How to build make a concrete driveway

Make your driveway about 9 feet wide and 4 inches thick for passenger cars or 5 inches thick for an occasional truck. To calculate the amount of concrete needed, see Concrete. While planning, check with your municipality’s building department about local regulations. Arrange for delivery of ready mixed concrete. On the delivery day have several helpers on hand.

Drive a stake at each driveway corner, 8 inches wider than intended: stake from garage apron to sidewalk or, if there is none, to the street. Mark the length by running string from stake to stake on each side. Using the string as a guide, drive additional stakes on each side every 10 feet.

Drive two stakes 10 feet apart on the street side of the walk. Measure 19 feet down the walk from these stakes. Drive stakes at these points. Hammer a nail partway into the top of each stake. Tie string to each nail and fasten a stake to each string’s free end; the strings should be 19 feet long. Use them as radii to mark off curves at staked at 1-foot intervals.

With a backhoe excavate the apron to-sidewalk area 5 inches (for cars) or 6 inches (for trucks). Between the sidewalk and street, excavate 10 inches; slope the excavation toward the street. Fill the excavations with 4 inches of gravel. Level and compact the gravel with a tamp.

To stake the formwork, drive a 2 x 2 stake into the ground at either side of the apron, 9 feet 3 inches apart. Drive four more, two on each side of the walk (observing the same width). As before, use a string guide to position the other stakes, this time at 4-foot intervals. Mark the curved portion from the walk to the street, this time with a 15-foot radius. Again stake at intervals of 1 foot.

Line 2 x 6 form boards in the stake outlined area (apron to walk) and fasten them to the stakes with duplex head nails. Where forms meet, secure their ends with a 1 x 6 board, backed by a stake and a rock for added support. Wipe the insides of the forms with motor oil for easy removal after the concrete pour. For the curved portions use 1/4-inch plywood the same height as the curb and the walk.

After you’ve ascertained that the driveway will be level, adjust for drainage by raising the forms nearer your house 1 inch higher than the other side; use a crowbar.

Dampen the area and line it with tar paper or plastic sheeting. Place 2 x 6 construction boards, supported by stakes, at 10-foot intervals. Place expansion joints (a material you buy from a masonry supplier) on each side of the walk and where the driveway meets the street.

Have the truck pour one section. Strike off, then remove the adjoining construction board and have the truck pour the next, and so on. Later you’ll cut control joints where the boards were. Wearing gloves, hand shape the slope of the curved area from sidewalk to curb.

Concrete exerts tremendous lateral pressure as it is being poured and as it hardens. Build a formwork of sturdy, straight boards to contain it. The desired thickness, size, shape, and purpose of the concrete should determine the formwork’s dimensions. Before building formwork, call your municipality’s building department to find out the local requirements and whether your formwork must be inspected.

To guide excavation and formwork building for a rectangular slab, outline the intended area with four lengths of twine. Extend the twine 4 feet beyond each corner and tie it to the stakes driven there. Check for squareness by measuring diagonally, corner to corner; if the diagonals are equal, the corners are square.

Outline the shape by driving 2 x 2 stakes (1 foot long for hard ground; up to 2 feet for soft) into the prepared ground at 4-foot intervals. Warning: wooden stakes are likely to split while being hammered into rocky terrain; steel stakes are worth the extra cost. Wipe one side of your 2 x 6’s (for a 4 inch slab) with motor oil, then place them (oil sides inward) within this perimeter; use wider lumber to make a thicker slab. Check in both directions that they are level.

Fasten the end stakes to the forms with duplex-head nails (they are easier to extract later). Check again for Duplex-head nail squareness of the shape-this time by placing a square tool in each corner of the formwork. If the tool and the corners don’t exactly meet, reposition the stakes until they do and realign the boards. Recheck for level; correct by hammering the corner stakes at the higher end. Nail the remaining stakes to the form boards. Drive in extra stakes where boards join, and nail the three surfaces together.

If the formwork wiggles under hand or foot pressure, give it additional support with kicker stakes. Resting the kicker against the outer edge of the board, at a generous angle, place your foot at its base to guide it while you hammer it into the ground. Nail the kicker to the top side of the board.

Make curved forms from 1/4 inch thick plywood. Wipe one side with motor oil. Curve the plywood (oiled side inward) and place it in the corner of a rectangular formwork, resting against the forms.

Push the bowed center of the plywood into the desired position, then drive a stake on the inside of the curve to hold it while you nail it to the two forms, using about two dozen 3/4-inch roofing nails. Drive additional stakes against the outside of the curve at 1 foot intervals, then nail them to the plywood; brace the outer curve with dirt. Rasp the plywood ends so that they blend into the straight forms. Remove the stake inside the curve.