How To Maintain Your Driveway

Keeping your driveway looking neat and tidy is an easy way to making your home look welcoming to visitors and if you are thinking of selling in the near future, it certainly pays to keep it in good repair. Much will depend on what your driveway is surfaced with as to how you look after it – some surfaces are very low maintenance, others need more or less constant checking and attention.

Gravel

How to maintain your drivewayThe main issues with gravel is that it is very weed prone and also tends to move around. Unless a drive is dead flat, it is not sensible to use gravel as it won’t be long before the surface is all over the road or in the hall, depending on direction of slope. Assuming it is laid on flat ground, gravel does tend to flatten into tyre grooves and these need to be levelled out on a regular basis. Moving the car’s position by a foot or two regularly can actually help to compact the gravel and make it easier to look after. If it is laid on a solid surface or a heavy duty membrane, the chances are that weeds will be quite shallow rooted and won’t grow if the season is hot and dry, but if they are allowed to get bigger and then die and rot down, a layer of natural compost will develop and then there can be a major weed problem that can only be dealt with by using weedkiller. If you have children or pets, you must keep them off the surface until it is thoroughly dry and also try and avoid walking on it yourself before going inside, as some can damage carpets.

Concrete

Concrete, whether flat or marked out as bricks or slabs, is very low maintenance but must be checked for cracks, because these will only worsen in freezing weather if rain gets in and causes expansion underneath the slab. The main problem with concrete is a tendency to develop a layer of algae or moss which can be slippery and very dangerous underfoot. There are various products on the market which remove slime but they can be quite toxic, so you must take care and read the instructions carefully. A less dangerous way of getting rid of this kind of problem on a drive is a pressure washer. These can be hired, but they are also relatively cheap to buy these days and most people find other uses for them if they opt for purchase rather than rent. It is also fun, blasting an area clean and with regular use, it will keep your drive spick and span.

Brick

Brick driveways are really popular these days and although they are the most expensive surface to use they do look lovely. When they are laid, the builders use a thick, compacted layer of dry cement and sand which is also forced between the bricks and then cured with dampening. The process is slow but done well gives a very long lasting driveway. When these drives age they do tend to become a little prone to weeds but if you make it a regular task to brush sand across the cracks to keep them filled, you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Some ‘brick’ drives are not made of individual bricks at all, but are made from pressing a mould into the wet surface of a concrete drive. These look pretty convincing from a distance and need much less maintenance over the years as there are, of course, no gaps.

General care

Most driveways are built on a layer of hard core which will withstand the weight of an average to large family car, spread across an average wheelbase. It isn’t a good idea to overload the drive’s surface on a regular basis or you might find that your drive surface will crack. This will let water in which, in the winter, might freeze and as ice has more mass than water, it will cause heave of the drive, followed by collapse when it thaws. This can be quite a difficult problem to put right and sometimes will need a whole new drive. Most concrete drives have expansion areas built in, with a visible line, often filled with wood, between blocks. Gravel drives with solid bases should be checked periodically for damage – this can be a bit of a heavy job but is well worth it in the long run. Spills such as oil should be cleaned up as soon as possible, to prevent slip hazards as well as a nasty mess being tracked into the house.