Cement driveways are low maintenance, permanent additions to a house that can enhance the way it looks and give your children a safe place to ride their bikes and scooters.
Moreover, it decreases erosion and makes keeping your car clean a lot easier. Building a cement driveway may seem like a costly and labour-intensive task. Let us tell you something it is not! Keep some rules and instructions in mind – it is a simple, easy, and rewarding DIY project. We will teach you all the tricks on how to build a cement driveway here. Excited? Let’s get started!
How to Build a Cement Driveway
A driveway is the first thing someone sees when visiting your place. You can make it from concrete slabs, bricks, asphalt, gravel and so on. And afterwards, there are so many ideas to upgrade it and make it more welcome. However, a cement driveway is probably the easiest way to make a significant difference in landscaping and boost your property. Here’s a step-by-step guide to building your cement driveway.
Things you will need
- Driveway Permit
- Cement/ Ready-mixed concrete
- Pinewood Boards
- Wooden/Metal Stakes
- Road Base (Mixture of Gravel and Granite)
- Soil Compactor
- Zip Strips (Plastic or Wood)
- Burlap Sack
- Plastic Sheet
- Chemical Curing Product
- Control Joints
- Tape Measure
1. Check to see if you need a permit
The first step is to check with your local city council to see if you need a permit. Some places require a permit from the local ordinances before you build your concrete driveway. This may depend on the height and width of your driveway as well.
The permit applications are usually available on the city’s website. Moreover, if you have a homeowner’s association in your neighbourhood, they may have a few rules about where and how you can install your concrete driveway.
2. Plan the size, shape & route of the driveway
Once you check with the local authorities regarding the planning permissions, you need to plan your concrete driveway’s shape, route, and size. We recommend drawing the basic outline first, considering the overall width and length.
Keep in mind where you will park the vehicles, whether you will need any space to turn the vehicle around or not, etc. Allow a minimum of 5.5 m to 6.1 m for a car and 6.7 m to 7.3 m for trucks or vans.
If you have a single car, it will need a width of almost 3 m to 3.7 m. Every foot will increase the overall expense significantly, so make the measurements carefully. You can use this outline to determine the amount of material you have to get.
3. Figure out how much concrete you need
The amount of concrete you need depends on the length and width of your driveway. Increasing the order by almost 10% is better to keep room for mistakes, errors, and spillages. In the market, cement is usually sold in cubic yards, so you will have to convert that into cubic metres if it is not already converted. Or you can try to make a cement mixture yourself.
4. Get wood for the forms
To build the formworks, you will need wood. Moreover, to reinforce the forms, you will need stakes. You have to keep all of this in mind while creating a budget. We recommend that you go with a pine board (2.5 cm x 10 cm), as it is usually enough for laying down a new concrete driveway. You should get stakes (10 cm). The length of the pine board will depend on the size of your concrete drive.
5. Create a budget
Depending on the length and width of your driveway, do a driveway cost estimation. Make sure that you add the cost of the tools you buy or rent, the cost of labour if you want to hire someone to help you with the project, etc.
6. Firm the soil up using sand
To support the weight of the cement, you will need a solid, firm sub-base. If the base soil is loose and sandy, add some clay to firm the topsoil up. If it is too loamy, add gravel or sand to keep it level.
A gravel base will strengthen the entire driveway. Even if you don’t add hardcore, compact the soil and existing concrete to make it even and firm, using rammers and vibratory plate compactors. With the help of crushed rock or gravel, you can also create a base.
7. Layout the shape of the driveway
The next step is to create the shape of the driveway with the help of stakes. Drive small wooden stakes at all the points along the street. Then, drive the stakes at the top of the driveway. Tie a builder’s line on the stakes so that you can see the path. Keep checking the layout on the ground with the layout you drew to ensure you are not making any errors.
8. Install the form boards
Now, you need to install the form boards. As mentioned earlier, these will be 2.5 cm by 10 cm pieces of pine wood that you have to anchor with stakes to support the formworks sufficiently. Drive the stakes into the soil using a sledgehammer.
You can place the stakes after every 0.91 m to ensure that the form holds. If you build a curved driveway, plywood or Masonite will support the load while still being flexible.
9. Backfill with sub-base
We suggest that you remove the soil and backfill with the sub-base. Road base is a compound made of gravel and crushed granite. Depending on the soil conditions, it will stabilise the ground and support the load as you pour concrete. It is not necessary – however, it will stabilise the driveway. Usually, the driveways are around 10 cm thick, so add fill material to ensure that the base is thick enough to support heavy vehicles.
10. Compact the soil
With the help of a soil compactor, compact the soil and the fill material. You can rent the compactor tools for the local hardware store. If you compact the soil well, it will easily support the cement’s weight and the weight of vehicles on the drive.
If you want to add reinforcing steel to the cement, you can do that as well. It will increase the strength of the driveway significantly.
11. Pour the concrete
You can use a wheelbarrow to pour the concrete. However, you have to pour the cement very quickly, and it can be hard to do with just one wheelbarrow on your own so that you can ask for help from your family or friends.
You can use a concrete pump as well. Once you have poured the cement, flatten the straightedge as much as possible. You can make the surface even and flat using a hand trowel. As the concrete dries, it will contract. This can result in cracks. To avoid cracks, use plastic or wood zip strips (control joints) and add 2.5 cm deep cuts in the concrete after every 1.2 m.
12. Add texture to the cement
A perfect, smooth surface will make it hard for your car to get traction, particularly in rainy and wet conditions. Therefore, you need to drag a burlap sack or broom along with the cement as it is drying.
It will create a textured area that your tires can grip. Do the broom finish while the cement is still damp. If there is a slope, broom the wet concrete in the direction you want the driveway to drain.
13. Cure the cement
Create a moisture-retaining barrier on the cement’s surface to let it cure. You can do that by laying out a plastic sheet on top of it, so you can apply a chemical curing compound to keep the cement from drying out quickly. Don’t use the driveway until it has cured. Wait at least three days to be sure that the concrete has cured.
14. Test the driveway
After the cement has cured, park the car on the driveway. Be on the lookout for any signs of crumbling or cracking. If there are any cracks, you can easily repair them. Voila! Your new cement driveway is ready!
When you are working with concrete and cement on a small scale, it is pretty easy. However, when you are installing a whole driveway, it can be a bit of a challenge. However, building a cement driveway yourself is possible with some preparation and planning. Follow the step-by-step instructions that we have provided for your ease in this helpful guide, and you will have an alluring, beautiful driveway in no time! Once you are done, you may also want to learn how to remove dry cement from paving slabs or brick walls.
Happy Building, Folks!