Driveway Lessons

Tuesday morning, common sense prevailed and I went out and bought more crack filler to do the job right. I could definitely see the difference between the cracks I filled properly and the ones that only got the liquid/spoiled sealant treatment. My dad’s voice echoed in my head: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing it right.” Or, the adult version that he starting preaching when I hit college: “Don’t do a half-assed job.”

So I sealed the remaining cracks thoroughly and made sure that everything was nice and solid before leaving it to set overnight. (And then we took a road trip to Aurora for dessert at the new Sonic – and discovered a TWO HOUR WAIT that filled several nearby parking lots. It’s fast food, people! Needless to say, we didn’t wait.)

Originally, I had naively planned to do the whole driveway process myself, including the sealcoating. After all, my dad has always done the family driveway by himself, and it’s twice as big as mine. But since Don had Wednesday off, we decided to knock it out together and (theoretically) get done twice as quickly.

Ha! Needless to say, it took much longer than we anticipated, and it took awhile to really understand the tips Dad had given us. For example, he recommended misting the section of driveway first to make it easier to spread the goop. However, working mid-day on a hot, sunny day, we were breaking off bigger sections than we could handle, and the sun was evaporating our thin coating of water before we finished the area.

Other lessons we learned:

1) Sweeping is really really important. In the future, we’ll do a heavy-duty driveway cleaning the day before rather than the sweep-as-we-go the day of. We did a pretty good job scooping up all the stray leaves and twigs, but I didn’t realize just how much dust and general dirt had gathered along the edges. Heck, powerwashing may be in order.

2) Edging with an old paintbrush was pretty effective and important, especially up along the house. I discovered that previous owners hadn’t edged all the way up to the grass line in the yard.

3) After struggling all morning with the crappy old broom we had designated for the assignment, I discovered an older, crappier broom in the closet and brought it out to help after I finished sweeping and edging. This “midget broom” (so dubbed since half the handle was missing, hence its banishment) had much softer bristles and proved infinitely easier to work with and spread evenly. The softer bristles didn’t hold the sealant as well, so they were more effective for spreading. The sealant really stuck to the coarser bristles, making it tough to spread.

4) The squeegee was useless. My dad had recommended a broom, and the pail said either a broom or a squeegee would do the trick. We figured we could reuse the squeegee for any future basement-water issues, but it really didn’t do much for the driveway.

5) Rather than hoisting (and pouring from) the big 5-gallon pail, we used an old cool-whip container to scoop out a smaller, more manageable amount.

6) The water helped greatly, once we figured out to work with sections about 8 ft by 8 ft at a time (using the fenceposts as a guide). But we had to be careful not to overwater, especially in some of the lower areas of the driveway prone to standing water – actually, this was the one area we found the squeegee useful!

7) Make sure you leave an open entry path back to the house. Fortunately, as we were closing in on the back door, we realized this could be an issue, so we unlocked the front door.

8) Barricading the end of the driveway is not enough, at least on our block! Not ten minutes after “finishing” for the day and roping off the end of the driveway with garbage cans, the kids next door came tearing across the driveway at top speed. (They live on one side; their grandparents live on the other side of us. Both parents and grandparents constantly admonish them to use the sidewalk rather than our yard, but kids will be kids. Ack, the inner curmudgeon awakens!)

The end of the driveway looks better than the first sections we did, as we figured out the better way to do things. We may go back and touch up some of those areas since we still have some sealant. Either way, it looks infinitely better and about 8 shades blacker than before.

Now I just need to touch up the foundation where I splattered a bit… luckily, since the fence project is looming, I can ignore the flecks there!

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