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Finish a driveway

Concrete is probably the most commonly used man made material on the planet. It is used to make foundations, building structures, pavements, motorways and roads, overpasses, blocks for walls, and footings for gates, fences and poles. In its most common form, concrete is made up of cement, construction aggregate (generally gravel and sand) and water. By far the most common and most important cement in modern construction is Portland cement, which is a mixture of limestone, certain clay minerals, and gypsum, in a high temperature process that drives off carbon dioxide and chemically combines the primary ingredients into new compounds.

The process of concreting major structures is mostly done by construction companies. For simple concreting work such as driveways however, the do-it-yourself manner is fast gaining its followers due to the availability of materials and tools needed for the job. These instructions are intended for use by the do-it-yourself-er. Although I am addressing an inexperienced layman, I intend for this paper to be used by readers who may have had other concreting job experience.

STEP 1: HOW MUCH CONCRETE DO I NEED? The first step is to work out how much concrete is required for your driveway.

Since concrete is measured and purchased in cubic meters, it is important that that you calculate your volume accurately to minimize wastes or shortage. A. Work out the area Area in square meters = Length (m) x Width (m). Using a typical driveway as an example: Area = 10m x 3m = 30m? B. Decide the thickness of your driveway The thickness of a driveway should not be less than 100mm. C. Calculate the Volume Volume in cubic meters = Area (m2) x Thickness (m) 1000 Using a thickness of 100mm as an example: Volume = 30m? x 100mm = 3. 0 m3 1000 It is wise to add a little extra in your order for wastage and variations in depth.

STEP 2: ORDER YOUR CONCRETE Check your locality for reliable suppliers of your concrete requirement. Allow yourself enough time to finish Steps 3, 4, 5 and 6 and arrange delivery of the concrete at an agreed time. The person you call will know the type of concrete that will be best for your project. It is best that you place your order two to four days before it is required. Lead time varies depending on the supplier. It is also wise that you place the order on the basis that you confirm on the day, a couple of hours before delivery is expected.

This will allow you to change the time of delivery if something has not gone according to plan, giving you time to finalize the quantity of concrete you will be needing. STEP 3: WHAT DO I NEED? The following are the tools you will need. Check your tool shed, you might have some of them. If you don’t, you can always hire your tools from most plant hire organizations. Get your neighbors and to help you so your project will proceed faster and smoother. A. Timber for formwork and pegs. B. Builder’s barrows (with inflated rubber tires). Small garden barrows with metal wheels are not suitable for this work.

As a guide, you will need two barrows for the placement of one load of concrete say 20 meters from the position of the truck. C. Planks to wheel the barrow over if the ground is uneven or soft. D. One or two square-mouthed shovels. E. Screed board – a smooth, heavy board about 900mm wider than the formwork F. Wooden float (a flat piece of wood with a handle) for finishing the surface G. Edging tool for making cross-joints and edging. H. A 15mm grooving tool I. Mallet or heavy hammer J. Enough waterproof building paper, plastic sheeting or sand to cover the areas to be concreted. K. Spirit level

STEP 4: FOUNDATION Mark out the area you want to concrete. To do this, hammer some 25mm square wooden pegs into the ground. Then stretch a strong string, or twine, between the pegs. Remove loose soil from the marked-out area. Fill holes in the ground with stones, broken bricks or any clean fill. If the ground is soft, spread sand or ashes over it to make a better base. After putting your formwork, use sand for final leveling. When the whole area is already flat, compact it by rolling, walking or driving over it, and hosing it lightly. The more it settles the better the foundation for the concrete.

STEP 5: FORMWORK “Formwork” is the mold what supports the concrete until it has set. The best material for this is timber at least 25mm thick with its width equal to the concrete thickness. Structural plywood or hardboard can also be used for this purpose. Place the forms along the borders marked out with string, and secure them in position with stout pegs driven into the ground inside and outside the forms. The outside pegs should be placed at more frequent intervals and the forms nailed to them. The forms must be sturdy, smooth on the top edge, and well supported with stout pegs.

Test for the strength of formwork in its ability to withstand pressure by giving is a good kick. See to it that the depth of the formwork is enough to hold the thickness of concrete to be placed and to prevent oozing of concrete beneath. Coat the formwork lightly with some thin oil or form oil from the hardware store for easy removal afterwards. The night before the concrete pouring, the ground and the forms should be thoroughly soaked and dampened again before the concrete truck arrives. The ground should be damp but not muddy, to allow the concrete to adhere to the ground more easily.

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