How To Tell That Your Concrete Driveway Contractor Has Done A Great Job
Finding a good concrete driveway contractor is an important step. But telling whether the concrete driveway contractor has done a good job is equally important. Remember, a driveway project is an investment that adds the functionality of your home as well as its aesthetic appeal and value. However, a driveway is only worth the money if it is designed and constructed the right way.
During and after construction, you should inspect the contractor’s work. It is important that you know what to look for so that you can be sure that the contractor has done a great job.
The base course
During driveway construction, the concrete is not simply poured on the ground. Its foundation, also known as the base, has to be carefully prepared. The driveway should be constructed on stable soil, or it will start cracking and potholes will form on the surface.
You will see the contractor excavate the driveway project site and adding base materials such as hardcore and gravel. These materials ensure a strong base and reduce differential settling of the driveway. Excavating for a driveway does not really require any specialized equipment as the depth required is small – in most cases, the depth is 6 inches.
During concrete driveway construction, the contractor should use steel reinforcement. The steel reinforcement adds the structural capacity of the driveway, making it more durable. The reinforcement is very important if the driveway will be exposed to heavy traffic such as garbage trucks.
The reinforcement most contractors prefer is a steel wire mesh. They can also use steel rebar placed in a grid pattern with 12-inch gaps between the bars. Blocks are placed under the reinforcement mesh or bars to center it within the concrete. The newest reinforcement technology is using synthetic fibers to reduce shrinkage cracks. A contractor is doing a good job is they use both steel reinforcement and synthetic fibers.
Please note that the steel reinforcement does not prevent cracks. Instead, it holds the crack together preventing the crack from developing to potholes.
Sealers are applied to the exterior of the concrete slab. It is mostly used on concrete that will be exposed to freeze-thaw conditions. Sealers protect the concrete from chemical exposure, moisture, and grease or oil stains. Make sure that the contractor uses a high-quality sealer on decorated concrete to both protect the decoration and to enhance its color.
There are two types of sealers contractors use – penetrant sealers and film-former sealers. The penetrant sealer is the better of the two.
Your concrete driveway contractor has done a good job if they have used joints. Random cracks are inevitable on any concrete surface. But, joints help to prevent cracks. They are put in wet concrete so that as the concrete cures, it will crack through the joints rather than through the surface of the driveway.
In a four-inches thick concrete driveway, the maximum spacing of the joints should be 10 feet. The depth of the joint should be a quarter of the concrete thickness. So, a 6 inches thick concrete driveway should have joints 1.5 inches deep.
Another way to tell a well-constructed driveway is checking the thickness. The thickness is dependent on the soil in the driveway project site. On expansive soils, contractors pour 6-inch thick concrete. On stable soil, the thickness can be as little as four inches. The best way to be certain of the driveway thickness needed is to hire a structural engineer. Unfortunately, they charge hundreds of dollars for soil testing.
Generally, the thickness should not be less than 4 inches. Most residential driveways do not experience heavy traffic. Therefore, there is no need for spending your hard-earned money on the services of a structural engineer. In any case, a professional concrete driveway contractor should know the ideal thickness required in your area.
How has the contractor handled the transitions? Where the driveway concrete meets other concrete areas like the garage floor, streets, and sidewalks, the transitions should be smooth. Unsmooth transitions such as lips, bumps, and steps are trip hazards.
Water should not settle on the driveway. The driveway should also be constructed with a slope that drives water away from the garage. If the contractor does not plan for the drainage properly, you might have to repair the whole driveway soon. Pour water on the driveway and observe what happens.
A good contractor stands behind their work. So, they will fix mistakes immediately.
Finding a concrete driveway contractor near you
Now that you know what makes a good driveway, it is time to find a concrete driveway contractor near you. Fortunately, you are in the right place. We have listings of all concrete driveway contractors in all 50 states. On this page select your state, then click on your area.