Concrete Driveways

A concrete driveway lends itself to a wide variety of design options that can make a dramatic difference in home landscaping and enhance property value.

Because concrete is so versatile, preferred for durability, appearance, low maintenance, and indicates quality construction from the first glance. A concrete driveway does it all.

Homeowners take great pride in the exterior of their home. The concrete driveway has become an essential part of a landscaping plan that imparts an inviting image. Concrete’s wide variety of texture, color, or patterns has elevated the driveway to the status of a landscape design element…meeting today’s homeowner’s exacting demands

Not only is concrete functional, it lends itself to a wide variety of design options…which can make a dramatic difference in home landscaping plans, as well as enhance property values. In addition to the traditional look, concrete can have the decorative appearance, feel, and color of brick, tile, slate, or stone. Exposed aggregate is another popular finish. Also, many other design choices are available. All of these choices complement a variety of exterior treatments of the house.

Concrete driveways have long been known to give trouble-free service to homeowners. The reason is simple. Concrete is enduring…many driveways last for 30 years and longer without major maintenance. Just as with many high-quality purchases, concrete costs less in the long run.

From the street to the garage, a personally designed concrete driveway not only adds visual satisfaction…but also adds long lasting quality and value to your home as well.

Planning

The quality of the completed concrete driveway always begins with good planning. Spending time at this stage is always a wise decision that can help to eliminate possible problems later on. One of the first things to consider is size.

The suggested width for a single-car driveway is 8 to 9 feet. For double width, plan to use 15 to 18 feet. If the distance from the street to a two or more car garage is long enough, the initial entry approach can be of single-car width and then widened near the garage to accommodate all car stalls. If space is available, extra parking or a turn-around area can be included. Also, the planning stage is the time to consider adding that concrete patio or porch addition.

As for thickness, non-reinforced pavement 4 inches thick is standard for passenger car driveways. For heavier vehicles, a thickness of 5 inches is recommended. To eliminate standing water, the driveway should be sloped towards the street a minimum of 1%, or 1/8 inch per foot for proper drainage.

Many Design Options

Today’s concrete can be formed into practically any shape, texture, pattern, or color. It’s a way of adding a new dimension of quality and elegance to your home, at a reasonable cost.

Pattern stamping is an exotic and colorful way to enhance ordinary concrete paving. Essentially, the driveway is cast-in-place concrete which has been colored and imprinted with a pattern designed to look like brick, tile, cobblestone, or other various patterns. Textured finishes include bromide, swirl, or exposed aggregate

Site Preparation

When the basic driveway design has been decided, the next step is site preparation. As an example, let’s assume that an existing asphalt driveway is being replaced with a traditional, broom-textured concrete driveway. In brief, this is how a typical site preparation works.

The gravel base is compacted with a vibratory plate compactor. For a new driveway, a gravel sub base is not needed, but the sub grade must be compacted in a similar manner.

Match the new driveway level with the existing garage slab and sidewalk. An isolation joint is needed where the drive is to meet these existing pavements. Typically ¼” to ½” thick pre-molded joint material is used to make this joint.

Ordering Quality Concrete

  • Ready mixed concrete for driveways is normally specified in accordance with American Standards for Testing and Materials specification ASTM C-94. By following the correct specifications and construction methods, it will help avoid problems such as random cracking. In brief:
  • Compressive strength – 4000 psi at 28 days is adequate strength for most climates
  • Air content – designate air content with a range of 5% to 7% in all climates. In addition to improving the long term durability of the concrete, air content also improves the workability, without the need for adding water.
  • Slump (moisture content of the concrete) – be sure to designate slump. For driveway paving, specify 4 inch slump. Slump greater than 5 inches should definitely be avoided.
  • Aggregates – designate the size of the coarse aggregate. Generally, ¾ or 1 inch is normally used. For a slightly higher fee, chert-reduced aggregate can be ordered to help prevent pop-outs.

Finishing

A concrete broom is used for the final finish. Before sweeping, the surface should be stiff enough to retain marks or grooves left by the bristles of the broom. A trowel finish is not recommended because it could leave the surface slippery and unsafe. The rougher broom finish improves traction.

Jointing

Joints in concrete pavements control the location and spread of cracks.

Aftercare

Two of the great advantages for using concrete are it’s durability and ease of care. We recommend applying a high quality sealer on all exterior concrete exposed to freeze/thaw cycles. The sealer helps protect concrete from two things: absorbing moisture and being damaged from numerous freeze/thaw cycles.

Penetrating sealers are clear, silane solutions that penetrate deeply and chemically react with cement surfaces. They offer the best protection from moisture penetration.

The Bottom Line is Quality

When all is said and done, the quality of a completed concrete driveway is dependent upon the workmanship of the paving contractor plus the quality of the concrete used in the project.

Stone/Pavers

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Patios

When it comes to patio surfaces, the choices abound. Patio surfaces can be not only functional, they can be beautiful as well. The right patio surface can last forever and can give you the appearance you desire.

Brick Patios

paverimage2Brick is a popular patio surface, and it works well with houses of just about any style. Its strength makes it ideal for outside use, and its shape means that you can use it to build additional structures, like planters and garden walls. Brick comes in a variety of sizes and colors, is moderately priced, and can be easily found at local home improvement centers or masonry suppliers.

Stone Patios

If you are going for a natural, untamed look, few surfaces will work as well as stone. Stone works with many different architectural styles. It also comes in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. You can get it as rough pieces of flagstone, or you can buy manufactured stone that comes in uniform dimensions and thicknesses. The geographical location where a stone was quarried will determine how hard it is. For example, some types of sandstone are as hard as marble, while other types are easily dented or scratched. Some stones are also more porous than others. Stones with lower porosity are more durable and last longer than stones that absorb lots of water. If you are considering stone, be sure to take into account the porosity, durability, and hardness of the stone.

Poured Concrete Patios

If you are looking for a smooth-surfaced patio and don’t want to spend a lot of money, concrete is the way to go. Concrete is durable, can be formed into just about any size and shape, and blends well with other surfacing materials. You don’t need to think gray and boring when it comes to concrete. It can be finished in many colors and textures, and can be decorated by pressing small stones or rounded rocks into it when it’s still wet. Concrete that is poured correctly is very durable and should last a lifetime. One drawback of concrete is that it can crack, especially in climates that have temperature extremes. Here at Johnston Masonry we will install the concrete correctly, using certain methods designed to prevent cracking.

Concrete Paver Patios

If you don’t want to pour concrete, concrete pavers work well and are available in a variety of different designs and shapes. They last indefinitely and generally don’t break or stain. Outdoor tile is also a beautiful patio surface choice, although it is labor intensive because it needs to be set into concrete.