Today’s post-long weekend article will offer tips and basic instructions on how to install a concrete driveway for your business or home.

Why concrete you may be asking? Well it handles traffic better than asphalt and is easier to install than pavers. Besides, it is hard to improve on a material that has been in constant use for 2,000 years or more.

Follow These Basic Steps and Before You Know It the New Concrete Driveway Will Be Finished

1. Form A Plan
For a single car, you will need a minimum of 2.5 meters but 3 to 4 meters might be better. Also, you will want to take into consideration any existing structures or vegetation that you want to keep. Perhaps you are looking to add some trees and bushes to spruce up the driveway, better plan for those as well. Some people like at add lights or even heated driveways to save them from clearing snow during the winter. Point is, now id the time for planning.

2. What Is the Soil Like
Soil is soil, right? Wrong. You are going to need to review a soil survey for your property to check the suitability of the ground for your new driveway. Depending upon what you learn you may or may not need to bring in some other material to improve your base to ensure you have the best ground in which to pour your new driveway.

3. Call Before You Dig
We have all seen and heard those messages about finding out if there are any utilities buried before you dig in your yard. Well it is good advice, could save you a lot of money and future hassle. If there are any, like water mains with shut off valves, you certainly wouldn’t want to pour concrete over those. You may need to relocate or put in some special access ports. Some people are also adding ground level LED lighting to their driveways as accents. Those would need some special considerations as well.

4. Figure the Costs
Not only do you have to consider the costs of base material for drainage purposes but then there is the cost of the concrete, reinforcement materials such as which type of rebar you plan on using, rental tools if you don’t already have the necessary equipment to complete the job. Oh, and let’s not forget the cost of labor whether that is in the form of pizza and beers for your weekend warrior buddies who help or the wages for a professional crew. Everybody has got to be paid in one form or another.

5. You Can’t Forget About Permits and Inspections
There is nothing worse than going through all that work and expense just to find out that it all must be ripped up and disposed of because you didn’t submit the proper paperwork with the city. Don’t risk it, it just isn’t worth it because of some jealous neighbor filing a complaint about your pretty, new driveway.

6. Stake It Out and String It Up
This important step helps you to not only visualize how your driveway will space out but doing so will determine just where you will need to add or remove materials.

7. Clear the Way
Most of the time you are going to need to clear the path for your new driveway by removing sod, topsoil, or even the old driveway. If you are putting in a short driveway you can probably do this by hand which saves you some money but, using some rental equipment will speed the process and possibly save some backaches. The time and pain you save is probably a good trade off for the extra money the professional equipment costs.

8. Add Base Material and Compact It
Here you have two choices; rent a plate compactor or use a hand tamp to compress the base material down into the ground to settle it. The plate compactor would be faster but the hand tamp would be cheaper.

9. Build the Forms and Rebar Skeleton
For a driveway, the forms are pretty simple; some heavy wooden stakes holding some ¾” plywood or even some 2X6 planks in place. Make sure that the stakes are driven far enough into the ground, and spaced far enough apart, to ensure that the weight of the concrete doesn’t displace the forms.

Depending upon the thickness of the driveway you may want to use some spacers to lift the rebar lattice up off the ground. For smaller slabs of concrete that isn’t too thick most people just lay their rebar skeleton right on the ground. Regardless, you will need to lay the rebar out in a grid and then tie the rebar together with wire. To make it easier to determine just how much rebar you need to complete your driveway and how far to space the rebar, you might find it helpful to use a rebar calculator

10. Plan and Complete the Pour
Save yourself from a bigger mess than there has to be by starting your pour in the hardest area to access first. Doing so will prevent you from slogging your way through wet cement to complete your pour.

11. Applying A Finish to the Surface
One of the more popular finishes to driveways and sidewalks is to drag a rough, or concrete broom, across the surface of the concrete. Doing this finish roughs up the surface giving better traction for whatever uses the slabs of concrete. You are also going to need to cut in expansion joints every 2.5 meters or so. If you live in a particularly hot and dry region you may want to apply a light misting to help regulate the curing time.

12. Removing the Forms
Depending upon the temperature, forms can be removed after 48 hours within a range of 18 to 23 Celsius. If it is a little cooler than that you might want to wait a little longer. If you are unsure you can always contact your local ready-mix supplier, they will have a better idea on just how long to wait.

After reading this post you feel that the job of installing a concrete driveway yourself is a little more than you bargained for, C&J Reinforcing Steel LTD can certainly help with the installation of rebar. We can even suggest some local construction companies with the aspects of the project.