Concrete driveways can last for more than 20 years if maintained properly. Considering that a driveway gets a lot of use, you want concrete that is dense so that it wears longer. Concrete surfaces are harder and stronger than driveways paved in asphalt, usually require less maintenance and stand up to weather conditions better. Another advantage of laying a concrete driveway is that you can save money on installation by doing much of the work yourself.
Contact the zoning and building code inspector or enforcement officer in your community to find out about specific regulations and permit requirements. You likely will be required to provide a sketch of the project.
Remove grass and dirt from the ground surface digging 4 to 6 inches down, depending on the thickness of the driveway you want. Most standard concrete driveways are 4 or 5 inches thick.
Build the forms. Lay two boards parallel so that the inside edges of the boards form the sides of the driveway. Use 2-inch by 4-inch or 2-inch by 6-inch lumber for form boards.
Cut stakes from 1-inch by 2-inch or the 1-inch by 4-inch boards using a circular saw. Each stake should be 18 inches long, cut at one end to an angled point measuring about six inches.
Drive stakes into the ground at the ends of each form board. Space additional stakes every four feet along the side forms to provide support. Stakes should be even with the top edge of the form boards.
Locate the highest point in the ground. Raise the ends of the boards two inches above that point. Use a carpenter's level to make sure that the tops of the boards are level before raising the opposite ends of the boards to the desired pitch. Plan the driveway to slope away from the garage for adequate for drainage.
Hold the side forms in place with stakes, driving in stakes about every 3 feet. Nail the stakes to the boards. Drive in stakes wherever two form boards butt up against each other, nailing a stake to both boards.
Check to make certain that the cross forms for between concrete sections are level. Using cross forms will allow you to complete one section of the driveway at a time. Cross-joints should be placed about eight to ten feet apart.
Cut wire mesh to fit between the forms. Check all measurements again after all form boards are in place. Use stones to lift up the reinforcing mesh half way between the grade and the top of the form boards.
Apply a coat of motor oil to the form boards to prevent the wood from absorbing water in the concrete mixture. This also prevents damage to the edges of the concrete when removing the form boards.
Order the concrete. Provide the concrete supplier with the dimensions for the driveway including the length, width and depth. He will calculate how much concrete you will need.
Level the concrete with shovels once it has been poured. Have only one section of concrete poured at a time. Start at the garage so that you can work your way out toward the street. Work quickly before the concrete begins to set. Use a trowel to smooth the surface spreading the concrete evenly along the drive.
Tamp down on the concrete using a board with a straight edge. Drag the board across the top of the width of the driveway working from one end to the other. This is known as screeding.
Finish by using a coarse brush or broom to groove the concrete to provide traction when it is wet. Smooth concrete surfaces are slippery. Grooving is also helpful for drainage.
Cover the wet concrete with burlap for curing. Keep the concrete wet for a week. Remove the forms once the concrete has had several days to harden.
The more slowly that concrete is allowed to dry, the stronger it will be. Make sure the concrete is thoroughly dry before walking or driving on the surface. If practical, give the new concrete 1 to 2 weeks to cure. Mixing concrete yourself can save you some money, but it is hard work and you may not be able to mix it fast enough yourself. Although it will cost you a few more dollars, having concrete delivered already mixed will save you both time and effort.