Maintaining your driveway is an important part of home upkeep. It protects you and your family from unnecessary damage to your property and vehicles, as well as keeping it looking clean and neat for visitors. If done correctly, a regular maintenance schedule can also prevent future problems from occurring in the first place!
In this blog we'll look at the different types of driveways and surfaces commonly found in Canadian homes, plus how to inspect them for signs of damage that could come with serious consequences later on down the road, as well as maintaining them.
Choosing the right driveway for your property
When choosing a driveway for your property, it's important to consider the climate and weather conditions in your area. You'll also need to think about how much traffic will be traveling on the driveway on a regular basis.
Asphalt and concrete driveways are the most common types of surfaces found in Canadian homes today. Asphalt is a mixture of sand and crushed stone, while concrete is made from cement mixed with water and aggregates such as gravel, sand, or crushed stone.
If you live in an area with harsh winters or frequent snowfall like the Niagara Region, then you may want something more durable than asphalt or concrete, such as paving stone, which can withstand the changes in temperatures without cracking.
The importance of a professional installation
When it comes to driveway installation, there are a few things that you should know. First and foremost, it's important to note that a professional installation is crucial for all types of driveways. While some homeowners may be tempted to save money by doing the work themselves or hiring an inexperienced contractor, this can lead to issues down the line.
Secondly, when you hire a professional contractor for your driveway installation project (and any other home improvement projects), they will ensure that:
- A professional contractor will ensure that the job gets done right the first time around. This means that it won’t be prone to cracking or shifting over time which could lead to major repairs down the line!
- The materials used meet building codes & safety standards as well as general construction practices or bylaws within local municipalities' jurisdictions. For example, driveways usually are regulated in size and location placement. In the city of Niagara Falls "The maximum width of a driveway or parking area in the front yard is 60% of the lot frontage, but in no case more than 9 metres for a detached, duplex and semi-detached dwelling, and 60% of the lot frontage for an on-street townhouse dwelling (55% of the lot frontage in the R1F zone)". Driveways can also be regulated in their height, and this is usually measured from the ground to the top of the driveway. In many cases, there are regulations that require all driveways to be built at least 1.2m above ground level. This ensures that water does not pool on top of your driveway when it rains and floods into your basement or garage.
The pitfalls of an aging driveway
When you're thinking about your driveway, it's nice to think of it as something that will last forever. However, even though you may want your driveway to last for decades and decades, the reality is that over time all things must come to an end. If you don't maintain your driveway regularly, especially if you live in Niagara where we experience multiple seasons that can be harsh on all types of materials, you could find yourself facing some serious problems down the road.
The first thing you need to know about maintaining your driveway is that there are two types of maintenance: preventive and corrective. Preventive maintenance involves keeping up with standard upkeep tasks such as clearing snow from around the edges of sidewalks or driveways before it starts accumulating (so as not to cause damage), brushing away any debris from cracks in concrete slabs so water doesn't pool up underneath them during wet weather months, using sealants on any exposed areas where moisture might seep through cracks in asphalt layers, etc.
Corrective maintenance involves repairing problems when they happen. If you live in Niagara and you have a driveway that has cracked or is showing signs of wear and tear, then it's time to get out your tools and start taking care of business. Specifically, areas that get a lot of rain can be a problem because water will pool up in the cracks and cause them to expand even further over time.
If you find yourself needing repairs more often than once every two or three years, then it might be time to consider some corrective measures. If this is the case for you, then we strongly recommend getting in touch with one of our team members to book an evaluation on.
When to seal
When to seal a new driveway:
- A fresh, clean concrete or asphalt driveway is ideal for sealing. The surface should be free of any loose material that could hinder adhesion and the sealer should be applied within six months of its installation.
When to seal an old driveway:
- If your existing pavement or concrete has been in place for more than five years, it's worth considering whether it would benefit from a fresh coat of sealer as well. As time goes by, cracks will begin to appear in the surface which allow moisture (and dirt!) into these spaces where they can damage both your vehicle tires and the integrity of your pavement itself. These cracks are also a breeding ground for mold and mildew, which can be quite unpleasant to encounter when you're using your driveway. If you notice that your driveway is beginning to show signs of wear, it may be time for a sealant. The best time to seal a driveway is during the cooler months of fall and spring. This allows for adequate drying time in case you miss any spots on your first pass, which can happen if you don't apply the sealer correctly.
Prevention & maintenance
- Regularly sweep the driveway. Sweeping a driveway with a broom or leaf blower will help remove excess dirt and debris, preventing potholes from forming.
- Wash the driveway with a pressure washer. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, run it at least once per week to wash away any oil stains on the pavement.
- Use a grit guard to keep grit out of the gutter. A grit guard is basically just a heavy-duty screen that goes in front of your downspouts, so they don't clog up with leaves, twigs and other debris that fall into them during storms (and also prevents them from getting filled with water during heavy rains). If your gutters are already full of leaves and other junk when rain comes down hard enough for those items to flow freely through them, which happens often enough here in Canada! You'll end up getting tons more stuff stuck inside those pipes than would otherwise happen if there were no such thing as rain or gravity.
How to Remove Oil Stains from Your Driveway
- A degreaser is a cleaning agent that removes oil, grease, and other contaminants from surfaces. It's important to use the right degreaser for your driveway because some will damage concrete if left on too long or at too high of a concentration. When you're shopping for one, look for products that say, "safe for driveways."
- High pressure steam cleaners can remove most stains from concrete with the application of hot water under pressure. This method works best if you have access to both electricity and hot water, otherwise it may take several hours with just one or the other source alone. A chemical stripper works by breaking down the surface layer on top of an oil stain such as asphalt so that it can be washed away more easily. Commercial solvents are strong detergents used in industrial applications where large amounts of heavy contaminants need removing quickly without damaging surrounding areas like floors or walls (in this case: driveways).
We hope that this article has given you the resources to make an informed decision about your driveway. If you're still not sure what type of material is best for your property, we recommend speaking with a professional who can help guide you through this process. If you need any assistance in finding one, contact us today!