Handyman Help, Advanced – DIY Concrete Driveway

new neighborhood with concrete drivewaysTaking on a DIY concrete driveway project is challenging even for the most advanced DIY enthusiasts. Managing a concrete driveway project from start to finish takes patience, time, and persistence, but the benefits may be worth it. Concrete driveways are low maintenance, decrease erosion, create an additional space for children to play outdoors, and are easier to clean. Here is an outline of what goes into building your own concrete driveway.

Determine the path of your driveway. Consider how busy your street is; will you back in or back out; are there permanent trees or bushes on your property that cannot be removed; is your property on an incline; does it make sense to build a circular driveway instead of a straight one, etc.

Figure out your costs. Consider the amount of concrete you will need, reinforcement materials, the types of forms you will use, equipment that will be rented, and the cost of hiring extra hands to help out.

Check with local agencies about any necessary permits needed to proceed with the project.

Determine the soil-bearing characteristics of your site. Soft or loose soils may need amending to support your driveway. Consult a builder or engineer if you are unsure before proceeding because an unsteady base means the concrete will not settle properly into a secure soil foundation.

Use small wooden or metal stakes to lay out the sides of your driveway. When working outdoors in extreme cold, using a heater to keep workers safe from frostbite. The Mr. Heater Tank Top Heater from EquipSupply.com is perfect for outdoor construction projects such as this. Once you are confident the jobsite is safe, tie builder’s line to help you and your workers better visualize the driveway. Proceed to remove sod or any other vegetation located within the builder’s line. If your project required fill material, crushed stone or gravel is best for very cold climates as they will prevent cracks from forming and expanding due to precipitation.

Before adding fill or setting forms, find out if there are underground lines that require modifications. Next, install the forms for the driveway. Lumber is commonly used and anchored with wooden stakes to support the form boards. Driveways are usually set with at least four inches of concrete – thicker for properties with heavier vehicles or poor soil conditions. Grade the fill material or existing soil so that your concrete will be the correct thickness once you are ready to pour it.

Use a plate compactor or a hand tamp to compact the fill material and install reinforced steel if you want some extra security for your concrete. Plan the pour of the concrete with extreme care. If your driveway is big, and your budget allows for rental of a concrete truck, this is the best solution. Alternatively, use a wheelbarrow – which is very labor intensive, or hire a concrete pumping contractor to place the material.

Once the concrete is poured, use a broom to get the surface as flat as possible. Cure the concrete with a layer of plastic sheeting or by applying a curing compound. Once the driveway has been sufficiently cured, test it out by driving your car on it. To complete this intense DIY project, remove the forms and repair any landscaping as needed.