To be honest, installing or replacing a concrete driveway is a massive job that most homeowners may be keen to leave to the pros. But if you’re the type that enjoys DIY, there’s no reason you can’t tackle this home improvement project. And you can definitely save some money (and earn bragging rights) in the process. That said, there is some skill and know-how involved in prepping, pouring, and finishing any concrete installation. And while you’ll want to find in-depth guidebooks or tutorials that go through the process step-by-step, there are a few things you should know going in that may not be covered. Here are some tips to help you get your DIY concrete driveway construction off the ground, so to speak.
- Prep work. When preparing for your driveway installation, you need to do more than calculate the amount of concrete required for the job. Whether you’re removing your existing driveway to replace it with a new one, you’re installing a totally new driveway, or you’ve decided to reposition the concrete, you need to first make sure that you won’t disrupt any utilities or endanger yourself in the process. By calling the phone, gas, power, and sewage companies in your area, you can ensure that you won’t hit any cables or piping when you start your driveway construction.
- Layout. Once you’ve removed any existing driveway materials, it’s time to figure out where you’re new driveway will go, and you need to create the layout before you start digging. So create a 2D rendering using graph paper or a suitable program, and then place stakes along the intended area where your new driveway will go. This can help you to make sure the placement is right, get the okay from utility companies, and plan for proper drainage before you even start.
- Season. Concrete construction is not a single-day process. Even an experienced crew expects to spend 1-2 weeks creating a concrete driveway, including prep work, pouring, and allowing the concrete to set. And that’s for a simple project. As an inexperienced individual, you should anticipate even more time, and choosing the right season is essential to ensuring the process goes as smoothly as possible. The best time of year for concrete construction will fall outside of temperature extremes. Although you might assume the middle of summer is your best bet, the truth is that you don’t want your concrete to start curing before you’ve had a chance to smooth it out. Nor do you want to risk heat stroke. Spring or fall is preferable, provided storms during these seasons are rare in your region.
- Scheduling. Some tasks are made much easier through the use of equipment rentals or a little professional help. Actually pouring the concrete is one such activity. You can definitely mix, pour, and spread concrete on your own, but having a cement truck (and seasoned operators) on the job will significantly reduce time and hassle. So you should to think about scheduling needed services well in advance.
- Finishing touches. These days, driveway construction could include a lot more than simply pouring and smoothing your concrete. With options for staining and stamping you could easily create a custom surface that looks like anything from bricks or mosaic tile to leather or wood. But this is one part of the process you might want to seek out affordable concrete contractors for. The knowledge and skill required to achieve a specific faux appearance in concrete go beyond what the average homeowner can reasonably accomplish.