All driveways will eventually age and crack as the materials age and break down – but that’s something you should be dealing with in 15 or 20 years, not in the first few years after installation!
So, what is causing those cracks? Here are a few of the most common sources of concrete or asphalt cracking – and how you can avoid them.
The single biggest source of cracks in the Toronto area is the freeze/thaw cycle. Melted snow will seep into the pores in your concrete. When it freezes again, it expands – and that causes the damage and cracking. Salting your driveway only makes things worse; it gets into your surface and then attracts water, lowering its freezing point, and making more freeze/thaw problems. Avoid using rock salt, and instead use calcium chloride – that lowers the freezing point far enough that those freeze/thaw cycles will be less common. Sealing your concrete will help prevent the salt and water from penetrating in the first place, helping preserve your surface.
We may think of concrete or asphalt as indestructible, but in reality, it’s like any other surface. If you had a parking lot made of glass, you’d expect heavy loads to crack it. The same is true for concrete; we’re just talking much, much larger loads. Vehicles weighing north of 5,000 kg can end up doing serious damage to your surface – and those cracks can be entry points for water for future damage. If you’re expecting particularly heavy vehicles, you’ll need more heavy-duty concrete or other materials to withstand the load.
Those studded winter tires? Snowblower blades? Even the scraping of a snow shovel? They can easily chip or crack concrete driveways. If you must use metal, be very careful – and, when possible, use plastic shovels and tools. They’ll chip before your driveway will!