The Right Way To Prepare For A Concrete Driveway

A concrete driveway improves the aesthetics of your home from the outside and it also prevents land erosion. Moreover it also keeps your cars and garage clean. Installing a concrete driveway takes proper planning and preparation before any masonry work, whether it is a DIY project or you hire a contractor, to prevent any problems during the lay and also to help save money.

The site of the concrete pour requires thorough preparation so that the concrete can form properly. Long term lack of preparation can cause the concrete to shift or crack, which will then require a costly replacement job.

Once you know how much concrete you need, you can place an order with a local concrete supplier, but this is just the first step. Make sure to get an exact date and time of delivery so that you can properly prepare your land for the concrete pour a few days before it.

If you are tackling it as a DIY project, then you’ll have to mix the concrete yourself from raw materials, so you need to buy, hire or borrow a cement mixer. Otherwise concrete prep can be included in a package when you purchase concrete from a professional company.

Prepare the Tools and Site

A concrete driveway has to be installed on solid, stable soil or else it will fail over time, cutting down the life span of your concrete driveway.  To lengthen the life span of your concrete driveway, you may have to excavate and add base material to unstable soil in order to stabilize it. Whether you need base to be installed totally depends on the type of soil in the region you live in and specifically in the area where the concrete driveway has to be installed.

Mark out the path of your concrete driveway by pounding wood stakes at 4-foot intervals along the border. You can then prepare the ground where you want your concrete to be poured by removing whatever is on the top layer of the soil. It may be anything from an old drive, grass or just dirt, but you will need to dig down about 10cm so that the concrete poured can just be somewhat above ground level. Where the soil is unstable, you might have to excavate another 10cm then fill it with crushed and leveled hardcore. Ensure there is enough room by the stakes to set the forms on.

Use shovels and rakes to make sure there are no weeds, large rocks and stones left within the area. Then add the forms, fill in the area with at least 4 inches of fill sand, stone or gravel and wire-mesh reinforcement as a solid base for the concrete. The newly laid stone or sand must be well compacted using a hand tamper so that the concrete does not begin to crack as it settles. Also lay down a damp-proof membrane to prevent the wet concrete from drying out too soon, and also to protect it from any chemicals present in the base or sub-base.

Get the Concrete Down

Put down 1/2-inch steel rebar in a grid of squares and then place small concrete blocks to secure the rebar at each joint and lift it off the gravel. Twist wires over the junctions to stop the rebar from moving. Use wooden forms as needed, nailed to the stakes but just make sure they are level before pouring concrete.

Just before the actual pouring of concrete, dampen the ground lightly within your form. And use a spray or brush to apply release oil on the forms so that they can be removed easily later.

Then mix up the concrete following the manufacturer’s instructions and level it off with a spade or strong rake to begin with, before tamping it down.

You can use a timber with a straight edge to tap down on the surface of the drive across its width from one end to the other. This ensures that the concrete is spread evenly along the drive and it is level. Tamping also helps bed-down the concrete firmly onto the aggregate in the base.

The size of your concrete form will determine the size of your concrete slab. Even specially shaped concrete forms or designs can be installed, other than a square or rectangle.

Be Attentive When Finishing

Once concrete begins to cure, it is often finished with mechanical smoothing machines.  But for residential driveways it’s probably best left well tamped and then finished with a course brush for stoking parallel to the driveway, which results in grooves forming. This helps with drainage and provides grip on the concrete surface when wet.

During the curing process, it needs to be checked after 10-12 hours so that you can fix any minor flaws before it hardens completely.

Driveway Ready

Leave it for up to three days, before removing the shuttering away from the edges. Be careful when removing it to avoid damaging the edges. Keep everything off the driveway for the first couple of days, and cars should not be allowed on the drive for at least five days. Then your driveway is ready for use. Contact the experts at Davis Concrete to get a quote for installation or repair of your concrete driveway.

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