Most people don’t give their driveway a lot of thought and that’s understandable, to a point. After all the driveway is usually paved with some heavy duty material like concrete or even interlocking pavers and so doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that will need a lot of tender loving care. But driveway maintenance - while it may not be the kind of thing you need to engage in on a daily basis - is nonetheless something that you ignore at your own peril and in this post we’ll touch on a number of reasons why that is.
The Downside of Letting Your Driveway Go
Here are just some of the ways a poorly maintained driveway can negatively impact your single biggest investment (that would be your home).
- Reduced Curb Appeal: Regardless of what material your driveway is paved with if it’s poorly maintained it will take a bite out of your home’s curb appeal. An old, cracked, bleached out asphalt driveway is a sorry thing to behold, while a concrete driveway that’s stained or been undermined by the freeze/thaw cycle will give any home a rundown look that will be hard to shake. If your driveway is composed of interlocking pavers and the edge has given way it can lead to individual paving stones coming loose and the whole surface looking shabby.
- Damage to Your Foundation: When the asphalt or concrete in a driveway becomes cracked or interlocking pavers come loose water penetrates into the sub-layers. This penetration can destabilize the entire driveway area and, depending on where the house is located relative to the driveway, could also cause water pressure to build on the home’s foundation. This type of hydrostatic pressure is a prime cause of foundation damage and water in the basement.
- Loss of Home Value: It doesn’t take much to send the value of a home into a tailspin and having a shabby looking, unsafe driveway is certainly one way to do just that. Valuations are built on a number of factors including safety, “livability” and the likelihood a home would attract buyers if offered for sale. A poorly maintained driveway can put downward pressure on all those factors and cause your home to lose significant market value.
- Reduced Safety: A cracked driveway surface and/or one with potholes becomes a tripping hazard for kids, neighbors and guests and could lead to extremely unpleasant injury lawsuits. At the same time driving your car through potholes every day just to get it into and out of the garage is a surefire way to do damage to the suspension system or knock the steering out of alignment.
So what can be done to make sure your driveway looks good and performs to expectations from curbside right up to the garage? Here are a few practical steps you can take.
- Sealcoating: Sealcoating a driveway provides improved appearance, enhanced protection against the elements and can stave off the need for expensive repairs in the long run. A proper job of sealcoating your driveway blocks UV rays from bleaching out the asphalt surface, fills in tiny holes and cracks that could otherwise lead to larger problems and makes the surface more resistant to grease and oil stains.
- Pressure Washing: Subjecting a dirty driveway to the occasional pressure wash can provide long lasting aesthetic and practical benefits. Asphalt and concrete surfaces that have been stained by oil, grease or any other type of liquid will typically clean up nice under a good pressure wash. Likewise interlocking pavers typically respond very well to a pressure wash. However, you need to be careful not to bring too much pressure to bear as it could loosen or even remove the sand between the pavers. A pressure wash is also a good idea before you apply a sealer as it will remove any materials that could compromise the sealant adhering properly to the surface.
- Be careful what comes in contact with the surface: If you use chains on your tires during the winter you’re going to significantly reduce the life expectancy of your driveway, regardless of whether it’s asphalt, concrete or interlocking paving. And speaking of winter it’s not a great idea to subject your interlocking pavers to a snowplow, as the plow’s blade can catch on tiny elevated parts of the interlocking pattern and yank individual pavers right out of the ground. A better idea is to use either a domestic snowblower or have the drive shoveled by hand.
Keeping your driveway looking good and safe for everyone is an important aspect of your overall property maintenance. The good news is that it’s not as difficult as you might think. Just follow the above tips and you should add years to your driveway regardless of which material it is paved with.