There is often a noticeable space between the driveway and the garage, which is unsightly and accumulates filth. So, you might be wondering what you can do to effectively fill in this unwanted gap. The gap can widen over time, and it can affect either concrete or asphalt driveways. As such, we have thoroughly researched the best way to fill the gap between the driveway and garage.
There are three common steps to follow in order to successfully fill the gap between a garage and the driveway:
- Clean and measure gap
- Apply backer rod
- Fill the gap with sealant
Fixing a gap between the driveway and garage can seem like a challenge for some, but the basic steps are straightforward and only require some unique tools. Keep reading to learn the proper way to fill driveway gaps, the proper materials to use, and when it is ideal for applying them.
Should you fill driveway expansion joints?
Experts such as the American Concrete Institute explain that concrete expansion joints are commonly filled with compressible filler material. Filling the joints will not affect their highly important function, which is to relieve stress from the concrete as it expands and contracts due to temperature changes.
If there is no gap between the driveway and garage, then you will be less likely to trip during a hurried morning. The driveway can also look much smoother, which will draw much less attention away from the surrounding style of your home.
Most importantly, filling the driveway expansion joints can protect them from water damage. If water is able to accumulate between the concrete, then it will likely eat away at the overall durability and eventually cause chipping or cracks. This would create an even larger task, which can potentially cost more time and money than filling the expansion joints ahead of time.
What do you fill driveway expansion joints with?
Because expansion joints help prevent cracks from reaching the surface of the garage floor, it is best to avoid filling these gaps with stiff filler. Although epoxy is sometimes used for its high durability, it may require other additional products to become acceptable. That’s because epoxy is not flexible, and your driveway will likely not remain smooth for long.
Instead, it is best to use a combination of a backer rod and a self-leveling sealant. A backer rod is a long foam tube that is available in various lengths and widths. These have the unique ability to fill a gap with enough flexible material that a sealant can be applied afterward.
Should you caulk concrete expansion joints?
Because true caulk is technically going to be less elastic after it dries, it would not be ideal to use when filling expansion joints. Instead, a more specific sealant should be used that is designed for these joints.
A self-leveling sealant is a type of filler that will flow and even itself out throughout a gap. This is commercially sold by various brands in either a tube or cartridge. Also, it can usually be sanded down or painted after application.
You can read the post “How Much Driveway Sealer Do I Need?” to help you prepare for the job.
For a clear visual of self-leveling sealant, you can review this Home Depot video on YouTube. The product demonstrated is specifically compatible with expansion joints.
How large of a gap can you caulk?
It’s important to note that both caulk and sealant joint fillers are often discussed in the same way, but they have a serious difference. That’s because caulk is also a broader term that is used for any fillers that create an airtight and waterproof space.
But specialists like Home Depot have distinguished true caulk as a joint filler that is stiffer after it dries. As a result, actual caulk would not be ideal for gaps that are larger than a quarter of an inch.
The caulk would simply crack and should instead be substituted with a corresponding sealant. There are multiple sealants that are sold for various specified purposes.
How to Fill the Gap Between the Driveway and Garage
1. Clean and Measure Gap
There are multiple tools necessary to properly clean and measure the problematic gap. First, you will require a digging tool such as a wire brush or screwdriver.
A wire brush can be used to scrape because its bristles are generally made of steel. A screwdriver may be necessary for more stubborn things. With either or both of the tools, you can scoop out the various debris, dirt, and other loose items that may have fallen into the gap over time.
Next, you can use a shop vac to suck up all of the extra material that couldn’t be reached or removed by hand. A shop vac is a special type of vacuum that is designed for woodworking shops and construction sites.
Shop vacs have a larger, more durable hose and tank that can withstand rougher objects. This may be necessary for loose concrete that has chipped away over time.
You can employ a pressure washer as well. Specialists such as Consumer Reports explain that a pressure washer uses gas or electrical power to pump highly pressurized water onto an area. The process is capable of removing any filth across the surface of an area, and it’s popularly used just for driveways or patios.
Once the gap is clean, you will need to measure the gap in order to determine how to fill it properly.
2. Apply Backer Rod
A backer rod is essential when the gap is too large, but the shape and material of the rod provide other benefits. It can help the sealant connect with either side of the gap by improving elasticity and making it easier to replace sealant in the future. Naturally, the rod will also keep you from using as much sealant.
So, you should now tuck the backer rod into the gap, and a putty knife might be helpful for this process. Typically, the backer rod will be placed between a quarter to half an inch beneath the surface of the gap.
This will usually leave enough room for the sealant itself. But different backer rods may have instructions that suggest various ideal depths.
3. Fill the Gap with Sealant
In order to apply the sealant, you will need a caulk gun. This is a tool that allows you to distribute large quantities of sealant without having to squeeze tubes by hand. There are also caulk cartridges available.
Typically, a squeeze tube is fastened into the caulk gun. Then, you continuously pull the large trigger so that a plunger pushes sealant out of the tube. You can check out this YouTube video for a clear overview of how caulk guns work:
Self-leveling caulk is more of a smooth, liquid type substance than ordinary caulk. As such, you likely won’t need to run two lines through the gap. Allow the caulk to get ahead of the caulk gun’s nozzle and fill in the joint completely.
Once the gap is full, you can use a caulk spatula to evenly press the caulk into the joint, which increases the adhesion. It will grip the sides better and fill the gap more effectively. Usually, only minimal dry tooling is needed for self-leveling sealant.
You can read the post “How Long Does It Take Caulk To Dry Before Painting?” to learn how long you should wait before you match your caulk with the driveway.
Can you caulk over existing caulk?
While it is technically possible to set a new layer of caulk on top of your old caulk, this is never a good idea. Existing caulk has already been weakened, and maybe developing serious problems such as water damage.
If you place a new level of caulk on top of a weathered foundation, then the fresh layer will lose its durability much more quickly. So although refusing to remove the existing caulk will save you time, it will certainly disrupt the performance of any future caulk in the long run.
Therefore, it is always ideal to remove the old caulk. This can be achieved by using commercially sold caulk remover or mineral spirits, depending on the material of the existing caulk. These substances would sit on the old caulk until you are able to scrape it away and clean the area, as in step one above.
Although the gap between a driveway and a garage is often overlooked, it is always beneficial to seal it. But it must be done properly, in order to have a lasting effect.
While the tools and materials for the process are very specific, it is relatively easy to seal the gap yourself. It may also be inexpensive. With the steps and materials listed above, it should be easier to approach the problematic gap and seal it effectively.