You drive over it nearly every day, but you don’t think twice about it until you notice something is wrong. Driveways experience all types of damage, from a few cracks to significant potholes. Although they are just long stretches of asphalt, concrete or brick, they can be expensive to repair and replace.

A driveway serves as the entrance to your home, so it’s good to know whether or not you need an upgrade. Various things may lead to damage, including salt, drastic changes in temperature, and motor oil or gasoline.

Driveways experience various problems, but knowing when to repave or replace them will save time and money and get you back to business as usual.

Types of Driveways

There are various types of driveway materials. However, these four main types — asphalt, concrete, brick or cobblestone, and gravel are used most often.

1. Asphalt

Asphalt combines stone and sand, and it uses a petroleum-based tar as the adhesive. It sets fairly quickly for a new-looking driveway in about one day.

2. Concrete

This type of driveway combines small stones and cement to make a hard surface. With the right maintenance, this can last for decades.

3. Brick or Cobblestone

As the name suggests, this driveway is made up of bricks or cobblestone. Pavers lay down each piece, which can be made into a design of your choice.

4. Gravel

With this method, gravel is dumped, smoothed and pressed to create your driveway.

Signs it’s Time to Repave or Repair a Driveway

If your driveway is still relatively new and you’re just starting to notice minor problems here and there, then you can probably use a top sealant to repave or do simple repairs. This can make your driveway last longer, and it will keep damage from spreading. Plus, you’ll save money by doing repairs or a repavement rather than undertaking a full replacement.

How do you know when you should do minor repairs? Here are some issues that would only require little maintenance:

  • Minute cracks: As long as cracks aren’t noticeably wide and don’t connect, you can repair them. Fixing them now will prevent them from spreading and getting any wider. If you live in a colder region, water can enter them, freeze and then expand the crack.
  • Faded color: Although the color isn’t always something that needs to be addressed in a repair, it will improve curb appeal and make your house look better overall. If the shade has faded over the years, you can add a sealant to bring the driveway back to life. While this is most often used on asphalt, you can also use this on concrete, new gravel, or pressure-wash brick and cobblestone versions.
  • Sunken areas: Some driveways may develop sunken areas, especially outside the garage. If the driveway is lower than the garage floor, you can patch it to bring it back to the correct level.
  • Potholes: A pothole or two are completely repairable. Fill it with stone, dirt, or more concrete or asphalt and level it out with the rest of the driveway. This will work as long as it isn’t huge or damaging your vehicle.
  • Signs of wear under 10 years: Driveways generally are meant to last 15 years, so if yours is less than 10 years old and has some damage, make the necessary repairs now to further its life.
  • Crumbled edges: In concrete and asphalt driveways, crumbling edges mean your driveway was probably too thin when installed. You could add some additional edging to prevent further damage.

Each of these minor issues with your driveway is easily repairable, whether you hire someone or do it yourself. By making small repairs now, you’ll extend the lifetime of your driveway by at least a few more years.

Signs it’s Time to Replace a Driveway

Unfortunately, driveways aren’t meant to last forever. While you can get nearly two decades out of some, when damage isn’t taken care of, it’s probably time for a replacement.

Here are some signs your driveway needs replacing:

  • Too many cracks to count: Small cracks are repairable. However, when they spread into spiderweb cracks, you should probably look into replacement. Water enters the fissures, and when it freezes, they will continue to expand.
  • Multiple potholes: If there are more than one or two potholes that go deep into the foundation, repairs or filling them will no longer help. These also collect water and cause significant damage to your vehicle if you hit them.
  • Drainage problems: Driveways often aid with water drainage from your yard and gutters. When it can no longer keep it away from your home’s foundation, you should replace it.
  • Combination of damage: A combination of these issues will eventually lead to a need for a new driveway.
  • Selling your home: If you’re selling your house soon and the driveway is quite old, replacing it could add value to your home and boost curb appeal.

It’s better to replace your driveway than let it deteriorate. This is certainly an investment, but it will prevent damage to either your car or home.

How to Know it’s Time to Repave or Replace a Driveway

Maintaining your driveway and being aware of minor issues will expand its lifetime.

Performing regular maintenance checks will keep it at its best and save you money over time. You will have peace of mind knowing that your home looks its best and is safe from potential damage.

Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, a home improvement publisher with advice on gardening, decor and DIY projects.