HOW TO POUR A CONCRETE DRIVEWAY
It is simple to pour and build a concrete driveway. Concrete is relatively simple to work with on a small scale, but installing an entire driveway can be difficult.
You can construct an attractive concrete driveway on your own, but planning and preparation are considered necessary. Place all the concrete at once; a large driveway can be broken down into smaller, more manageable sections using 2x4s.
Construct and install forms, ensuring they are level and appropriately graded for drainage. To prevent the formation of rain puddles, design a 2% slope (every 10 feet long will drop 2.5 inches). Place and level a 4-to-6-inch layer of gravel; a gravel base is required in areas with poor drainage or freezing temperatures. Make sure to compact the gravel base and rent a compacting machine if necessary.
Install isolation-joint strips where the driveway will meet an existing concrete slab or sidewalk. Attach the strips flush to the top of an existing slab using construction adhesive or concrete nails.
Concrete driveway thickness
Check the thickness of the gravel with a homemade template that extends 4 inches down from the tops of the forms of the finished driveway; if it just reaches the top of the gravel, the base is thick enough. A thicker slab will be stronger; we recommend a driveway thickness greater than 4 inches. Allow the gravel to extend beneath the forms' edges.
Pouring a concrete driveway
Wet the gravel thoroughly. Begin placing concrete in one corner of the form while a helper spreads it with a shovel or hoe.
Pour the concrete into the form and use a square shovel or mortar hoe to compact it into all corners; when you're using a mortar hoe, push the concrete rather than dragging it. However, do not overwork the concrete or spread it too far; overworking will push the heavier aggregate to the bottom of the slab and bring up little particles that might cause problems in the finished DIY concrete driveway. Instead, evenly space your placement along the form, placing each batch against the previous batch to fill the form.
If you want to keep the dividers in place, finish and cure the concrete in alternating sections. Remove the stakes inside the remaining sections (black squares) once they have cured for at least three days.
Striking the concrete
To level the concrete:
Two persons will make the task more efficient and faster, even on narrow forms. To save time, a third worker can shovel extra concrete into any corners if necessary.
Smoothing concrete driveway surface
After striking off, use a bull float or darby for the initial finishing, smoothing out high places and filling small hollows left by striking off.
Use darby for small DIY concrete jobs. Move it in overlapping arcs first, then in straight, side-to-side strokes. Keep the tool flat and avoid allowing it to dig in. Use a bull float for larger jobs. Push it away from you, slightly raising its leading edge. Pull it almost flat and overlap your passes.
Curving the edge of your DIY concrete driveway or sidewalk will help it resist chipping and prevent stub-toes or tripping incidents. Begin by edging the cement with a mason's trowel between the concrete and the outer edges of the slab form (above-inset). Then use an edger (above-right)—smooth and compact the concrete by running it back and forth. If the tool does not have a toboggan end, raise the leading edge slightly as you move it.
Jointing concrete for controlled cracks
Large concrete slabs will crack. To control driveway cracks, set joints with a 1" deep jointer and a straight guide board to make control joints. Kneel on a board to get to the middle of a wide slab. Control joints can be made at about 1.5x the width of the slab, but the distance between them should not exceed 30x the thickness of the driveway- 10' for a 4" thick slab.
Reduce the maximum control joint spacing for a 4" slab to 8' for concrete built with 3/4" coarse aggregate. Jointed sections should never be longer than 1.5 times their width. BONUS TIP: It is preferable to have more joints than fewer joints to minimize cracking.
Mark the joint by measuring along the shapes and marking them with a pencil. Floating, which comes next, can be used to remove any edging or jointing marks.
Floating and troweling concrete
Now comes the exciting part of working with ready mix cement (well, we think floating concrete is exciting.) Float either a wood float or a magnesium hand float after the water sheen has disappeared from the concrete but before the surface has become too stiff—the latter results in a smoother surface.
Use a magnesium float with air-entrained concrete; a wood float can tear the driveway surface. Hold the tool flat on the surface with both types of float. Kneel on boards again to reach the middle of a huge slab, then finish over the board marks as you work backward.
Drying concrete: curing the driveway
To prevent the surfaces of concrete slabs from drying out too soon, they must be moist cured. If the surface dries too quickly, it becomes weak and may become powdery or crumble away. Keep your concrete wet to cure it. Wet the slab and cover it with burlap, sand, straw, or other material. Wet it down as needed until the curing process is complete.
Another way is to use plastic sheeting or a commercial curing compound. Water that evaporates from the slab will be trapped, eliminating the need for wetting.
Whatever method you use, curing should last at least three days—longer in cold weather—but it's better to let the slab cure for a week to be safe. Do not walk on it for at least 3-4 days, and do not drive a vehicle for at least ten days.
Concrete Driveway Replacement
If your driveway is old or beyond repair, it may be time to replace it. Contact Lincoln Concrete and Paving for a concrete driveway replacement quote in Lincoln, NE.