Pros and Cons of a Concrete Driveway

Pros and Cons of a Concrete Driveway

Concrete is a popular driveway material for good reason. Concrete slabs are extremely sturdy and long-lasting, and they require very little upkeep. Concrete is a relatively reasonable value for vast sections of paving due to its combined strength and longevity. Concrete is more expensive than gravel and asphalt as a road surface, but it is significantly less expensive than a driveway composed of brick, cobblestone, or concrete pavers—and it often outlasts all of these.

Although plain concrete can appear dull, it can also be tinted and stamped to create a unique and appealing surface.

Concrete as a Building Material

Concrete is sometimes mistakenly referred to as cement, while the term cement refers to only one component of concrete. Concrete is a composite material composed of many types of stone aggregate held together by a water and lime-based binder—typically Portland cement. The cement is a crushed powder composed of limestone and clay. Depending on the planned purpose of the concrete, the aggregate size in the mixture can vary. Concrete is typically created with gravel-sized pebbles, however for finer work and smoother finished surfaces, finer sands can be used as the aggregate. A blend of aggregate and cement is commonly used in driveway slabs, sidewalks, and other paving surfaces.

Concrete, when first mixed, is a pourable slurry that can be molded into whatever shape is necessary. As the concrete cures, it gradually hardens. Although a few days of curing makes it hard enough for most uses, the hardening process can take months or even years.

Concrete is strengthened in many applications by embedding steel metal reinforcement wire, or rebar, within the slab. Other ingredients, such as agents that improve strength or delay drying time, can be added during the mixing process.

Concrete Driveway Installation

Although a homeowner can pour a concrete driveway himself, it is difficult work. Time is an important factor since concrete hardens quickly after it is poured. As a result, it is normally left to professionals who can swiftly excavate, create forms, pour concrete, and finish the surface. A professional crew can complete the process in a few days, whereas a homeowner often takes a week or more for excavation and preparation, followed by another long day for pouring and finishing. 

The process of installing a concrete driveway begins with the removal of grass and other plants and the construction of a firm soil foundation. After that, wood forms are constructed along the perimeter of the desired driveway. A base of at least 4 inches thick class-5 gravel is added, graded, and compacted. Just above the packed gravel base, reinforcement material is added in the form of a steel wire grid or metal rebar arranged in a crisscross pattern throughout the area.

The driveway is fully complete and ready for the concrete pour. Typically, a crew of several people works swiftly to fill the forms with wet concrete as it is delivered from a ready-mix provider, and then to finish the surface quickly. The finishing crew should also make sure that there are a suitable number of expansion joints—grooves made across the wet surface at predetermined intervals to allow the slab to shift and crack in controlled spots. A slab can break randomly without expansion channels due to natural settling and displacement.

Floating the concrete is an important part of the finishing process. After the concrete has been poured and polished, the finishing crew works the surface of the concrete with a variety of equipment, bringing the cement and finer particles to the surface through capillary action to create a beautiful, smooth surface.  The amount of floating determines how smooth the surface will be, and there is a considerable amount of skill involved. This is also the time when a skilled crew can impart decorative finishes and colours to the surface of the slab.

After all of the preceding labour is completed, one of the most crucial elements of a concrete driveway installation begins: curing. Concrete does not dry out; rather, it goes through a lengthy chemical process that hardens and strengthens it. It is important that this curing process takes place under ideal conditions. It all starts with the weather. The ideal curing temperature is at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with a surface that is kept damp but not wet. Curing will take longer in chilly conditions. In hot weather, the surface should be moistened with water on a frequent basis to slow down the curing process.

You should wait at least a week before driving on your new driveway and a month before parking large vehicles on it. Allow at least a month to pass before sealing the concrete.

When considering longevity, concrete is a reasonably inexpensive option. You probably only need to have a driveway installed once during the lifetime of your home.For huge projects, concrete is not a DIY-friendly material. Pouring a concrete driveway requires grueling labour, therefore most customers choose professional installation.
Concrete is a very long-lasting surface. A concrete slab can endure 50 years or more if properly built and maintained.Although colour-etching and stamping are possible, concrete is not the most appealing building material. These creative treatments require more upkeep and often do not last as long as plain concrete.
Concrete driveways are extremely durable. When cured, they will withstand large amounts of weight.Concrete does require periodic care, particularly sealing, to preserve the slab’s longevity. Vehicle oil and fluid leaks can leave stains that are difficult to remove.

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