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Concrete driveways cost less over time and last for decades

Driveways Photo

Material cost AND designed life are both important to consider when buying a driveway. Concrete offers competitive initial costs and because it requires little or no maintenance, also offers considerable savings over time.

Your driveway is your homes first impression. Concrete adds value to your curb appeal by presenting a clean, professional appearance. You know that concrete driveways are built to outlast your life time!

Natural rock and steel are the only things that can handle the wear and tear like concrete. When it comes to driveways, concrete take the most abuse and live the longest!

Your imagination is the limit! Virtually any color, texture or pattern can be duplicated with concrete.

Regardless of the landscape around your home, concrete driveways are a sure fit. Enhancing your property with concrete is resourceful.


Avoid Scaling of Concrete Pavement
What causes scaling?
Scaling concrete surfaces are generally a result of improper finishing of the concrete or lack of curing. If excess water is added to the surface of the concrete during placement and finishing, the water/cement ratio on the surface may be drastically increased; thus creating a much weaker surface. Also, scaling can be caused by improper care of concrete.

2 Ways to Avoid Scaling

Proper placing, finishing, and curing procedures are required for good, durable concrete. No finishing operations shall be performed when there is excess moisture or bleed water on the surface. No water shall be added to the concrete surface to assist in finishing. Steel troweling or overworking of the concrete surface is not recommended. Provide proper curing by using liquid membrane curing compound or by covering the surface of freshly placed slabs with wet burlap immediately after the final finishing operation.

Curing insures the proper combination of cement with water known as hydration, which allows the concrete to achieve its highest potential strength.

You wouldn't use a strong, caustic soap to clean your new wall-to-wall carpet! Nor would you use acid to clean your new kitchen or bathroom fixtures! In fact, you're pretty careful how you clean and take care of your new home inside.

So, what about outside concrete driveways, walks, patios, porches and steps? You should give the concrete around your house the same consideration as your interior! It's quality concrete, so take proper care and don't abuse it.

Avoid using any deicing chemicals on concrete less than two years old. The only safe material to use to make the concrete surface skid resistant is plain sand. Remove snow and ice from the slab and use sand for traction

Never use deicers containing ammonium sulphate or ammonium nitrate. These chemicals are often packaged and sold as deicers, but they cause surface defects in concrete.



How thick should a concrete driveway thickness? A minimum of 4 inches is recommended for concrete driveway thickness. Keep in mind that the 2 x 4's often used to form driveways are only 3 ½ inches wide, so the ground inside the 2 x 4 forming needs to be removed at least ½ inch below the bottom of the form. Concrete thickness is the major factor (even more than the strength of the concrete) in determining the driveway's structural capacity. Increasing your driveway's thickness from 4 inches to 5 inches will add about 20% to your concrete cost, but the additional inch of concrete will add almost 50% to load-carrying capacity of your driveway.

What benefits can I get by opting to use a concrete driveway instead of an asphalt driveway?
Begin by considering the cost of the driveway over its lifetime. A good quality concrete driveway will last more than 30 years with little or no maintenance. Asphalt driveways need periodic sealing coats to retard-age related cracking. Even properly constructed residential asphalt driveways will deteriorate more quickly due to environmental influences than due to vehicle traffic. If you consider the cost of surface and crack sealers and the shorter life-span of the asphalt, concrete will cost much less.

What type of concrete mix should be used?
The concrete should be at least 4000 psi, with 6% air-entrainment (in the Maryland climate). It's also a good idea to use a water-reducing admixture to lower the concrete's water-cement ratio below .45. Most high-performance concrete will include fly ash and water-reducing admixtures to provide long-term strength gain and initial workability without the addition of water. High-performance concrete mixes can be designed for easy placement, so your contractor isn't saddled with a hard-to-handle concrete mix.

What Type of Finish Should I use?
The two main types used are hard-troweled and broom finish. Trowel finishes are usually used indoors where a smooth, hard and flat surface is required. Broom finishes are appropriate for exterior slabs such as sidewalks, offering durability and a slip resistant surface. Decorative finishes are also available, including: Patterned, Colored and Exposed Aggregate.

What provision can be made to avoid cracks?
There are many reasons why concrete cracks. Cracks rarely affect structural integrity. The majority of concrete cracks usually occur due to improper design and construction practices, such as: omission of isolation & control joints, improper jointing practices, improper sub grade preparation, the use of high slump (very wet) concrete or addition of water on the job, improper finishing and inadequate or no curing. Concrete "shrinks" slightly as it hardens, therefore; proper spacing of joints is most important.

Should there be joints in a concrete driveway?
Install control joints at a spacing of no more than 10' x 10'. Spacing joints at wider intervals invites random cracking. While such cracks are generally not a structural problem, and will not reduce the service life of the driveway, they are unsightly. Also avoid joint patterns that produce rectangular or triangular sections. Lay out your joints to form square sections. If in doubt, make the sections smaller, not larger. Ask your contractor to provide a jointing plan as part of his written proposal.

Why should concrete driveways be cured?
Curing of concrete is the final step of the construction process, and one of the most important. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most neglected. In extreme cases, failure to cure concrete can result in reductions of strength up to 50%. Curing or keeping the surface moist to assure greatest hydration of cement and highest potential strength is easily done through spray membranes or other readily available products and procedures. Curing compounds should be applied after the final finishing operation to increase the concrete's resistance to the effects of weather, and to decrease the occurrence of surface defects.

Is it necessary to seal a concrete driveway?
Periodically sealing a concrete driveway will protect it from water or chemical absorption. This will make it much easier to clean accidental spills and will also help prevent the occurrence of surface defects. Always follow manufacturers' recommendations for sealing concrete.

How should one select a concrete driveway contractor?
A good place to start is to call the MRMCA at 1-866-367-2662 for a list of quality contractors and suppliers in your area. Once you come up with a list of contractors, be sure to ask them some important questions.

Find out how long they have been in business, ask for references or ACI Certifications and see if they offer any kind of warranty on their work. Ask for the location of work they have completed recently, as well as some projects from 3-5 years ago. Check out these projects, and determine whether or not the workmanship exhibited in these projects is what you expect, and see if the quality has endured in the older projects.