveway. Concrete driveways are much easier to clear, with a smooth surface that is easy to plow, shovel, or use a snowblower. And because concrete is so strong, you don’t have to worry about pieces coming off when using a plow.
  2. Concrete has a high thermal mass. Thermal mass is a property that enables materials to absorb, store, and later release significant amounts of heat. This advantage is especially attractive to homeowners who currently have gravel or stone driveways. When upgrading to concrete, you will notice that when the snow first starts falling, the thermal properties will melt it and it won’t start to accumulate as fast. Then, in between storms, when other driveways are snow packed for weeks, concrete driveways will absorb some of the sun’s rays and melt some of that snow and ice, enabling you to completely clear your driveway. In the late winter, especially, when the freeze, thaw cycle often results in icy surfaces that are dangerous to walk and drive on, you’ll be glad you chose a concrete surface.

Unfortunately, many people conveniently forget how hard it is to clear their driveway, until about January. If a concrete driveway is something you want to enjoy the benefits of during the coldest months of the year, it’s best to think ahead. This is an optimal time to install a concrete driveway, with perfect weather conditions that will result in a strong, durable product able to withstand this winter, and many more to come.

If the benefits of a concrete driveway appeal to you, but the look of it does not, we have a solution for that too. Through a variety of techniques, including stamping, coloring, and cutting, we can give your driveway a unique look that will enhance your curb appeal, and make coming home every day a pleasant experience. We can make your driveway look like pavers, bricks, slate, or a variety of other choices that will give your driveway a unique, upscale look with all the benefits of a concrete driveway.

Winter is coming, and wouldn’t it be nice to be able to easily clear your driveway from the snow and ice? If you’re looking for an experienced, dependable company to get the job done, contact us. We offer free evaluations and no obligation estimates, and have favorable reviews from the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, and Home Advisor. Call today to get your new driveway started.

A Minnesota Concrete Contractor Discusses Driveway Construction

Homeowners might look at a concrete driveway as a commodity product that has the same construction components regardless of who builds it. However, no two concrete driveways are the same. If you are building a concrete driveway in a region that is subject to weather extremes, such as Minnesota, your concrete driveway contractor will need to consider several factors to ensure that your driveway looks good for many years after its construction.

Subgrade Preparation

A subgrade that does not have uniform soil composition and compaction will not provide the proper support for a concrete slab driveway. If necessary, your concrete contractor should replace soft soil with crushed stone or gravel to prevent any settling or cracking of the slab. The subgrade material should also resist expansion or contraction with changing weather conditions.

Concrete Mix

Not all concrete mixes are the same, and some mixes may be wholly inappropriate for concrete driveways in Minnesota. Ask your contractor about the mix he plans to use and how durable that mix will be over time.

Control and Isolation Joint Placement

A concrete slab can crack and settle unevenly if your contractor fails to space control joints properly. Industry standards dictate that control joints should be placed no more than 10 feet apart for a 4-inch thick concrete slab. Joint depth and patterns are also critical considerations. Your contractor should show you a joint plan before he pours the concrete.

Reinforcements

Wire mesh and steel rebar can provide additional support for your driveway over time. Talk to your contractor about the loads that you expect to place on your driveway. Steel or mesh reinforcements will not stop driveway cracks, but they can help to maintain the integrity of a driveway over a longer period of time. Ask your contractor about industry standards in your area for reinforcement usage and spacing.

Thickness

You should never compromise on concrete thickness. At a minimum, your driveway should be 4 inches thick. Increasing the thickness to 5 inches will increase your construction costs, but that extra inch will also substantially boost the driveway’s load capacity. Concrete should also be thicker along the driveway’s edges.

Finishing

A concrete contractor’s ability to properly finish a driveway is a primary factor that distinguishes a quality contractor from an inexperienced installer. The driveway surface should first be leveled to assure uniformity. Next, the concrete should be floated with a bullfloat before bleedwater accumulates on its surface. Last, the surface should be swept or finished to ensure proper traction. If you are unsure of any of these steps, ask your contractor for a more detailed explanation of how he intends to finish the surface.

Slope and Drainage

A driveway should be sloped away from your house to prevent water accumulation in living areas and to ensure proper drainage after rain and snow storms. Even a small amount of moisture near a house can degrade garage doors and foundations. If the concrete driveway will be constructed in an area that does not facilitate a good slope, your contractor should install a separate drain in the driveway.

Curing

All concrete structures will set and harden through a chemical process over time. You may need to maintain a layer of moisture or a curing blanket on your driveway surface to get a proper cure. Do not assume that the concrete will cure without any effort on your or your contractor’s part. An improperly cured concrete surface will begin to degrade soon after construction.

A good concrete driveway will cost a bit more, but it will last many years and will add to the value of your home. To locate a quality concrete driveway contractor in Minnesota, please see our website or contact us for more information about the importance of hiring a reputable concrete contractor.