Building a concrete driveway that will serve you for years without cracking, decrease erosion, and help keep your car and compound clean is one of the most rewarding projects you can undertake to improve your home.
Here’s a quick but thorough guide to building your concrete driveway the right way:
1. Make a Plan & Calculate Cost
This is how you will figure out the best way to make your driveway long-lasting, good to look at, and most importantly, functional for you.
Consider the following as you plan: Where will cars be turning as they come into your driveway? Is the ground sloped in any way? Are there any obstructions to be removed or that will need you to go around? Is your project allowed by local authorities in your area? Answer these questions as you plan out your project and you should be all set.
It’s important to know how much the job will cost from beginning to end. Consider the cost of concrete, reinforcing materials, forms, gravel, re-bar, and any other labor or equipment costs you might incur.
2. Outline the Edges
Plant little stakes (metal or wood) at the mouth of your driveway (where it meets the street) and where it begins. By tying lengths of string between these stakes, you will get a visual representation of the path your driveway will take once finished.
3. Set Up Your Forms
These are usually 2×4 lengths of lumber supported by stakes to keep them straightly aligned and prevent them from tilting. These supports must be sturdily planted into the ground (use a sledgehammer) as they will be supporting a lot of weight once your concrete is poured.
4. Grade Your Driveway
This means measuring the thickness of your proposed slab. 4 inches is a standard width, but plan for a little more thickness if heavy vehicles will be coming in. To give your driveway additional protection against the possibility of cracking, you can thicken or deepen the edges of your driveway by another 4 inches.
5. Compact the Base Material
The soil underneath will be supporting your concrete driveway so it needs to be as rigid as you can make it. You will do this by using either a hand tamp, a plate compactor, or by simply driving a car multiple times over the area. Sprinkle a little water on the area beforehand to make this process easier.
6. Put in Reinforcements
Should you wish to maximize he durability and resistance to cracking of your planned driveway, laying down a mat of reinforcing steel is a good way to do so. Ask for 6×6 welded wire or number 4 re-bar on 12 inch centers at your local hardware supplier for this.
7. Carefully Plan for Your Concrete Pour
You will need access to a concrete pump, a helping hand, and proper tools for your pour. Using a wheelbarrow for the concrete required here is very labor-intensive, so think about renting a sizable concrete pump or mechanized wheelbarrow to get the concrete into your forms.
8. Finish Off The Slab
This entails getting your slab’s surface as flat as you can get it so that spots of standing water (aka bird baths) don’t develop. Remember that your driveway should be a bit rough so that car tires can get sufficient traction on them. Run a broom along the slab while it’s still wet to rough up the surface texture a little.
9. Cure Your Driveway & Test!
Place some plastic sheeting or apply any available curing chemical compound onto the surface of your concrete. This will keep your concrete from losing moisture too rapidly, which allows it to develop to its maximum strength and cracking resistance levels.
After giving it a minimum of four days to cure completely, drive along your driveway with your vehicle to try out its usability. It should be just fine. Your driveway is now complete. All that’s left for you to do is remove the forms alongside it, repair the minimal damage to the surrounding lawn, and you’re done.