If you're having a new concrete driveway installed, chances are that you'll be offered some optional extras. Don't be automatically dismissive of everything that might be suggested. Some of them might not be particularly relevant to your situation, and yet some of them might be, giving greater durability to your new driveway and thus protecting your investment. One such optional extra that the driveway company might suggest is concrete joint sealing. While you might want to keep your costs as low as possible, this is an optional extra that might be of great benefit to you. So what exactly is concrete joint sealing? And how do you know if you need it?
Rain, Rain, Go Away
If you live in an area where heavy rain is not entirely unexpected, then adding a sealant between the slabs of concrete of your new driveway is certainly a justifiable expense. This is the whole purpose of a concrete sealant. It prevents water from penetrating the gaps between the slabs of concrete. If this was to happen repeatedly, then the actual slabs themselves might destabilise, causing their position to shift. In cold temperatures, any water that has penetrated the gaps between the concrete slabs might freeze, causing further damage as the water expands during the freezing process. It's certainly something to consider, particularly if the old driveway is being replaced due to cracking caused by water damage.
It's important to remember that concrete slab sealant will not actually be applied when the driveway is put into place. This is because there is a small amount of shrinkage after concrete slabs are installed. The degree of shrinkage depends of the size of the respective slabs, and also the climatic conditions in your area. The actual type of concrete also plays a part. The concrete slab sealant will be applied when the contractor feels that the shrinkage has concluded. When the sealant is ready to be applied, there are some questions you need to ask.
- Will the contractor apply more sealant if the shrinkage process continues? While this is unlikely, unforeseen additional shrinkage of the concrete slabs can split the sealant. You should find out if such maintenance is included free of charge.
- Does the contractor recommend backer rods to support the concrete sealant? This is essentially a thin metal rod that is positioned between the concrete slabs, thus giving greater stability to the sealant. If you are expecting to have a lot of traffic over your new driveway (or if you drive a particularly heavy vehicle), then the added stability of a backer rod can be wise.
So while some optional extras might simply be a waste of money, there is usually a strong case for concrete gap sealant when it comes to your new driveway. Keep this information in mind when investing in concrete repairs for your driveway.