Even the most ambitious of homeowners will want to review the steps for installing a driveway before deciding to tackle this major project as a DIY undertaking.
When it comes to upgrading your driveway, concrete is one of the most affordable, customizable, and modern looking options available on the market. But many people mistake its simplicity in appearance for ease of installation and design. And that can lead to homeowners wondering whether they can DIY a concrete driveway on their own.
The biggest benefit to trying to tackle this project yourself is financial. You’ll save about half the cost of having a driveway professionally installed because you aren’t paying for someone to do the labour for you. That said, you’ll have to take on all of the responsibility of the planning, install, and finishing yourself. And that usually takes a trained hand to do properly.
Let’s take a closer look at how to install a concrete driveway so you can decide for yourself if its too much to do yourself.
What goes into installing a concrete driveway [a high-level look]
Setting up a concrete driveway is no small feat. It requires a lot of planning, starting with checking to make sure you don’t have to apply for a permit or permission to do the project in the first place. Once you have the go ahead, you (or a professional concrete driveway installer) will have to follow a number of steps to install the final product.
#1. Clear and level
First of all, you have to prepare the ground to receive the new concrete. You can’t simply pour concrete over an existing surface. You’ll have to remove whatever material is already in place for your driveway and properly dispose of it. From there, the exposed ground will need to be levelled and then a layer of gravel needs to be added and levelled as a base to receive the concrete.
#2. Build forms
Forms are a crucial part of any concrete project. Without them, the concrete will not dry in the shape or place that you intend. Forms are made using boards and beams that are placed in the exact location and shape that you will want the driveway to be in. Remember to measure and triple check your placement before the concrete arrives.
#3. Pour concrete
This step is rather complex because you have to remember that concrete doesn’t wait for you to start drying. It’s a competition against the clock from the start. The concrete needs to be poured in place, starting at one end and working your way out, preferably in sections. As it is poured, it needs to be levelled, compacted, striked off, and smoothed to ensure there are no air bubbles and that all of the material is level. Remember that any imperfections that you see now will dry in place and remain for years to come.
#4. Edge and joint
If you want to add any finishing designs or edging, this is the time to do it while the concrete is still wet. This is also the time when joints should be set into the concrete to control expansion of the material when it is dry and subjected to extremes in temperature. This will help reduce natural cracking. Joints should be at least one quarter of the thickness of the slab and spaced evenly.
#5. Cure and use
From there, the concrete will need ample time to cure. You’ll need to keep it off completely for at least three days and wait at least 10 days before you can drive a car onto it. This will give the concrete time enough to set and fully harden against the elements and prolong its overall lifespan.
Wondering how long concrete sealant takes to dry? Get the answer here
Deciding whether to DIY a concrete driveway
Admittedly, these steps are a high-level look at how to go about preparing and installing a driveway. There are a lot of moving parts, and it’s important to keep in mind that they all need to be conducted in a specific way and under a time crunch. Concrete waits for no one!
While you can certainly save money by attempting a DIY concrete driveway, the ramifications if you have trouble can outweigh any savings. For example, if you don’t correctly join the slab, you could end up with lots of cracking and damage over time. If you don’t properly tamp down the concrete and smooth the surface, you can have a driveway that has bubbles, divots, and lines in it.
And remember, concrete driveways are meant to last. Get it wrong, and you’ll have to pay much more to have the professionals come in and remove your handiwork before replacing it with a properly installed concrete driveway. That demolition doesn’t come cheap, and it doesn’t come without a mess or headaches, either.
Stuck for design ideas? Compare the top concrete driveway styles here
How to choose a concrete installer instead
If we’ve convinced you that the DIY route might not be a fit for you, then you’re probably left wondering where to get started. You know you want a concrete driveway, but there are quite a few services touting the same results in Melbourne. Fortunately, there are quite a few ways you can narrow down the playing field as you choose the right concrete installer for your project.
First of all, make sure to ask about experience. One of the biggest reasons why you shouldn’t DIY a concrete driveway is that it takes the right amount of know-how to get through the project without any issues. So experience truly matters. It’s also important to ask how long a company has been in business, since this can give you a sense of how reputable and long lasting they are in the area.
When it comes to reputation, you’ll also want to take to the internet and see what other customers have said about their experiences. You can do this on Google Business listings as well as a variety of social media sites. Don’t be shy about asking for customer references either. If a company has nothing to hide, they’ll be forthcoming with testimonials and even examples of their work.
Another sign that you may want to work with a concrete installer is whether they are registered as a member of any trade associations. Look for memberships with the Master Builder Association and whether they are registered as a building practitioner. And of course, you never want to work with anyone who isn’t fully licensed and insured to do the work you need done.
Why you should go with the pros at Concept Concrete for your driveway
All of this is enough to illustrate that going with a DIY concrete driveway is simply not practical. It makes much more sense to work with a reliable, experienced contractor who understands concrete work and has all of the proper tools to get the job done right for you the first time.
What’s more, you can also take advantage of the flexibility and options that come with concrete driveways when you work with the pros. Concrete can be pigmented, stamped, pave cut, and styled to meet any design ideas you have in mind when working with a professional installer.
Concept Concrete is Melbourne’s premier choice for top-of-the-line concrete driveway work. Our reputation as a reliable, professional, high-quality service precedes us, and as a family-owned business, we take that status seriously. We can help you design your very own custom concrete driveway with hands on interaction so you are as involved (or not) as you want in the process. From there, we’ll turn around a fantastic project with hassle-free project planning and transparent pricing.
Call us on 1300 366 343 or contact us online today to learn more about concrete driveways from Concept Concrete.