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Old 01-21-2012, 03:21 AM   #1
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First time cementing anything


My wife and I just bought a house that has a very long drive way. (Appox. 600ft in a U shape) The current surface looks like, for lack of a better term, compacted stone in dirt. The drive way is a hard surface but its just from years of being driven on and I feel you could put a shovel into it if you had to.

The expense to pave it is very high and I am looking into doing it myself but I would like to practice on a much smaller scale.

My small scale plan is to make a U shaped path that I can destroy later on. So here are my questions:

1. Do I have to dig out the area where the cement is going or can I make a frame around the area and fill with cement on top of the existing driveway material?

2. Is there a special bedding that needs to be in place under the poured cement or will compacted dirt be OK?

3. When making flex seams between two larger sections, what is the material you place between them? (Looks like a felt ribbon to me)

4. What is the largest section one can make before a flex seam is needed or what facilitates the need for a seam?

5. What type of cement is best for long, curved driveways?

Thanks

Last edited by Sartrean; 01-21-2012 at 03:28 AM.
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Old 01-21-2012, 03:57 AM   #2
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First time cementing anything


I will answer the best I can based on my experience.

Yes you will need to dig out because you need to install a base of about 4 inches of class 5 or crusher run. That will need to be tampted down.

You will need to use what's called a 5 bag mix

I have seen all sorts of different methods for seams. I live in the south and the seams are about 15 feet apart and all they used was pine lumber, which seems like a bad idea to me. When I lived up north we used fiber board for the seam. I poured 80' sidewalk a while back and I only used the fiber board where it met the driveway and then every 8' I just put in a groove.

I am only a DIYer so I am sure a pro will chime in

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Old 01-21-2012, 10:07 AM   #3
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First time cementing anything


Excellent thanks for the information. I will look into the materials you named .
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Old 01-21-2012, 10:29 AM   #4
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First time cementing anything


Point of terminology, cement refers to the binding agent in concrete, you are talking about a concrete driveway, not cement. A typical concrete driveway is about 4 inches thick, and must be placed on a strong, well drained foundation. This means you have to excavate and remove unsuitable soil beneath the driveway, including organic soil, clay, silt, wood, debris, and garbage. Usually you have to get down to original mineral soil, which is hopefully sand and gravel.

Once you have excavated unsuitable soil, you need to backfill with compacted structural fill, which is generally a mix of sand and gravel, with a relatively small amount of silt (typically 10 percent or less). This material is placed and you compact it to at least 90% Proctor density, which is always measured on a commercial job, but if you are doing this yourself, you rent a plate whacker and go over the soil in six inch lifts typically twice in each direction, good enough.

Then you form up for the concrete, add mesh or rebar at your disgression, place the concrete, vibrate in place, and let it cure for several days. You can cut the control joints typically every ten feet or so using a concrete cutter, usually done after a day or so of curing, but there are alternative techniques than can be used.

This is not particularly easy work, concrete is heavy, getting a good finish is surprisingly difficult, preparing the forms is more trouble than you might expect, and prepping the base is hard work, especially if you do not have the right tools. Unless you value your time at zero, you are not going to save much money doing this yourself, unless you cut corners, in which case you are likely to get poor results. For some reason, a lot of DIY folks think concrete work is easy and requires little skill, neither is true, it is hard work, and a good concrete mechanic is worth the price in my opinion.

As for trying your skills out on a small area, good idea. One of the things that makes large pours of concrete so difficult is the need to work fast before the concrete sets up, and the difficulty finishing a large area within a limited time window. Once the concrete truck arrives, they have a limited period of time before the concrete is too stiff to work, so they are going to expect you to be organized and ready to accept the concrete immediately, so you need plenty of trained help available. the alternative is to mix your own (hard work), and place small batches. This is OK, except you end up with lots of cold joints, which are prone to cracking, and you have excessive formwork.
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Old 01-21-2012, 10:40 AM   #5
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First time cementing anything


As Daniel said, cement is just one part of concrete. Think of it as the flour in a cake. The prep work mentioned above is at least as important as pouring the concrete. Lots of time, lots of labor, and specialized equipment. I would not pour a concrete drive without at least 4 competent helpers.And I work for a company that pours concrete.
Also, the idea of pouring a test section is a good idea to see what you are getting into, but you will find tearing it out harder than pouring it. In my area, asphalt is considerable cheaper than concrete. I happen to think concrete provides a better product, but the prep and cost are much higher also.
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Old 01-21-2012, 01:42 PM   #6
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First time cementing anything


Daniel

Thank you very much for taking the time to write out a very nice snap shot of what I am getting into. While I would never simplify a task, you definitely shed some light on the enormous task this would be for a two person job. I was planning on mixing my own and, since when you said " concrete truck" I got an adrenaline rush, I think me doing the mixing is the way to go if I do this at all.

Could you explain what a "cold spot" is just so I can understand.

Daniel

A big thanks to you as well. The information was invaluable and I thank you for your time. I take it I need a jack hammer to dig up my scale test?

How bad is asphalt compared to concrete?
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Old 01-21-2012, 04:46 PM   #7
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First time cementing anything


A cold joint (not spot) is the junction between two different pours of concrete made when the first pour has hardened. It is almost impossible to get good bonding between two separate pours once one has begun curing, unless you use specialized techniques. This is one reason it is common to make very large pours continuously, avoids the cold joints, which are often unacceptable in commercial work.

As for asphalt driveway, they are less expensive than concrete, typically less durable, and I am not much of an aesthetics expert, some like asphalt, some like concrete, some like brick driveways. My driveway is asphalt, it is relatively easy to repair, but not nearly as durable as concrete. Given a choice, I would make my driveway from textured concrete block, which can actually be a DIY project, although it is fairly costly, and still requires a lot of preparation work.
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Old 01-21-2012, 05:34 PM   #8
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First time cementing anything


A gravel drive is great. No need for concrete at all.
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Old 01-21-2012, 08:12 PM   #9
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First time cementing anything


Just wondering why are you thinking of replacing the existing hard surface? If it's holding up well and doesn't look bad it sounds like an ideal surface, that would just keep it. You're also going to get awfully tired of mixing concrete by hand for a driveway that big. It's going to take over 70 cubic yards of concrete (10+ trucks of concrete) to do it, figuring 600 feet 10 feet wide 4 inches thick.
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Old 01-21-2012, 08:22 PM   #10
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First time cementing anything


Where are you located??

In some areas, ready-mixed concrete is far superior, in other's it's the only real viable option. Either way, you won't be able to mix the concrete even remotely close to the same quality delivered by the ready-mix companies.

If you're truly ademant about paving it, get a bid for asphalt, which in not really a DI venture, but far cheaper than concrete.
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Old 01-21-2012, 08:27 PM   #11
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First time cementing anything


That would be interesting to see someone just try and do all this by hand.
For one thing it would take several supply house to just come up with the bags of concrete needed.
http://www.concretenetwork.com/concr...calculator.htm
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Old 01-21-2012, 10:13 PM   #12
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First time cementing anything


Quote:
Originally Posted by Msradell
Just wondering why are you thinking of replacing the existing hard surface? If it's holding up well and doesn't look bad it sounds like an ideal surface, that would just keep it. You're also going to get awfully tired of mixing concrete by hand for a driveway that big. It's going to take over 70 cubic yards of concrete (10+ trucks of concrete) to do it, figuring 600 feet 10 feet wide 4 inches thick.
It is more for looks than anything but also because even though it is rather compacted, it does get muddy when it rains or when light snow melts. From all of the posts this seems way above my knowledge base. Definitely reconsidering.
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Old 01-21-2012, 10:15 PM   #13
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First time cementing anything


Quote:
Originally Posted by jomama45
Where are you located??

In some areas, ready-mixed concrete is far superior, in other's it's the only real viable option. Either way, you won't be able to mix the concrete even remotely close to the same quality delivered by the ready-mix companies.

If you're truly ademant about paving it, get a bid for asphalt, which in not really a DI venture, but far cheaper than concrete.
I live in Michigan. I will look into asphalt even though its not as durable and see if it is a better option. Thanks
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Old 01-21-2012, 10:19 PM   #14
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First time cementing anything


Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption
That would be interesting to see someone just try and do all this by hand.
For one thing it would take several supply house to just come up with the bags of concrete needed.
http://www.concretenetwork.com/concr...calculator.htm
LOL ...point made. While I do have two large barns on the property, thats alot of bags.
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Old 01-22-2012, 03:26 AM   #15
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First time cementing anything


A 600 ft concrete driveway can't be done by 2 people, much less if they have no experience and much much less if they mix the concrete themselves.

Do your test run with a 6'x10' concrete pad, but don't plan on tearing it off later (that would be crazy), put it somewhere you can use it (at the entrance to a barn, for example). You will need about a pallet's worth of concrete bags, and by the time you're done, you'll have got any illusions of doing the driveway yourself out of your system.

Until you can afford to get it done in concrete by a competent crew, a gravel driveway will be more than adequate.
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