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Concrete Driveway Construction: What Do I Need to Know?

If you are installing a new concrete driveway, there are some basic construction details you should know. Use these standards as discussion points with your contractor so you can be sure your driveway is getting installed for maximum longevity and durability.

Subgrade Preparation
In order for your concrete driveway to last for years and years, the first steps in preparing the subgrade are critical. Your subgrade should be evenly compacted. A standard driveway is 4” thick of concrete. It should be 4” thick throughout and should not vary 3-4”.

Correctly Placed Joints
Joints are placed in concrete to help prevent cracking. They can be incorporated into patterns and designs to be somewhat disguised, but they are a necessary part of your driveway’s construction. Joints should be at least ¼ of the concrete’s thickness. A 1” deep joint should be created in the concrete in a 4” thick driveway. There is also proper spacing that should be followed for the joint placement. On a 4” thick driveway, joints should be spaced no farther than 8’-12’ apart.

A freshly poured concrete driveway should have reinforcement with either wire mesh, or steel bars. Steel bars are often placed in a grid pattern. Both types of reinforcement should be placed on blocks to keep it in the center of the concrete. Reinforcing your concrete does not prevent or eliminate cracks.

Proper Drainage
To eliminate standing water or puddles, all concrete driveways should slope ¼” per running foot away from the home. If proper drainage cannot be constructed, a drain should be installed at the lowest point of the concrete to collect the water.

The suggested width for a single-car driveway is 8-9 feet. For double width, plan to use 15-18 feet, according to the Portland Cement Association.