The driveway can be a hugely positive addition to your home both in terms of aesthetics and functionality. It can become an even greater asset if you put a significant amount of resources into its construction. To be more specific, concrete driveways are highly valued elements that can instantly elevate a home.
If you’re planning to attach a concrete driveway to your home, you need to construct it carefully. You need to correctly determine the width of the driveway and where the control joints should be placed. Getting the thickness of the concrete driveway right is also crucial if you want it to remain in good shape.
A concrete driveway that’s about four inches thick should suffice for standard vehicles. Heavier vehicles will need more support, so increasing the thickness of the driveway to five inches would be best. Also, consider making the edges of the driveway about an inch or two thicker to reinforce them.
Adding plenty of value to your home is a genuine possibility if you choose to invest in a concrete driveway. Ensure you build it correctly by following the tips included in this article.
Determining the Appropriate Level of Thickness for Your Concrete Driveway
The thickness of the concrete is the most important consideration when you’re building a driveway. Fail to make the driveway thick enough and it will crumble way earlier than expected. So, how do you determine the right level of thickness for your concrete driveway? You need to start by hitting a baseline mark.
At a minimum, your concrete driveway should be four inches thick. Anything below that mark is considered insufficient.
Driveways that do not reach the aforementioned baseline level of thickness will be more susceptible to cracking. The cracks may start out small, but they will grow in size if you don’t do something about the driveway. It won’t be long before the entire driveway is rendered unusable due to how compromised its structural integrity becomes.
To be clear though, four inches is simply the baseline level of thickness. There’s a chance it won’t be enough if you intend to use the driveway to frequently accommodate vehicles of varying sizes. A driveway that measures four inches thick is only good enough for standard-sized vehicles. You will need a thicker driveway if you want something capable of supporting heavier cars and possibly even trucks.
The rule of thumb governing driveway thickness is that each additional inch of concrete makes the driveway approximately 50 percent stronger. Making the driveway thicker by an inch should be enough if you’re trying to accommodate larger vehicles. You can go higher though if you want to bolster the concrete driveway even further.
How Thick Should the Edges of the Concrete Driveway Be?
The dimensions mentioned above will do for most of the driveway. However, you may want to consider increasing the thickness of the concrete driveway’s edges.
Increasing the thickness of the driveway’s edges is important because those spots usually have to support heavier loads. The weight of the vehicle is often concentrated on those spots. If they aren’t strong enough, they may fail to hold up the weight of your vehicle properly.
Make those edges at least an inch thicker than the rest of the concrete driveway. Don’t hesitate to up that to two inches if you can though. The additional inch can make a real difference in the long run and preserve the condition of the driveway even better.
The Recommended Level of Thickness for Commercial Concrete Driveways
Driveways for commercial buildings are usually subjected to more traffic and heavier loads over the course of their respective lifetimes. Because of that, setting the driveway thickness to four inches may not be enough. Even a commercial concrete driveway that’s five inches thick could still be prone to cracking early.
Hiking up the thickness of the concrete driveway to at least six inches is smart if it will be used for commercial purposes. Once again, you can add to that if you want an even stronger commercial driveway.
How the Type of Soil Affects the Construction of Your Concrete Driveway
The driveway thickness levels we’ve discussed in this article are sufficient if the soil you’re building on is in good condition. That’s not always the case, however.
The soil on your property may not be capable of supporting the concrete right away. The firmness of the soil may be uneven in spots and that can cause the driveway to provide uneven support. It’s also a problem if the stretch of land you intend to build the driveway on is too soft. The concrete you lay down on top of the soft soil may sink further than expected and that can be problematic.
Does all of that mean that you cannot build a concrete driveway if you have soft soil on your property? No, but you do have to prepare the soil before you put the concrete on top of it. If you’re dealing with soft spots in the soil, dig them up first and then fill in the holes you create. Gravel or crushed rocks can work as fillers for the holes.
In situations wherein big stretches of the soil are soft, laying down layers of crushed rock is recommended. Lay down enough crushed rock to create a new layer that’s at least two inches thick. You can now rest the concrete over the crushed rock layer without worrying about your driveway sinking.
Adding a Slope to Your Concrete Driveway
Building a concrete driveway that’s completely flat is not a good idea. Water will just accumulate on top of the flat surface.
Having standing water near your car is never a good thing because it can lead to the tires slipping. Drive too quickly down a driveway covered in water and you can easily lose control of your vehicle.
Adding a slope to your concrete driveway is important. You don’t have to make the driveway especially steep, but a bit of a slope will facilitate improved water drainage. Slope your concrete driveway towards the street by at least an eighth of an inch per foot. Continue building the concrete driveway in that manner and the standing water should never be an issue for you.
Reinforcing Your Concrete Driveway
You may not be able to create the thick concrete driveway you want due to the dimensions of your property. For instance, building a driveway thicker than four inches may not be feasible given how your home connects to the street.
So, how can you create a sufficiently strong concrete driveway in that scenario? The solution is to rely on reinforcing materials.
Rebar and wire mesh are materials that can be used to reinforce a concrete slab. Most of the time, wire mesh will work as a reinforcing material for residential driveways. It should work well on concrete driveways that are no thicker than five inches.
Creating a Stronger Concrete Driveway with the Help of Control Joints
Driveways are routinely exposed to the elements. That makes them prone to cracking. Your driveway may become particularly vulnerable if it’s consistently exposed to extreme temperatures. To help mitigate the damage the elements may do to your concrete driveway, consider adding control joints. Control joints are cracks built into the driveway. Their job is to limit the damage done to the driveway itself.
You must find the right spots for the control joints if they are going to work as intended. They need to be spaced far enough apart to prevent any one crack from growing too large. Then again, placing them too far apart may limit their effectiveness too.
You should also be mindful of creating a pattern with the control joints. By lining them up in a distinct pattern, you could be unintentionally weakening certain points of the concrete driveway. How deep the control joints go is another important thing to account for. They should go about a quarter of the way into the concrete but no deeper than that.
Given how many factors you have to consider when control joints, planning ahead of time is a must. Plot out the target spots over the driveway and see if they make sense relative to each other.
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