When you build a concrete driveway you make a permanent addition to your home that can improve its looks and increase its value. Doing it yourself is a daunting task, but by following the steps below and by paying attention to sound construction practices it can be a successful and rewarding process.

Preparation:

  • Check with your local authority if any building requirements must be adhered to when laying a concrete driveway in your area.
  • Locate any underground utilities – water mains, power and phone lines etc.
  • Decide on the dimensions of your driveway and draw a scale plan. Generally, a residential driveway should be at least 2.5 metres wide.
  • Consider the grade of the driveway and what drainage solutions it may require.
  • Determine the soil characteristics of the site. Loose or sandy soils may need augmenting with clay or gravel to provide a stable base on which to build a concrete driveway.
  • Calculate quantities of materials. You’ll need concrete, wood for boxing, reinforcing material, tools and equipment and, possibly, sub-base aggregate.

Construction:

  • Mark out the site on which you are going to build your concrete driveway using lines of small stakes and string. These string lines will guide the outline of your driveway and serve as a reference against which to measure its grade.
  • Excavate the site to a depth that will produce the required grade and accommodate any sub-base material plus the thickness of the concrete.
  • Thoroughly compact the excavated ground with a powered plate compactor. A stable, compacted base is essential to the sound construction of a driveway.
  • Lay your sub-base aggregate and compact it thoroughly, ensuring that the surface is smooth and without dips or bulges. Though sub-base is not always needed when building a driveway, it provides superior drainage and support and is particularly useful in damper or softer areas.
  • Set out the wooden boxing that will hold the concrete in as place as it dries and anchor in place with stakes. Remember to make provision for expansion joints, these are necessary to prevent uncontrolled cracking as the concrete expands and contracts.
  • To increase the strength of your driveway lay reinforcing material within the boxing – typically, a mat of steel reinforcing bars.
  • Pour your concrete, spread evenly with a rake, and refine down to a semi-smooth surface with a screeding beam. As with the sub-base material, to build a driveway that does not collect rainwater it is essential you achieve a flat, even surface.
  • Wait until any bleed water disappears from the surface, then smooth the concrete with a trowel or magnesium hand float.
  • To create a non-slip texture drag a broom laterally across the concrete after trowelling.
  • Cover your driveway with plastic sheeting to prevent it drying too rapidly and allow to cure for 7 days before removing the wooden boxing.

Following these guidelines will help you navigate the pitfalls involved in one of the most demanding of DIY undertakings and ensure success when you set out to build a concrete driveway.

How to Build a Concrete Driveway, 2.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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