Sunday, September 1, 2013

How to Pour Our Driveway

This is more of a brief overview than a how-to that gives some visual ideas of how this process unfolded for my husband and I.

Step 1: Dig

First, make sure you have access to a skid-steer. If you have to make repairs to it while you work, know that it is always better to break the machine than to break your back. Our driveway began by getting rid of tons of river rock and dirt that lay in the path of a future 7" thick by 11' x 81' concrete driveway. The digging step also involved creating a huge pile of dirt and rock in our backyard. This required moving the dirt again by dumping it into a rented dump trailer and driving a few miles south of town to dump it at the quarry of a local sand and gravel company.

6 loads and 10 hours of dumping, driving, shoveling and fixing the skid-steer later, one tired husband and one relieved wife were happy to see the dirt gone. To say I am proud of his efforts--learning to drive and pull such heavy loads with a trailer, fixing a number of hydraulic hoses on the skid-steer, tediously transferring the dirt from the pile to the trailer without over-turning the machine--is an understatement.

Step 2: Apply Surewall to Foundation

This step was a day's worth of work and a job that needed to be done. Once we were able to remove the old cement coating that was supposedly helping keep the house foundation together we applied a product we call "Surewall". It is like concrete in that you mix it with water and it dries to a hard surface. The point is to give added support to our 100 year-old foundation bricks.

"Beach Hat Construction" CEO inspects the area.

Step 3: Place Sand

Again, another great time to have a skid-steer. The sand we needed had to get piled in our backyard, moved around the south side of our house and then dumped and spread evenly all along the north side of our house. A friend drove by and saw us working in our new "beach" and wondered when "Beach Hat Construction" was going to get this project finished. We encouraged him to come join the party. Funny thing is that he never stopped by...

Step 4: Install Forms and Rebar

This step took more brains than brawn, and I will have to say I claimed the "dumb end" of the tape measure quite frequently. A lot of calculating and recalculating was needed before we got the angle of the forms level and sloped just right to allow water to run off in the directions we needed.

Step 5: Pour (and Pump) Concrete

This is when the anticipation, excitement and nervousness set in. The night before the big day, we both felt a sort of impending doom that would either make or break us. You don't want to mess this up, otherwise, you have 21 cubic yards of very heavy, solid material to deal with.

Given the location of our driveway, the best solution to get the concrete in the right place was to hire a concrete pumper. This meant that the concrete got pumped from the truck through a long hose. This also meant that the person managing the hose had to use every ounce of strength they had to hang on to the handle-less hose as hundreds of pounds of concrete shot out the end.

Thankfully, we had a new device at our disposal--an electric power screed attachment for our screed board. This made pulling that board over the concrete so much easier. We vibrated the board from the west to the east end of the driveway smoothing out the concrete as we moved. 

Step 6: Finish Work

Once we were done with pumping and pouring all the concrete, it was time for bull floating, edging, brooming and other finish work. It was fairly manageable to complete except for the area between our house and our neighbor's to the north. 

Thanks to our neighbor's foreman efforts, we knew exactly where to go and what to do.

In Conclusion

We started at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning and finished the entire project around noon. The afternoon ended with a well-deserved lunch and everyone heading their separate ways--myself, husband and in-laws to a 2-day, 150 mile cycling excursion in Iowa and my parents back to their home. Here's to a convenient (and typical) way to park and store our vehicles!