The Best Time of Year to Install a Concrete Driveway

The Best Time of Year to Install a Concrete Driveway

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Prep for Crack-Free Concrete

A concrete driveway should last for decades if it’s properly installed. Good finishing techniques will make a slab look great for a while, but proper ground prep will keep your concrete crack-free for years. Here are some great tips on how to prepare the site for a pour.

DIY concrete driveway cost

A DIY concrete driveway costs $2 to $3 per square foot for the concrete without stamping or staining, plus $200 to $500 for driveway materials such as concrete forms and wire mesh or rebar.

Pouring a new concrete driveway is a complex job that requires special concrete tools and experience. Most homeowners are better off hiring a pro.

How to build a concrete driveway

Building a concrete driveway requires special tools and expertise about how to grade and level the sub-base, install concrete forms, add rebar for reinforcement, place expansion joints to minimize cracking, and finish the surface. Correct timing is critical due to how quickly concrete dries.

  1. Excavate the driveway site. If replacing an existing driveway with a new one, break up and remove the old cement.
  2. Level and grade the area for proper drainage.
  3. Build and install forms to hold the wet concrete in place.
  4. Spread a sub-base of gravel at least 4″ thick and tamp it down.
  5. Insert a rebar grid or metal mesh for reinforcement.
  6. Pour concrete into the forms, spreading it evenly into each corner.
  7. Level and smooth the concrete, then use a wood or magnesium hand float to give it an even smoother surface.
  8. Cut control joints to create individual sections to prevent the slab from cracking.
  9. Spray an acrylic sealer to protect the concrete from spalling and scaling.
  10. Cure the concrete by spraying it down with water every day for at least one week.

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What is a driveway crossover?

A driveway crossover is the part of a driveway that connects the edge of the road pavement to the official boundary of a property, essentially the part of driveway that is on council land (over the footpath) between the road and the official boundary of your property. The driveway crossover requires any existing pavement that crosses over the planned driveway to be removed. A full slab driveway crossover is required, by most Councils, between the kerb and property boundary.

As you’ll need to meet Council’s standard conditions for your driveway crossover and gain written approval, it’s important to check with your local council for specific rules or conditions, as some councils have stricter or alternate rules or processes in place. In most States, the driveway crossover has to be graded appropriately to protect against storm water overflow from the road. In addition to this, must be designed in a way that prevents storm water from flowing into your neighbour’s property too. Furthermore, you are required to put up adequate signage, barrier protection and redirection measures if construction of the crossover obstructs traffic and or pedestrians.

how much it costs to pour a 12 x 40 concrete driveway

Design and Gravel Prep

Forming and Reinforcement

Pouring the concrete

Finished concrete driveway

The costs breakdown for a 12' by 40' concrete driveway like the one we did above are below:

  1. Remove existing driveway and gravel prep – Labor 600.00 – Materials $600.00
  2. Forming & install reinforcement – Labor $750 – Materials $150
  3. Pouring & Finishing the concrete – Labor $1500 – Concrete $1100 (5" thick)

Total cost of the concrete driveway: $4700.00

Deduct labor costs if you do it yourself: $4700 – $2850 = $1850.00 diy concrete driveway cost.

NOTE: These are my costs of labor and materials in my area, your actual costs for both of these may vary greatly depending on your situation.

Mid-Range

A mid-range driveway has a cost that can range from $15/$22 per square foot, and it can come with the additions of engraving, use of two or more colors or patterns, use of two or three colors with a contrasting border, and a scored and stained concrete finish.

The mid-range category is for someone who wants to have a good driveway with better style, as well as a few of the more simple bells and whistles. The scored and stained concrete finish will also mean it lasts a little longer than a basic concrete driveway, as well.

other factors that add to the cost of installing a driveway

  • Your landscape – Is the area flat, slightly sloped, or steep. A steep sloped concrete driveway is more difficult to prep, pour, and finish which could add to the cost of installation.
  • The Driveway Size – A large driveway or a very long driveway would greatly add to the final cost. Concrete is a very expensive building material and adds about $150 per 65 sq. ft. of driveway.
  • How thick your concrete is – Driveway thickness contributes a large percentage  to the cost of a driveway. Concrete costs about $150 per yard – At 4" thick that will cover 80 sq. ft. At 5" thick that covers 65 sq. ft. At 6" thick that covers 50 sq. ft.
  • Driveway design – Curved, circular, half moon shaped, or irregular angles may increase the material (and labor) costs. 
  • Adding color to the mix – Adding 1 bag of color per yard of concrete can add up to $80 per yard of concrete.
  • Stamping the concrete – Stamped concrete averages about $15 – $20 dollars per sq. ft. for labor and materials. 

Installation

Although it is possible for a homeowner to pour a concrete driveway themselves, it is quite hard work. Time is a critical element because once the concrete is poured, it begins to harden very quickly. For this reason, it is usually left to professionals who can excavate, prepare forms, pour the concrete, and finish the surface quickly. A professional crew can do the entire project in a couple of days, while a homeowner takes usually a week or more for excavation and preparation alone, and another very long day for pouring and finishing. For the homeowner intrepid enough to pour his own concrete, having a group of willing and able-bodied helpers on hand is essential.

Installing a concrete driveway starts with removing grass and other vegetation and ensuring a stable soil foundation. Wood forms are then installed around the perimeter of the intended driveway. A base of class-5 gravel at least 4 inches thick is added, graded, and compacted. Reinforcement material is added just above the packed gravel base, consisting of a steel wire grid or metal rebar laid in a criss-cross pattern across the area.

The driveway is now ready for the concrete pour. This generally involves a crew of several people working quickly to fill the forms with wet concrete as it is delivered from a ready-mix vendor and then to quickly finish the surface. The finishing crew should also ensure an adequate number of expansion joints—grooves formed across the wet surface at prescribed intervals to allow the slab to shift and break at controlled places. Without expansion grooves, a slab can fragment randomly under the effect of natural settling and shifting.

A key part of the finishing process is floating the concrete. After the concrete is poured and smoothed, the finishing crew uses a variety of tools to work the surface of the concrete, drawing the cement and finer particles to the surface through capillary action to create an attractive, smoother surface. The amount of floating determined how smooth the surface will be, and there is considerable craft involved in doing so because excessive floating will weaken the surface and cause it to flake, while too little will leave the slab with a rough, industrial look. This is also the time when a skilled crew can impart decorative finishes and colors to the surface of the slab.

One of the most important parts of a concrete driveway installation begins after all of the above work is done—the curing. Concrete doesn't dry out; rather, it undergoes a slow chemical process that hardens and strengthens the material. It is very important that this curing process occurs under the best of circumstances. That begins with the weather. Ideal curing weather is about 70 degrees with a surface that is kept damp but not wet. In cool weather, curing will take longer. In hot weather, the surface should be dampened regularly with water to slow down the curing time.

Wait at least a week before driving on the new driveway, and at least a month before parking heavy vehicles on the driveway. Wait a month or two before sealing the concrete.

Best Driveway Paving Companies of 2022

Concrete Driveway Cost: Benefits of Having a Concrete Driveway

Aside from being a lower-cost material for installing a driveway, concrete comes with several benefits that make it a great choice. Concrete driveways are low maintenance, reflect heat well, and have a high load-bearing capacity. In comparison, asphalt driveway costs are also lower up front, but the lifespan is shorter, which is just one reason a concrete driveway may be a better choice.

Low Up-Front Cost

At $4 to $7 per square foot, concrete driveways are a more affordable option than some materials like paving stones. When you consider the longevity of a concrete driveway, the cost is a good investment overall.

Heat Reflection

If you live in an area with hot, sunny summers, concrete is a sensible option since it reflects heat and light rather than absorbing it. Asphalt driveways tend to absorb heat and soften in extreme temperatures, so choosing concrete will ensure it’s sturdy enough to last through a sweltering summer.

Curb Appeal and Resale Value

Even a standard concrete driveway boosts curb appeal. Laying a durable foundation for cars to drive on is a necessity for homeowners now. It helps prevent erosion or damage to the property and makes a neat appearance leading to the house. A house with a concrete driveway in good condition will sell more quickly than a house without a finished driveway.

Connect with a driveway contractorHiring a pro may be the answer. Find top local driveway experts and compare multiple project quotes. Consult a pro ++

Low Maintenance, Durability, and Longevity

Concrete driveways require little in terms of ongoing maintenance—even less if they’re sealed. While an asphalt driveway may need to be repaired frequently and replaced within 15 to 20 years, a concrete driveway is less prone to damage from everyday living. Asphalt driveways require sealing every 3 to 5 years, but concrete driveways just need a little sealant to repair tiny cracks that may appear over time. Overall, a concrete driveway is a low-hassle and long-lasting choice for a driveway.

Load-Bearing Capacity

Since concrete undergoes a chemical process called curing, it’s a durable and stable foundation for supporting vehicles and other structures. While a 4-inch-thick driveway is sufficient for most cars and trucks, if you plan to park recreational vehicles or other heavy equipment on the driveway, the thickness can be adjusted to account for the extra weight. A solid concrete driveway won’t dip where parked tires sit.

Eco-Friendliness

Asphalt is not the most eco-friendly driveway option: Asphalt is made from petroleum, a limited natural resource. It requires intensive mining and processing that releases harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the atmosphere. Concrete is made from naturally occurring minerals and can be readily recycled when it’s reached the end of its lifespan. Well-maintained concrete lasts longer, so there’s less waste produced in the long term.

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Photo: depositphotos.com

How to Save Money on a Concrete Driveway

Building a new driveway can quickly become expensive if you want to customize the design or shape. And if you have an existing driveway in poor condition, consider booking a consultation with a contractor to see if the driveway can be repaired instead. This is a budget-friendly option as long as the damage isn’t severe. Simply do a quick search for “driveway repair near me” to find a reputable contractor. Here’s a helpful list of ways to save money on concrete driveway costs.

  • Do your own site preparation to save on labor. Some tasks might require heavy equipment, so weigh the costs of renting versus having the contractor do it.
  • If you have an old driveway that needs to be removed, consider breaking up the concrete on your own but letting the contractor haul away the debris.
  • Choose a material that best suits your climate for long-term value.
  • Obtain multiple quotes from contractors.
  • If the weather allows, try installing a driveway around the beginning or end of the building season to get a seasonal discount.
  • Install a basic driveway rather than an elaborate stained or stamped driveway.
  • Avoid designing any curves in the driveway to save on materials and labor.
  • Seal your driveway after it has cured, then reseal it every few years to prolong its lifespan.

Photo: depositphotos.com

What costs are involved in driveway construction?

  • Labour hire costs
  • Costs for materials like gravel, cement, sealer, and or bricks
  • Machinery and equipment costs
  • Miscellaneous – water, electricity, and gas

Image via Florida DrivewayImage via Florida Driveway

Cost to pour concrete driveway

The average cost to pour a 1,000 sq. ft. concrete driveway slab is $4,000 to $8,000 or $4 to $8 per square foot, depending on the size, shape, and decorative finishes. Small driveways may cost more per square foot because most installers have a minimum job price.

 Cost to pour concrete driveway   Quality Cost per

Cost to pour concrete driveway
Quality Cost per square foot Features
Standard $4 – $8
  • Plain gray concrete slab
Basic $8 – $12
  • Single-color stain
  • Basic stencil or border
  • Broom-finish texture
  • Exposed aggregate
Mid-range $12 – $18
  • Stamped pattern
  • Two or three colors
  • Contrasting border color
  • Engraved or scored concrete
High-end $18 – $25
  • Multiple patterns and colors
  • Custom decorative borders
  • Hand-applied stained accents
  • Advanced stenciling techniques

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Concrete driveway cost per square foot

A plain gray concrete driveway costs $4 to $8 per square foot. Adding a stain, basic border, and broom-finish texture increases the price to $8 to $12 per square foot. A stamped concrete driveway with multiple patterns, colors, decorative borders, and sealing costs $12 to $18 per square foot.

 Concrete driveway cost per square foot   Type Cos

Concrete driveway cost per square foot
Type Cost per square foot
Standard $4 – $8
Stained $8 – $12
Stamped $12 – $18

Stamped concrete driveway cost

Stamped concrete driveways cost $12 to $18 per square foot, depending on the number of colors and patterns. Stamped concrete, also called patterned or textured concrete, replicates the look of stone, brick, or tile. Installers use a texturized mat to imprint a pattern directly into the concrete.

Stained concrete driveway cost

Stained concrete driveways cost $8 to $12 per square foot. Stains penetrate the surface with a permanent color that doesn’t chip or fade, and help create decorative patterns or borders. Acid-based stains are limited to earth tones, while water-based stains come in a wide variety of colors.

Polished concrete driveway cost

Polished concrete driveway cost

Experts recommend against using polished concrete for driveways because it’s slippery when wet and requires extensive upkeep to maintain the polished sheen on outdoor surfaces. Sealing a color-stained concrete driveway gives the appearance of polished concrete.

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Set Rebar on Chairs

Rebar that’s lying on the ground does no good whatsoever. Placing the rebar grid on chairs will ensure it stays centered in the slab. Chairs come in different sizes so the height can be customized to the thickness of your slab. Space the chairs so the rebar sits level. Raised rebar is the mother of all trip hazards, so move slowly and deliberately when walking through the grid.

You won’t be able to use chairs if you need to roll a wheelbarrow over the rebar to distribute the concrete. If that’s the case, lay the rebar on the ground and pull it up into the center of the concrete as you pour. Concrete placers/rakes have hooks on them designed to do just that. Chairs are the best way to guarantee that the rebar is centered, so use them when you can.

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