The Ultimate Guide to Installing a Concrete Driveway – A Step-By-Step Approach
Once the excavation has been completed and the forms are in place, it’s time to pour the concrete. Begin by distributing the concrete evenly within the forms.
Use a screed to level the concrete and fill in low spots. Once the concrete is even, you can use a bull float to smooth the surface and create a professional finish.
The first step in installing a concrete driveway is to prepare the site. This includes removing existing pavement, grading the site to ensure proper drainage, and building forms that will hold the concrete. The formwork can be made from wood boards or wooden stakes, depending on the size and complexity of the job.
Once the formwork is in place, a roadbase layer is laid over it. Then, the concrete is poured. For concrete to be as strong as possible, it must be reinforced. Reinforcement can be done using rebar or heavy-duty mesh wire.
Before the concrete sets, control joints are cut into it. These help the concrete expand and contract as it cures, reducing the likelihood of cracking. An isolation joint should also be installed where the driveway abuts a sidewalk or other slab. Doing this as early as possible is important since the concrete will take 28 days to reach full strength.
Once you’ve planned out the shape and dimensions of your driveway, stakes are driven into the ground at each corner to mark the final outline. These are then used to hold the formwork as concrete is poured. Using forms helps ensure the concrete pour is consistent and accurate, which is especially important for a project as large as a concrete driveway.
Before pouring, a class-5 gravel base at least 4 inches thick is spread and graded for strength. If you live in a cold climate or will be parking heavy vehicles on the driveway, this layer may need to be thicker.
Mix the concrete according to the manufacturer’s instructions and bring it to the area where the forms are located in a wheelbarrow or concrete mixer. Then, pour the concrete into the forms, ensuring it’s evenly distributed and level with the top of the forms. Using rebar or mesh to reinforce the concrete should be placed on the slab’s surface before it’s poured.
Once the area is prepared and forms are set, pouring the concrete is time. This can be done by mixing plain concrete at a concrete plant and bringing it to the driveway site or pouring ready-mix concrete directly from a truck into the forms.
The concrete should be poured evenly and screeded to create an even surface. If you have a curved drive, it may be necessary to use rebar or wire mesh to reinforce the concrete. This is particularly important if your concrete supports heavy vehicles’ weight.
Concrete cracks naturally, so your contractor should cut control joints to minimize random cracking. These control joints should be placed a maximum of 10 feet apart for a four-inch thick concrete slab. They should also be sawed to a depth equaling one-fourth the slab thickness. This will allow the concrete to expand and contract without cracking, increasing its lifespan.
Once the concrete is poured, it needs time to cure. This requires a process that involves a chemical reaction within the material to strengthen and harden it. During this period, the concrete is extremely vulnerable to rain and other precipitation damage, including road salt, which can rust the reinforcing steel rods and cause it to crack.
While this isn’t a problem for most homeowners, it’s something to remember when choosing a contractor. While some techniques and materials can decrease cracking in concrete, the truth is that there is little chance of preventing it altogether.
Once the concrete is cured, it’s time to finish the job. A magnesium bullfloat clears the concrete and removes any bleeding water. It’s also necessary to cut contraction joints in the concrete, usually every four feet or so. These aim to control the concrete’s expansion and contraction as it dries.