By Glenn Haege
(All rights reserved)
Filling cracks in driveway, sidewalk is easy
When visitors come to your home, one of the first things they notice is the condition of your driveway and sidewalks. Spending a day cleaning out and filling in those annoying driveway and sidewalk cracks is an inexpensive DIY project that can lessen the chance you will have more cracks develop and will instantly improve your home's curb appeal. It is also an easy enough project that you could get the kids to help.
You have often heard me say, "Water always wins," and the places this is most noticeable are the expansion joints and cracks in your driveway or sidewalk. These cracks are the result of a combination of water getting under the slab and Michigan's freeze-and-thaw cycles, which causes the slabs to heave and sink. This heaving and sinking also causes the expansion joints between the slabs of a driveway and sidewalk to widen, allowing even more water to seep in under the slab.
The good news is that it is a fairly simple DIY project to fill the cracks and slow the water from seeping under the slabs in the future. It will also help eliminate the perfect environment for the weeds that often find a permanent home in these cracks.
When cracks are ½-inch wide or larger, or you are dealing with wider expansion joints, follow these steps:
1. Clean it out. Use a linoleum or hook nose knife or crevice tool to clean out all the weeds, dirt and debris from the crack and then sweep or blow the debris out.
2. Prepare the crack. Measure the width and length of the crack and fill it with flexible polyethylene backer rod, available locally at Theut Products (800-660-6903), National Block Co. (734-721-4056) and other building supply stores. Backer rods come in different sizes, from ½ inch in diameter all the way to 8 inches. Push the backer rod into the crack so that it is about one inch below the surface.
3. Prepare an expansion joint. Pour dry play sand into the joint and either tamp down or drive over the section. The goal is to get as much dry sand as you can into the joint while leaving a three-quarter inch space from the top of the slab. Next, place the corresponding backer rod in the gap leaving one-quarter of an inch. Now it's ready for the next step.
4. Fill it up. Use a tube of self-leveling elastomeric caulk and a caulking gun to fill over the backer rod. First, cut the tip of the caulk tube to the actual width of the crack so you get an even fill. When you come to the end of the crack, release the pressure on the spring of the caulk gun to stop the caulk from spreading.
Some good self-leveling elastomeric caulks include SikaFlex, usa.sika.com, or DAP, www.dap.com.
For cracks less than 1/2-inch wide, you can use a vinyl crack filler from Quikrete, www.quikrete.com, or Euclid Chemical Co., www.euclidchemical.com.
You need to do this project when the weather is both warm and dry enough to allow the caulk to seal properly, so the summer is the perfect time. For a video detailing the steps involved, visit www.MasterHandyman.com, click on "Video Advice" and look for the feature entitled "Repairing Driveway Cracks."
If you would like to suggest a question for this column, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege personally, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The HANDYMAN SHOW can be heard on more than 130 radio stations nationwide.