In this guide, we will explain how to easily manage smaller concrete projects around your house. This will save you money for a professional contractor and will leave you with a proud feeling of a job well done. To achieve the best results however, careful planning and preparation is necessary.
Step 1 : Make a Plan
Depending on your location, you may need a permit from local authorities to start building a new concrete driveway, pathway etc. Check your city’s website or homeowner’s association about the requirements and limitations.
Plan your driveways width and length depending on how many cars will be parking there and whether or not you will need space to turn around. Concrete is usually sold in cubic yards, so you will need to calculate, how much material you will need, based on your measurements.
To keep the concrete from spilling out before it hardens, it is necessary to build a wooden form and reinforce it with stakes.
Other materials that are also needed for such project are: gravel for the base, membrane sheeting, and rebar or mesh wire. You will also need certain tools like trowel, mixing containers or wheelbarrows, broom and a level.
Step 2: Preparation
As concrete is heavy, a firm, solid base is needed to support it. If your soil base is too loose, add clay to firm it up. If it’s too loamy, add gravel and sand and then level it off. You will need to compact your base, whether you added any material or not.
Next step is to lay out the shape of your driveway. You can do this by driving small metal or wooden stakes into the ground and then simply tying a string in between them. Make sure the length and width are corresponding with your planned measurements.
Step 3: Building the forms and compacting the base
Lumber (1×4 inches) is typically used to build these forms, and screwing them with a power drill, makes the assembly and disassembly very easy. Place some supporting stakes every 3 feet or so to make sure the form holds its shape. These stakes support the lumber in the up right position.
Check the level of your soil and if needed, add some gravel or crushed stone to even it out. Compactor tools can be rented from your local tool rental yard, in case you don’t have your own. If these are unavailable to you, you can use a hand tamp. The important thing is, that the soil has to be hard enough to carry the heavy weight of the concrete. Last point in this step would be to install wire mesh or rebars should you choose to. This stage is optional, but highly recommended as the wire will redistribute the weight of your car(s) and will significantly increase the strength of your driveway.
Step 4: Pouring and curing of the concrete
Pour the concrete mix from the wheelbarrow or truck onto the driveway. You need to be able to do this fairly quickly, so consider calling or hiring other helping hands to aid you. Then flatten or level the concrete by screeding the surface. Please note that level driveway is not always desired, as it may be sloped, but it should always be flat. This will prevent water from pooling on the surface.
Another important step is to create contraction joints, as concrete contracts as it dries. These should be about 1 inch deep and they should be spaced evenly every 3-4 feet or so to make the driveway look uniform. Once again, you have to be able to do this fairly quickly, before the concrete dries too much.
Another optional, but recommended step is to add a texture to the wet concrete to give your car tires something to grip onto in wet conditions. Simple broom or burlap cloth can be used to create a brushed pattern on your driveway. If your driveway is sloped, make sure to drag the broom in the direction of the water flow.
Curing of the concrete is done by pouring a special chemical curing compound or laying plastic sheeting on top of your driveway. This creates a moisture barrier and prevents the concrete from drying out too quickly. This process takes at least 3 days, so make sure you protect your driveway from extreme weather conditions and you do not park your car there just yet. You should also keep the wooden form in place for the duration of the curing process.
After the 3 days, park your car on your driveway, and look for any possible cracks. These should be repaired as soon as possible.
Concrete driveways last a very long time and require very little maintenance compared to some other driveway options out there. It might be costly, depending on the scale of your project, but laying your own concrete driveway can be a rewarding experience for anyone, who isn’t afraid of a challenge. These days the concrete driveways don’t have to be just grey and boring anymore. The market offers many different colours and finishes for your concrete driveway as you can see in guide.