How to Pour Concrete for a Driveway

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Your driveway serves not only as the entrance to your garage, it draws a visual line to your home, and is often the first thing your guests will see when visiting. Because most driveways require large amounts of concrete, pouring them is a job for the professionals. Preliminary work and planning will make the driveway-pouring project successful.

Things You'll Need

  • Excavating equipment
  • Dimensional lumber
  • Concrete rakes
  • Shovels
  • Screed
  • Bull float
  • Power trowel
  • Visit your local building authority for a permit and information about driveway codes in your community. These codes will determine the minimum thickness of your driveway, the distance from your home or your property line and the amount of steel reinforcement needed.

  • Call your local utility companies to locate any buried utility lines, pipes or cables in your yard. Avoid locating your new driveway over buried lines, if possible.

  • Frame your driveway. Framing involves excavating the soil to a depth of not less than 5 inches and building side forms that will serve to hold the wet concrete in place until it hardens.

  • Spread a layer of sand to a depth of approximately 1 inch at the bottom of the driveway form. Sand adds compaction and reduces future movement to prevent cracks in the finished driveway.

  • Add steel reinforcement to the pour. Place steel rebar rods and steel mesh in the bottom of the pour, held a couple of inches above the sand base with plastic rebar chairs that remain in place during the pour.

  • Determine your concrete needs before calling the concrete company. Wet concrete sells by the cubic yard. One cubic yard equals a concrete slab 9 foot long by 9 foot wide at a thickness of 4 inches. Online concrete calculators take the pain out of figuring.

  • Recruit at least one knowledgeable concrete worker to oversee the project and numerous strong assistants. Each worker should know his job before the concrete truck arrives. Once the concrete is in the forms, the workers must work very quickly to shape and smooth the driveway before the concrete hardens.

  • Direct the truck to the highest point of the driveway and begin the pour there. It’s easier to smooth concrete downwards than upwards. One person will direct the truck and the driver, letting him know when to pull forward and when to stop dumping to allow the workers to spread and smooth the wet concrete.

  • Smooth the surface of the concrete with a concrete screed, available from construction rental stores. The screed is a long board that vibrates as the workers pull it over the top of the wet concrete. After screeding, workers will fine-tune the surface by pulling a bull float back and forth until the concrete is flat. A bull float is a large rectangular aluminum plate on an extension pole.

  • Finish the concrete when it begins to harden with a power trowel, a motorized tool with rotating blades that lightly beats the top of the curing concrete to provide a strong surface.

  • Let it cure. After all the hard work, your new driveway needs to harden until the moisture evaporates. If the day is very hot, you may lightly spray the concrete every hour to prevent the surface from drying too quickly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wait two weeks before driving a car on a new driveway to allow it to cure.
  • Don’t pour a driveway by yourself unless you are experienced in working with concrete.

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