You may not think about it every day, and most folks don’t, but your driveway is under attack. What’s worse is it is under attack on two fronts. You’re probably already seeing the effects of these attacks as your driveway needs seasonal cleaning, develops cracks, and leaves the pathway to your home looking like it has been beaten up.
Every morning as you pull out for work and every evening when you get home, hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds roll across it. This wear is natural and unavoidable. If your car leaks oil or transmission fluid, this can also cause damage. Aside from leaving a nasty stain, if your driveway isn’t properly sealed, the oil or any other fluid can soak into your driveway and soften it, which leads to further damage. There is also the weather. Brutal Louisiana summer heat, violent storms that pound down on it, and father time combine to cause cracks and damage from above. Rainfall affects your driveway more directly than it affects your home's foundation. While improper drainage can take a huge toll, your driveway doesn't have a house on top of it to fend of the pounding of the rain and wind.
What’s more, this is only half of what your driveway has to endure. In many Baton Rouge homes, especially in some of the older neighborhoods, your driveway has to fend off an attack from below as well. Baton Rouge neighborhoods are full of beautiful trees. But, those gorgeous trees in your yard are growing; which means their roots are expanding underground, especially if you have an oak or cypress tree nearby. As those roots grow, they cause a shift in the ground that your driveway rests on, and affects the moisture levels of the soil on which your driveway rests. This leads to instability underneath, pressure pushing upward, and eventually to more cracking. This is also similar to what happens underneath your home.
This barrage of damage leaves many homeowners looking at a substandard element of an otherwise wonderful home. You take pride in your home. If any other part of your home were busted up, you would almost certainly replace it. Why should your driveway be any different? If you are among the crowd that hates spending half a Saturday spraying Round-Up on grass and weeds that spring up in the middle of an area they have no business being; if you worry that your child may sprain an ankle playing basketball on an uneven crack; or if you just want a new look and an upgrade, it may be time for a new driveway.
There are a few things to consider before replacing your driveway. The first thing to consider is, how old is your driveway? The lifespan of a concrete driveway is 20 to 30 years. If your home was built before 1990, and the driveway is original to the house, it is reaching (or has reached) that limit.
The next thing to consider is how much work you have put into it already. Have you resealed it? Have you already done any patch work? Have you gotten to the point where pressure washing no longer makes it look new? The second question is probably the most important one of these three. If you have previously fixed cracks in your driveway and new ones have appeared, you need to keep in mind that the strength of your driveway is compromised. Patching a driveway can plug up a crack, but it doesn’t reinforce the strength and structure of the driveway.
If you are thinking about selling your home in the near future, you should consider the curb appeal that comes with a new driveway. Is your driveway riddled with stains? Does patching make it look like a centuries old street in a European village? When a prospective buyer comes to see the house, the driveway is often the first thing they’ll see and you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
You also want to consider the cost. This consideration can go away quickly if your driveway is covered by your homeowner’s insurance. Most policies cover the driveway in certain circumstances. Talk to your insurance agent to find out exactly how much of the cost can be absorbed by the coverage you already pay for. If replacing your driveway is not covered, there are financing options that can make this easier as well.
Finally, and this is the most important factor to consider, are you happy with your driveway? If your driveway is a cause of frustration due to its appearance, it may be worth your while to just replace it with a gleaming new crack-free, weed-free slab, worry-free concrete driveway.