Begin by considering the cost of the driveway over its lifetime. A good quality concrete driveway will last a lifetime with little or no maintenance. Asphalt driveways need periodic sealing coats to slow down age related cracking. Even properly constructed residential asphalt driveways will deteriorate more quickly due to environmental influences than due to vehicle traffic. If you consider the cost of surface and crack sealers and the shorter life-span of the asphalt, concrete will cost much you less in the long run.
Like all other materials, concrete will slightly change in volume when it dries out. This change in volume brings about tensile stresses within the concrete, which causes it to crack. This is the reason that contractors put joints or cuts in concrete driveways and patios to allow the concrete to crack in a neat, straight line in the joint or cut, allowing it to move when the volume of the concrete changes due to shrinkage. The changing weather conditions may also contribute to cracking with the risk most likely on warm days, dry days with low humidity and/or windy days.
Concrete is strong in compression (squashing) and weak in tension (stretching). The introduction of steel reinforcement in concrete improves the strength of concrete in tension. In a slab-on-ground, reinforcement increases the tensile strength and helps control the width of shrinkage cracks.
Concrete hardens as a result of hydration, that is the chemical reaction between cement and water. Hydration occurs only if water is available and if the concrete's temperature stays within a suitable range. After placing concrete, the surface needs to be kept moist for a period of time to permit the hydration process. This period is referred to as the curing period and is usually 5-7 days after placing conventional concrete.
A minimum of 4 to 5 inches is recommended. Thickness is the major factor (even more than the strength of the concrete) in determining the driveway's structural capacity. Increasing your driveway's thickness from 4 inches to 5 inches will add 20% to your concrete cost, but the additional inch of concrete will add almost 50% to load-carrying capacity of your driveway.
Periodically sealing a concrete driveway will protect it from water or chemical absorption. This will make it much easier to clean accidental spills and will also help prevent the occurrence of surface defects. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for sealing concrete.
6 Hewitson Road
Stoney Creek, ON.
Business: (905) 643-1735
Residence: (905) 945-0117
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