How To Build Concrete Driveway In 8 Easy Steps

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  • Anonymous

Jun 29, 2017

    Anonymous Jun 29, 2017

    “So much useful info here. Didn’t know about the fiber-infused concrete. Not having to mess with wire or rebar sounds great. Also wasn’t sure how deep the concrete needed to be to support a vehicle. “…” more

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Keep Forms Straight

Stretch a string between two screws installed at the edge of both ends of the form boards. The string will act as a guide to keep the form boards straight. Set the forms at the proper height before bringing in the last lift. That way you can use the forms themselves as a guide for the final base height.

Every concrete slab should have a minimum slope of 1/8-in. per foot to keep water from pooling. If the proper slope can’t be met down to the curb, angle the slab to one side or the other so the water runs off in the same direction as the natural grade of the yard.

What machines do I need to build a driveway?

Depending on the type of driveway you are building, you will typically need one or two of the following machines:

What is a driveway crossover?

A driveway crossover is the part of a driveway that connects the edge of the road pavement to the official boundary of a property, essentially the part of driveway that is on council land (over the footpath) between the road and the official boundary of your property. The driveway crossover requires any existing pavement that crosses over the planned driveway to be removed. A full slab driveway crossover is required, by most Councils, between the kerb and property boundary.

As you’ll need to meet Council’s standard conditions for your driveway crossover and gain written approval, it’s important to check with your local council for specific rules or conditions, as some councils have stricter or alternate rules or processes in place. In most States, the driveway crossover has to be graded appropriately to protect against storm water overflow from the road. In addition to this, must be designed in a way that prevents storm water from flowing into your neighbour’s property too. Furthermore, you are required to put up adequate signage, barrier protection and redirection measures if construction of the crossover obstructs traffic and or pedestrians.

Why Choose Concrete Over Asphalt

While concrete is more expensive than asphalt, it is incredibly hard-wearing, making it an excellent choice for homes enduring cold New England winters. Concrete is also very low-maintenance, and its smooth surface makes for easy snow removal. Concrete driveways can last anywhere from 15 to up to 50 years with proper care, while asphalt driveways last about 15 to 20 years.

Cut Stakes Flush

Cut the stakes off flush with the top of the form boards so they won’t get in the way of screeding when it’s time to pour. A reciprocating saw can rattle a form out of alignment. If you do use one, wait until all the stakes are in, and don’t use a super-aggressive blade. Also, make sure to knock down the grade near the forms so it won’t interfere with the screed board.

Installation

Although it is possible for a homeowner to pour a concrete driveway themselves, it is quite hard work. Time is a critical element because once the concrete is poured, it begins to harden very quickly. For this reason, it is usually left to professionals who can excavate, prepare forms, pour the concrete, and finish the surface quickly. A professional crew can do the entire project in a couple of days, while a homeowner takes usually a week or more for excavation and preparation alone, and another very long day for pouring and finishing. For the homeowner intrepid enough to pour his own concrete, having a group of willing and able-bodied helpers on hand is essential.

Installing a concrete driveway starts with removing grass and other vegetation and ensuring a stable soil foundation. Wood forms are then installed around the perimeter of the intended driveway. A base of class-5 gravel at least 4 inches thick is added, graded, and compacted. Reinforcement material is added just above the packed gravel base, consisting of a steel wire grid or metal rebar laid in a criss-cross pattern across the area.

The driveway is now ready for the concrete pour. This generally involves a crew of several people working quickly to fill the forms with wet concrete as it is delivered from a ready-mix vendor and then to quickly finish the surface. The finishing crew should also ensure an adequate number of expansion joints—grooves formed across the wet surface at prescribed intervals to allow the slab to shift and break at controlled places. Without expansion grooves, a slab can fragment randomly under the effect of natural settling and shifting.

A key part of the finishing process is floating the concrete. After the concrete is poured and smoothed, the finishing crew uses a variety of tools to work the surface of the concrete, drawing the cement and finer particles to the surface through capillary action to create an attractive, smoother surface. The amount of floating determined how smooth the surface will be, and there is considerable craft involved in doing so because excessive floating will weaken the surface and cause it to flake, while too little will leave the slab with a rough, industrial look. This is also the time when a skilled crew can impart decorative finishes and colors to the surface of the slab.

One of the most important parts of a concrete driveway installation begins after all of the above work is done—the curing. Concrete doesn't dry out; rather, it undergoes a slow chemical process that hardens and strengthens the material. It is very important that this curing process occurs under the best of circumstances. That begins with the weather. Ideal curing weather is about 70 degrees with a surface that is kept damp but not wet. In cool weather, curing will take longer. In hot weather, the surface should be dampened regularly with water to slow down the curing time.

Wait at least a week before driving on the new driveway, and at least a month before parking heavy vehicles on the driveway. Wait a month or two before sealing the concrete.

Best Driveway Paving Companies of 2022

The Best Time of Year to Pour Concrete

While it’s possible to mix and pour concrete nearly year-round, not all weather conditions are ideal for creating strong and crack-free concrete. Since concrete includes water in the mix, cold or hot temperatures can affect how the water acts during the chemical reactions that turn the mix into hard concrete.

During freezing conditions, the water in the mix can freeze and expand. The expansion can cause cracks, and the colder temperatures can slow the chemical reactions enough that the result is weak concrete.

When temperatures rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the water in the mix can evaporate. While this might sound like the goal for getting concrete to harden, it isn’t. The concrete mix needs that water to help the chemical curing process. Without enough water, concrete can shrink, weaken, and crack. If temperatures rise above 90 degrees, concrete can stiffen too quickly and “flash set.” Preparing the mix at a higher water-to-mix ratio may sound like a smart way to prevent this, but it can weaken the concrete, making it more likely to crack or flake over time.

Note: If you’ll be using the planned concrete project for heavy load-bearing, like a driveway or a base for a work shed, it might be wise to use wire mesh to help reinforce it. For thicker driveways that are about 6 or more inches deep, rebar could be used to help strengthen the slab. For projects like pouring concrete steps, rebar is needed.

For an ideal pour, work in temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or in early morning hours to avoid the afternoon heat.

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can i pour my own concrete driveway?

The basic steps for pouring a new concrete driveway are:

  1. Remove or demo the existing driveway (if needed)
  2. Design & Permits – Check with local building codes for permits & design specifications
  3. Excavation and gravel prep – install and compact gravel for the sub-base (the amount of gravel needed will vary depending on your conditions and climate.) 1 foot minimum gravel base.
  4. Install forms based on your design. Use 2×4's or 2×6's for straight forms and PVC boards for curves.
  5. Lay your reinforcement – Use 3/8" or 1/2" rebar and tie a mat 2 foot on center throughout the driveway then place bricks under it to hold it up in the middle of the concrete. Or use wire mesh.
  6. Calculate and order your concrete from the local ready mix concrete plant. (give them at least a weeks notice.)
  7. Pour the concrete level with the top of your forms, screed and bull float it smooth.
  8. Finishing the concrete – wait for the concrete to set up and use an edger to round the edges, mag float the surface, then drag a fine broom across the concrete to give it it's final finish/texture.
  9. Saw contraction joints in the concrete the next day to help prevent cracking.
  10. Seal the concrete to protect it.

To learn how to work with concrete and the basic skills needed to install your own concrete driveway, check out  my concrete training academy The Concrete Underground.

The correct concrete mix

Mix design will impact the performance and longevity of a concrete driveway. Read more about concrete driveway mix design to find out exactly what to ask for.

Driveway control joints can be incorporated into a decorative pattern.

Planning

The quality of the completed concrete driveway always begins with good planning. Spending time at this stage can help to eliminate possible problems later on in the construction process. One of the first things to consider is the size of the driveway.

As for thickness, non-reinforced pavement four incThe suggested width for a single-car driveway is eight to nine feet, 15 to 18 feet for double width. If the distance from the street to a two or more car garage is long enough, the initial entry approach can be of single-car width and then widened near the garage to accommodate all car stalls. If space is available, extra parking or a turn-around area can be included. Also, the planning stage is the time to consider adding that concrete patio or porch addition.

As for thickness, non-reinforced pavement four inches thick is standard for passenger car driveways. For heavier vehicles, a thickness of five inches is recommended. To eliminate standing water, the driveway should be sloped towards the street a minimum of one percent, or 1/8 inch per foot, for proper drainage.

Today’s concrete can be formed into practically any shape, texture, pattern, or color. It is a way of adding a new dimension of quality and elegance to your home, at a reasonable cost.

Pattern stamping is an colorful way to enhance ordinary concrete paving. Essentially, the driveway is cast-in-place concrete which has been colored and imprinted with a pattern designed to look like brick, tile, cobblestone, or other various patterns. Textured finishes include bromide, swirl, or exposed aggregate.

Proper curing techniques

Cure the concrete as soon as finishing is completed. Curing of the concrete is the final step of the process, and one of the most important. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most neglected. In extreme cases, failure to cure the concrete immediately after final finishing can result in strength reductions of up to 50% by reducing the concrete’s resistance to the effects of weather and increasing the possibility of surface defects.

Methods of curing include covering the concrete with plastic sheets or wet curing blankets, continuous sprinkling, and application of a liquid membrane-forming curing compound. For slabs that are to be acid stained, wet curing is the best approach, since a curing compound would have to be completely removed to allow the acid stain to penetrate. The most common way to cure plain or integrally colored concrete, though, is to use a liquid curing compound. Read more about why curing concrete is important and how it’s done.

Related Information:Resurfacing old concrete driveways

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