Mike Holmes: Mid-summer is the only good time to repair your driveway

Driveways help direct water away from the home but require regular maintenance, including resealing, which should be done in mid-summer for best results.

Most homeowners forget about their driveway, but it plays a big role when it comes to proper water drainage around the house.

Driveways and pathways around your home should be designed so as to help direct water away from it. They shouldn’t be completely level to the house, and they definitely shouldn’t be directing water towards it.

That’s why driveways and pathways should slant slightly away from the home, following the grading around the house. If they’re level ,you’re going to get water pooling around the home, and if they’re slanted towards the house you’re actually driving water directly to your garage and/or foundation, which increases the chance of a leak.

MATERIALS
When we talk about driveway materials the top three choices are asphalt, interlocking stone and concrete (or stamped concrete).

Asphalt is the least expensive. It performs well and it’s what most homeowners opt for. But if you’re going to have heavy trucks or toys sitting on your driveway, they can damage it and wear it out prematurely.

Repairing asphalt isn’t easy. In most cases, it’s a complete do-over, meaning it has to get ripped up and repaved.

Interlocking stone is a good option. Not only is it strong, but the gaps between the stones allow for water drainage and the natural expansion and contraction of materials, so it helps prevent buckling and cracks. Also, fixing and making any repairs is fairly straightforward because it’s usually just a matter of replacing damaged stones.

Concrete (and stamped concrete) is typically the top choice. It’s expensive but it can take the most beating. However, salt (a winter de-icer) eats away at concrete, and if there are no gaps for the salt to drain away with melting snow, it will just sit on your driveway, literally eating it away.

That’s why driveways should typically be sealed with a breathable, high-quality sealant — make sure it’s the right one for whatever material your driveway is made of. Just like we have different sealants for different kinds of tiles, we have different sealants made specifically for different kinds of driveways and interlocking stone.

SEALANTS
Sealing your driveway too often can cause problems, such as cracking and peeling, and not sealing it enough compromises its durability and protection. How often you reseal your driveway depends on the material, where you live, the climate, its installation, use and wear and tear; but as a guideline some pros suggest once every three years.

The best time to reseal your driveway is midsummer. Not only is it hot — so it dries faster and you can use your driveway sooner — but materials expand in summer’s heat, and if hit’s resealed when the driveway materials have fully expanded, the pores can take in the sealant better.

If you have an asphalt driveway, use a latex sealant — not oil. Oil sealants might look better — they make an asphalt driveway look shiny and black — and they last longer, but they can cause cracking. (That’s why oil stains from cars are not good for your driveway.) So your driveway might look great the first year, but by next year you might start seeing cracks.

IS IT A DO-OVER?
If your driveway is crumbling and you’re starting to see holes, it’s a do-over.

Asphalt driveways should have a minimum of 10 inches of gravel tamped every two inches — some pros say six to eight inches, but I like 10 to 12 inches — followed by a minimum of four inches of asphalt on top.

So, first we make sure we have proper grading. Then we lay the first two inches of gravel, tamp it; add the next two inches, tamp it again, until we have a total of 10 inches of gravel.

If you can do it, I would let that layer of gravel sit for an entire year, to give it time to properly compress and compact itself, and then do the asphalt on top. That gives you a solid base that protects against driveway cracks, dips and heaving.

It took me two years to do my driveway, so don’t rush yours. Have patience because sometimes that’s what it takes to make it right.

SOURCE:  Mike Holmes, Special to National Post | July 3, 2015 | Last Updated: Jul 3 9:58 AM ETWatch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit makeitright.ca.

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