Winter is just around the corner. Is your driveway ready?

Rain, chilly temperatures, and ice can all wreak havoc on your pavement. To protect it, you need to winterize it properly.

At Betz Works, with over 50 years of combined years of experience in the paving industry, we’ve compiled this guide on winterizing your driveway.

Let’s dive in.

What is Driveway Winterization?

Driveway winterization is the process of taking proactive steps to protect your driveway from the harsh elements and wear and tear of the winter season. 

While asphalt driveways are durable, they’re not indestructible. 

Over time, things like ice-melting chemicals, freezing temperatures, and moisture can all wear your driveway down, causing potholes, cracks, and expensive repairs. 

Driveway winterization allows you to avoid these pitfalls and prepare your driveway for the winter.

When done correctly, driveway winterization maintains your driveway’s appearance, improves your home’s resale value, helps you avoid unnecessary repairs, and prevents safety hazards. 

It also extends your asphalt’s lifespan and ensures your driveway emerges from winter damage-free and looking great. 

Concrete vs. Asphalt Driveways

Today’s driveways are made of two main materials: asphalt and concrete. Chances are, where you live determines which one you have on your property.

If you live in a cold climate, you likely have an asphalt driveway. While asphalt can become gummy and sticky in sweltering temperatures, it is not affected by the cold and is less likely than concrete to deteriorate with prolonged salt use. 

Additionally, the dark color of asphalt absorbs more heat from the sun, which allows snow and ice to melt much faster than they would on concrete. 

If you live in a hot climate, you likely have a concrete driveway. While concrete holds up well to heat, it’s more prone to buckling, heaving, or cracking in frigid temperatures – especially if you haven’t taken proper steps to winterize your concrete driveway. 

As if that weren’t bad enough, the salt used to melt ice can stain, pit, and blotch concrete, leaving your driveway marred and unsightly. Ice and snow also melt slower on concrete, which can cause a slippery, dangerous walking and driving surface. 

While concrete and asphalt are different materials, they both need to be winterized for maximum protection against the elements. If you have an asphalt driveway, you’ll need to seal it every few years to protect the surface and maintain its appearance. 

While sealing isn’t essential for concrete driveways, it will help reduce fading, which is especially important if you have a tinted driveway. Instead of sealing your entire concrete driveway, you can usually stop the progression of cracks by filling them with a sealant, which will prevent further damage. 

If you have an asphalt driveway, follow the steps in the next section to winterize and protect the surface before the cold weather hits.

How to Winterize Your Driveway

prepare your driveway for winter

Take these steps to prepare your driveway for winter:

1. Clean the asphalt surface

Before the heavy rains, make sure your driveway is clean, clear, and ready for maintenance.

Here’s how:

  • Remove any sticks, debris, or branches from the driveway surface
  • Use a power washer to loosen dirt and grime
  • Remove parked cars, bikes, basketball hoops, and other items from the driveway surface

2. Check for damage

Once your driveway is clean, dry, and clear of cars and other items, check it for cracks. 

This is important because even tiny cracks in your driveway will worsen during the winter, when rainwater seeps through the cracks, freeze, and expand. 

Over time, this causes the asphalt surface to heave, break, and become uneven. 

To prevent this, mark any cracks you find during your inspection so you can seal and repair them – more on that in the next step. 

3. Apply crack filler

Now that you’ve identified cracks in your driveway, it’s time to apply crack filler.

The quality sealant fills tiny cracks in the driveway and provides a protective coating that reduces asphalt damage from de-icing chemicals. 

While non-professionals can apply crack filler, we don’t recommend it. Hiring a professional team to seal your driveway is the only way to make sure it’s done right the first time. 

To protect your driveway as effectively as possible, you should seal it every 2-4 years, depending on the weather conditions in your area. 

4. Check for drainage issues

Once your driveway is sealed, look for moisture drainage issues, which can cause water to pool in low spots in your driveway. 

This creates puddles or slick ice spots, depending on the season. To prevent drainage issues, level the ground properly or talk to a paving team about ensuring proper drainage (trench drains and French drains are common options) for your driveway before winter begins. 

5. Buy the right ice melt

Most people use ice melt to remove slick ice spots from their driveways. 

Did you know, however, that the type of ice melt you buy makes a big difference in the longevity of your driveway? 

Some ice melt contains harmful chemicals that can erode or crack your driveway surface. Whenever possible, look for calcium-based ice melt, which will get rid of ice safely and without damage to your asphalt. 

If possible, try to use even calcium-based ice melts sparingly. The more you can shovel or plow your driveway, the longer your paved surface and the sealant protecting it will last!

Looking to Winterize Your Driveway in Santa Cruz County? We Can Help!

Do you need a professional team to help you winterize your driveway? We’re here for you!

Dedicated to helping customers prepare their asphalt driveways and paved surfaces for winter, we provide comprehensive paving, sealing, and repair services. 

For your convenience, we also serve Monterey County and Santa Clara County, including San Jose, CA. 

Ready to learn more? 

Contact us to request your free estimate today.