Choosing and Using Concrete for a Driveway

Concrete Driveways
Installed driveways made of concrete require significantly lower maintenance than other materials including asphalt, stone and gravel. It provides design versatility and continuous functionality while adding curb appeal to the exterior of the home.

The concrete driveway can dramatically affect the appearance of the home, and provide a variety of options for landscaping. When properly installed, the concrete driveway can add significant value while providing quick and safe access to the house.

Concrete can add aesthetic beauty to the exterior of the home. It can be installed in a variety of patterns, colors, textures, shapes and sizes. In addition, it can be poured and finished to resemble a variety of decorative materials with the same color, feel and texture of slate, tile, stone, brick and other natural materials. Many homeowners elect to install exposed aggregate finishes to their driveway.

A Trouble-Free Solution
Unlike traditional driveway materials including gravel and asphalt, concrete has trouble-free longevity. When properly installed, concrete is very durable and stable. It can last for three decades or longer without any requirement of major maintenance. Out of all the available materials for driveways, concrete is visually appealing, adds significant value to the home, and is cost-effective when comparing it to other materials.

Planning
Concrete is a wet mixture that is brought to the site. Because of that, it can be poured into nearly any shape or size, and completed in one day. This means that the planning and design process can be highly creative. Homeowners can choose decorative designs, long sweeping angles and widths.

Typically, concrete driveways are poured at four inches thick using reinforcements including rebar, metal mesh and others. It can be poured at a thicker depth for heavier vehicles. Proper installation requires setting the forms for the poured concrete to maintain a slope toward the street at a rate of 1/8” per running foot, or a 1% grade to allow for proper drainage.

Design Options
The design of the concrete should match the home’s exterior, to accentuate the landscape. The design can include any color, pattern, texture or shape. The options available can add significant dimension to the aesthetic qualities of the finished product. Stamping the concrete using patterns provides a colorful and exotic way to increase the enhancement and beauty of the home.

Placement and Finishing
Once the design is finalized, the forms can be set at the proper angles and shape. After installing rebar, or other reinforcement metal, the ready mix concrete can be ordered and delivered to the site. The sub-base, or the area below the concrete, should be lightly wetted with water. Then the concrete can be poured and leveled using a bull float to remove any type of irregularity. Edging is usually done at this point.

After allowing the surface water to bleed off through evaporation, the final finishing techniques can be performed. After troweling the surface to a smooth finish, “brooming” the top layer, by pulling a broom across the surface, can add the right amount of non-skid traction resistance to make the concrete safe to walk on when wet.

A concrete driveway is a major home improvement over standard materials including asphalt and gravel.

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