Three things are certain in life: death, taxes and . . . cracks in concrete. Luckily, repairing unsightly or dangerous cracks in concrete is inexpensive and easy. And mending concrete fissures does more than improve the appearance of cementitious structures. Closing the door on water’s ability to penetrate driveways, walkways and patios improves their lifespan.
The recommended steps outlined here can mend cracks less than 1/4-inch wide. Anything much larger requires a closer look. And repairing crumbling concrete requires an altogether different method. To keep water from entering small cracks, and weeds from coming through, follow the easy steps below.
- Clean—Break off anything that looks thin and brittle around the crack with a masonry chisel and hammer (don’t forget eye protection). Scrape away old caulk with a metal putty knife. Use a leaf blower or, better yet, a pressure washer to remove dirt and loose material both in and near the break. Once the area is free of dirt and debris, move on to step two.
- Caulk—Ensure the crack and surrounding area is dry before caulking. Pick a nice, warm day. Most caulks require ambient temperatures between 50–100 degrees Fahrenheit for proper adherence. Fill the crack with backer rod if deeper than 1/2-inch and make sure to use the appropriate diameter. Use a gray, self-leveling caulk for cracks on flat surfaces. Use a more viscous, non-sag caulk for breaks on sloped or vertical areas. Any caulk that’s flexible and resistant to weather extremes will work fine, but we suggest Sikaflex. Fill the crack with caulk, wet a finger and smooth for an even finish, or use a putty knife (self-leveling sealant shouldn’t need to be smoothed). Repeat this process for every crack that measures 1/4-inch wide or less in driveways, walkways and patios.
- Wait—Step back, pat yourself on the back, have a cold drink; just don’t drive on the caulk until it cures! The cure time varies by manufacturer and product, so check the packaging. Depending on the weather, Sikaflex products will be ready for light traffic in one or two hours but shouldn’t be driven on for three to five days. So, if you are sealing cracks in a driveway, we suggest doing one side at a time so access to the garage isn’t completely blocked. Three to five days might sound like a long time to wait, but tire tracks in caulk joints last forever.
Repairing cracks in concrete improves both the lifespan and appearance of driveways, walkways and patios. Caulk keeps water and weeds away from those pesky breaks in concrete slabs. Intermountain Concrete Specialties has the products and expertise to help with any project. And with seven locations from St. George to Idaho Falls, help is never far away.
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