Winter is Coming – How Can You Protect Your Driveway?

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A well-installed driveway is going to last for many years and shouldn’t need too much maintenance. However, because the driveway is exposed to the elements and takes a lot of abuse, it still needs a level of protection – especially in the winter. Ask any driveway companies in Raleigh and they’ll tell you that winter is the worst time for driveways.

You need to take special care to protect your driveway before winter hits and during the worst of the weather. In this article, we’ll talk about why winter is so hard on driveways and offer plenty of tips on how to protect your driveway for years to come.

1.Why Winter is So Bad for Driveways

So what makes winter so hard on driveways? It’s a combination of the cold and the precipitation.

Cold itself can be hard on driveways, particularly concrete driveways. Concrete doesn’t react well to rapid changes in temperature, and we can see some wild swings in temperature in North Carolina. So if it’s mild one day, then a hard freeze overnight, that by itself can crack a concrete slab. Asphalt is a bit more resistant.

However, both are prone to having water make its way into the slab. Normally this isn’t a major problem since water will typically just percolate downwards and make its way back into the ground with only minimal erosion. However, toss in freezing weather and the problem gets much worse.

Water expands when it freezes. So, if it’s inside your driveway when a freeze hits, that’s going to cause it to expand within the concrete or asphalt. This can easily cause cracks or potholes or widen problems that already exist. And the worse the damage gets, the more expensive it will be to call in Raleigh driveway companies for repairs.

On top of that, there’s also the issue of debris and materials on the surface. Say an asphalt slab has several sticks, gravel, and such scattered on its surface – and then a heavy snowfall hits, burying them under feet of snow. The weight and pressure from the snow will encourage the debris to sink into the surface, breaking the asphalt. The same can be true of concrete as well, although it’s typically less damaging.

In short, winter weather is just bad for driveways. You need to put in some work to prevent cold weather from leaving you with a mess in the spring.

2. Protecting Your Driveway from Winter Weather

Proper winter maintenance of your driveway begins in the fall, when it’s still warm, and continues after the weather turns cold and icy.

Before cold weather hits, you should:

1 – Thoroughly clean your driveway

It’s a good idea to periodically clean your driveway in any case, since dirt and debris can harm the surface year-round. However, it’s particularly important to ensure your driveway goes into winter as clean as possible, to prevent ongoing damage from anything that ends up trapped underneath the snow.

Ideally, this is a two-step process. First, use a broom to sweep away all the larger debris on the surface. Then use some form of power-washing, or at least a garden sprayer, to knock off any remaining dust and other particulate debris.

2 – Make any necessary repairs

Fall is an excellent time to call up local driveway companies to do repairs on your driveway. Otherwise, it’s basically guaranteed that those repair issues will be worse by the time spring comes, and here ‘worse’ also means ‘more expensive to fix.’ It’s always a good idea to fix driveway problems sooner rather than later, to keep the repair bill low, but it’s particularly important to do repairs before winter hits.

3 – Sealcoat your driveway (if applicable)

If you have an asphalt driveway, it must receive a sealcoating every 2-3 years. This sealcoating protects it from the sun and the elements. If your sealcoating is already wearing down in the fall, it will probably fail completely over the winter and you’ll be left with a mess of a driveway in the spring.

Driveway coating is less important for concrete, although some companies also provide concrete coating services.

4 – Ensure your drainage is in good shape

Is water still flowing properly off your driveway? You don’t want melted snow pooling on it over the winter, even if it is sealcoated. Be ready to make some adjustments to the ground around the driveway if it isn’t draining correctly.

After cold weather hits, you should:

1 – Use plenty of anti-ice melter

Don’t let ice stay on the surface of your driveway any longer than necessary. You should have plenty of salt, sand, etc., to melt off ice whenever it forms to minimize ongoing damage to the surface.

2 – Carefully clear off snow

As with ice, you should also regularly shovel your driveway to prevent snow from stacking up for too long. However, be careful. Sharp snow shovels can damage the driveway, especially if you have an asphalt surface. We recommend using rubber-tipped snow shovels with asphalt driveways, to reduce the chances of damage.

3 – Don’t park heavy vehicles on your driveway for long periods

If you drive a heavy consumer vehicle like a Humvee or ever use large commercial equipment, it should not be parked in the same place for a long time. This, combined with all the other problems caused by winter weather, will encourage the driveway to crack and crumble. If you must store a heavy vehicle on your driveway in winter, be sure to move it around every few days.

Blalock Paving Are Leaders Among Raleigh Driveway Companies

We’ve been proudly serving Raleigh and the larger Triangle area since 1968, and in that time, we’ve established ourselves as one of the best driveway companies in Raleigh. From small residential drive-ups to large-scale commercial driveways and parking lots, we have the skills to handle jobs of all sizes. We can also handle all your repair and sealcoating needs, whenever something goes wrong.

Just contact us to schedule an appointment.