If you live in an area that experiences a lot of cold weather, you know all too well the effects of cold on a variety of exterior household materials. The cold makes things brittle and more vulnerable to certain types of damage. It can also wear down certain materials over time, especially if those materials are going through a yearly freeze/thaw cycle.
Driveways are one of the most used areas of any home. Not only do they see daily traffic in most cases, but they have to withstand heavy pressure and friction on a constant basis. This, combined with cold can make for high maintenance requirements, especially with certain types of driveway materials.
In case you want to build a driveway that’s able to withstand the cold for years without breaking down, let’s take a look at how some common driveway materials perform in the cold, and what the best material is for building a cold-weather driveway.
Although you’ll likely find many driveways made from concrete or asphalt in cold-weather areas, they are not the ideal option for cold weather. The homeowners who use these materials in cold-weather climates have to pay a sacrifice in the form of increased maintenance costs and shorter driveway lifespans, because neither asphalt nor concrete is suited to stand the test of time in cold-weather climates.
For starters, concrete becomes brittle and more easily cracked and chipped in below-freezing weather. It also suffers from major structural damage if the surface is penetrated by water because the water freezes and expands in the cold. Once it warms up, the water melts, leaving a bigger gap for more water to get in and freeze when the cold comes back around.
This can lead to huge cracks, buckling, sinkholes, and more if left unchecked. Once your concrete has been compromised, you’ll likely have to have your entire driveway replaced and relaid, which will cost thousands of dollars. Also, if you use de-icing salt to remove ice from your concrete driveway, you’ll likely end up with unsightly blotching and stains.
Asphalt is no friend of the cold, either. Asphalt performs best in warm-weather climates where there is little threat of a freeze/thaw cycle occurring. The same damage from water intrusion that occurs with concrete will occur in asphalt too. Once the sub-surface damage becomes too extensive, the only solution for repair is to resurface the whole driveway.
Resurfacing is expensive and needs to be done about once per decade anyway, but cold weather can speed up that timeline and cost you a lot of money throughout your driveway’s lifetime. Using salt and other measures to keep your driveway safe and clean can also result in a compromised surface. You’ll need to reseal your asphalt driveway frequently to prevent the surface from being penetrated by water.