Laying a concrete driveway is one of those often undertaken DIY tasks that many people think seems fairly easy until they have a go themselves and find it’s not quite as simple as it seems.
If you’ve never worked with concrete before we’d strongly advise you get a professional in to help or to research the area thoroughly before you start.
Laying a concrete driveway takes a great deal of preparation …
So we’ve put together a few helpful do’s and don’ts to get you started.
Concrete is not the easiest material to work with. It needs to be mixed to just the right consistency otherwise the mix may be too weak or you may struggle to get a good finish. Concrete also begins to harden after about two hours, and then becomes unworkable so unless you move quickly you’ll find the job impossible.
Do – Plan ahead …
Before doing anything else, you need to estimate the amount of concrete you will need for the job.
On average one yard of concrete will cover 54 square feet of surface. If you’ve never mixed concrete before, you may be better off getting a ready mix delivered which will save you a great deal of time and hassle.
You may also need to go contact your local town/city authorities and find out if there are any rules and regulations that might effect your project as it’s pointless starting any work without knowing what guidelines you can work under.
Once you’ve done this you need to take stock of the area you will be excavating. Will you need heavy machinery? Is there obstacles such as tree’s in the way that need to be taken down? These are all things you need to consider before you start laying the driveway.
Do – Make sure you’ve got a properly prepared subgrade …
Without a stable foundation, a concrete driveway can’t be expected to hold up for very long.
All topsoil, roots, large rocks and vegetation should be removed from the area where the driveway is to be placed before you can start laying any concrete. You then need to prepare the subgrade by making sure you’ve got the right kind of soil and ensuring that it’s compacted enough to support the drive.
In some cases you may also need to lay a subbase which is an extra layer of gravel above the subgrade to add additional support.
Don’t – make the finish to smooth …
If you’ve never finished concrete before, we’d advise that you seek help from a professional.
A lot of people think that they can just smooth over the concrete and it will be fine, however this is far from the case.
Concrete often needs to be floated to remove surface imperfections. It also needs to be edged and grooved. One of the most common mistakes people make when finishing a drive is to over-finish it which can be potentially hazardous in the winter when it gets slippery.
A concrete driveway should be slightly rough to give better traction in wet conditions.
A good way to achieve this is to drag a broom across the partially hardened concrete which helps give it a rough texture.
Don’t – forget to cure the concrete on completion …
Curing the concrete is the final step of the process, and one of the most important.
Unfortunately, it’s often one of the most neglected. Failure to cure concrete properly can result in strength reductions of up to 50% as it can reduce it’s resistance to the effects of weather and increases the possibility of surface defects.
A liquid curing compound is often used on concrete or sometimes simply covering the area with wet sheets on completion.
Obviously, if you need any further advice please don’t hesitate to give us a call.