Detailed Guide to Choosing Concrete for Your Driveway

September 30

A concrete driveway is an excellent addition to your property. However, there are several options when it comes to the type of concrete for your property before you even hire concrete design services in San Diego to realize your aesthetic ideas. This blog post will discuss what type of concrete is good for driveways and how thick it should be for different climates.

Which concrete is good for driveways?

When installing a concrete driveway, you want it to last as long as possible. Though any type of concrete will hold up to normal wear and tear, not all types are equally suited for every requirement. The best type of concrete depends on the desired uses and budget of the person installing it. Here’s a guide to the available choices:

1. Standard or Economy Mix 

This is usually a mixture of portland cement, sand, gravel and other aggregate materials combined with water in specific proportions to make standard-weight concrete – typically 80 pounds per square foot. This type of concrete works well as a driveway, but it can break or crumble more easily than other types.

2. Lightweight Concrete 

One way to increase the strength of the standard mix is to replace some of the water with air. The result is lightweight concrete, which has been around for decades and contains about one-third less cement than standard mixes. A cubic yard (9 feet x 9 feet x 3 feet) of portland cement weighs 4,000 pounds; in comparison, a cubic yard of lightweight concrete would weigh only 2,900 pounds because it contains 27% less cement per square foot. 

3. High-Early-Strength Concrete 

This type of concrete is stronger than either standard or lightweight mixes when it first sets up, which means the time from the applying finishing touches to actually driving over the surface is shorter.  In fact, some high-early-strength formulas allow you to drive across them as early as 30 minutes after finishing the job. However, because it starts out so strong, this type is more likely to crack under excessive pressure or settle more than standard mixes over time. 

4. High-Performance Concrete 

This concrete is designed to resist the effects of de-icing salts on both new and existing driveways, which can severely corrode steel reinforcement bars. It also has more cement than typical mixes, so it’s denser and heavier. With new construction, this type of mix will give you the longest-lasting driveway. However, it isn’t ideal for driveways that need to be installed quickly.

How thick of concrete should a driveway be?

Unlike the concrete patio and its design, a driveway should be at least six inches thick. More is better, but too much material can make the surface weak and unstable. A good rule of thumb is to construct the base using a gravel subbase about three times as thick as you want your finished top course to be. So if you want the top layer of concrete to measure four inches, build up the subgrade with gravel measuring 12 inches before adding mortar or other stabilizing materials. 

Where can I find professional concrete design services in San Diego?

There are a lot of concrete design ideas and many ways to highlight your driveway. If you’re looking to spruce up your backyard, our team of experienced professionals at Pacific Dreamscapes has the perfect solution for you. In addition to driveways, we can also enhance it with a state-of-the-art concrete patio or water features that will turn any space into an oasis!  We realize that you’re busy, so take advantage of your free time and have fun with your family at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park while we take care of it all! Get in touch with us now!