Concrete Driveways: Expert Resources for Driveway Replacement
Carolina Driveways and More expertise is concrete driveways so, we’ve put together resources to help you determine whether a new concrete driveway is a great idea for you.
New Driveway Assessment
All driveways will eventually wear out. The lifespan of concrete driveways is on average over 20 years but many factors can greatly increase or diminish this estimate. The concrete mix, weather conditions, quality of installation and maintenance over the years all play a factor in the longevity of your driveway.
Reasons Why A Driveway Is A Great Idea
Desire to improve the value of your property
Compliment your curb appeal and property landscape
Create an entryway that is easy to maintain
Increase convenience as a homeowner
Create a space to clean the car
Create a safe area for children to play and ride bikes
Create a space to park a recreational vehicle
Looks uninviting (patchy, blotchy and faded)
Tired of the messiness of mud when it rains
Keep up with the Joneses (kidding)
Reasons Why You Need to Replace Your Driveway
Driveway is cracking and lifting creating tripping hazards
Concrete was poured at the wrong elevation and water is draining towards your home
Water is pooling and holding the water in areas over the driveway creating slipping or falling hazards
Driveway has more than one pothole increasing the likelihood of foundation damage
Driveway has alligator cracking, a pattern that looks like reptile scales, and covers the majority of the driveway’s surface
Driveway is more than 20 years and you are experiencing a combination of issues that require repair
When considering a driveway repair versus a replacement, it is often helpful to seek the advice of a reputable concrete contractor. A quick assessment of the driveway’s condition by a contractor can help you make an informed decision as to whether a repair would result in a long-term solution or a short-term fix. Here are some of the most common reasons we will recommend repairing a concrete driveway over replacing:
When To Consider Repair
You have a small crack (width of a quarter) that doesn’t connect.
One pothole that can be easily fixed
Crumbling edges can be added onto with additional edging
Faded color of concrete can be fixed by adding a sealant
Concrete Driveways: Things to Know About Cracks
A reputable concrete contractor should be able to diagnosis what type of cracking you have and whether repairing is necessary to protect the structural integrity.
Settling – This occurs when pockets of air are left in the ground under the concrete. Over time, concrete’s weight will cause them to dissipate, allowing the soil to sink. Most common cause is the slabs were poured without proper soil compaction or removal of a tree near the area.
Heaving – This occurs when the soil type below the concrete has a high absorption rate creating swelling during periods of saturation and shrinkage during dry periods. Most common soil type is clay.
Shrinkage – This occurs when the concrete is mixed with more water than needed with the dry components. As this water dissipates, the concrete particles move closer together, resulting in the slab’s shrinkage.
Overload – This occurs when an excessive amount of weight is placed upon the concrete causing it to crack. When you hear that a concrete mix that has a certain PSI (2000, 3000, 4000, etc) this refers to the pounds per square inch it can support before it cracks.
Premature Drying – This occurs when the top of the concrete slab loses moisture too quickly and causes the immediate surface to shrink differently than the underlying concrete. The early surface drying often results in craze cracking which is not a structural concern. Most common when surface was exposed during placement to high temperatures of air or concrete, low humidity, wind or a combination of these.
Your Guide to Driveway Surfaces
Search for “types of driveways” and the list of Driveway Replacement Options is long.
- Crushed Stone
- Pavers (Cobblestone, and others)
- Crushed Basalt
- Recycled Glass
- Green Lawn
- Tar and chip
- Exposed Aggregate
If you look around Charlotte though, you’ll see concrete, asphalt, pavers, and gravel used most frequently by homeowners.
Common Surfaces Used in Charlotte
- Pavers (Cobblestone, and others)
How to Choose A Driveway Surface
Before you choose a driveway material, it’s important to understand your options. We’ve put together a comparison chart to help you understand the differences in durability, maintenance, installation, and cost for Charlotte’s most common driveway materials. Download the comparison chart to help you choose what driveway material is best for you.
Hiring A Concrete Driveway Contractor: What to know, what to ask, what to observe.
Finding local driveway contractors is relatively easy online but choosing one to hire is often much harder. To help, we’ve pulled together questions we’ve been asked over the years by customers along with red flags we’ve seen in our own industry and shared them below as a way to help you compare each of the contractors you decide to consider.
What to know
Reputable concrete contractors are tradesmen. They have been properly trained to use heavy equipment, skilled to work with a very tricky material and know just how important accurate concrete mix ratios are to the durability of the driveway. An experienced tradesman uses this knowledge to build a durable product that can stand the test of time. Concrete driveways properly poured can last as long as 20-30 years. Be wary of the contractor that sells on price with a low price guarantee. Hard sell tactics are another reason to be cautious. Pro tip: Be sure to end every consultation with clarity and understanding of what you are and are not getting.
What to ask
To prepare, you will want to have a list of what to ask the contractors that you are considering. We recommend asking each of the contractors you are considering the same questions to be able to compare with an apple to apple comparison.
Questions for Contractors
Do you have experience with my type of project?
If Budget-Driven selections are available, make sure you ask to understand the impact on your estimate.
How thick is the concrete that is poured?
Will you be reinforcing the concrete?
Can you provide me a list of jobs you’ve completed that are close to where I live so I can check them out?
Can you provide references I could contact?
How soon can you start my project?
Will you need to obtain permits for my project?
Do you have a license and insurance?
What’s the expected process for my project?
Do you have a license and insurance?
How will you account for good water drainage?
What is the overall cost and payment schedule?
Are there any hidden costs that I should be aware of? Or additional costs not on the bid?
Will you be managing the project or do you have others who work with you?
How long will my project take?
What does the clean up look like?
Is there a work guarantee? Is it a guarantee in writing?
How long afterward will you have to wait to while the concrete cures before using the driveway?
How long afterwards will you have to wait to while the concrete cures before using the driveway?
What to observe
A concrete contractor should always be professional and on their best behavior when speaking with a residential homeowner. Observe their mannerisms and ask enough questions to get a sense for how it might be to work with them throughout your project. You want to hire someone that you can communicate effectively with during your project, especially if a challenge should arise.
Driveway Ideas to Improve the Curb Appeal of Your Home
Driveway ideas to “Welcome You” home. A driveway can definitely improve the appeal of your home. We’ve compiled and pinned inspiration sources on Pinterest from across the web for some of the best driveway ideas, finishes, driveway shapes and trends we could find to help kickstart your project planning.
Finishes for Concrete Driveways
The look of a concrete driveway can be altered completely depending on the type of concrete finishing you choose. Explore different types of finishes.
Decorative Driveway Ideas
Driveways don’t have to be merely functional. If you want to make a statement and take your curb appeal to a higher level, you’ll want to discover the decorative design options available for driveways.
America’s Cool Driveways
Okay, we know “cool” is subjective. But, we define “cool” as doing things a little differently than the norm. Check out some of America’s cool driveways that broke the mold.
The shape of your driveway can have a dramatic effect on your home’s curb appeal. View a variety of driveways shapes homeowners have chosen.
Current Trends in Modern Driveways
Thinking about a modern driveway design? Get inspiration from homeowners that chose a modern driveway design and layout for their home.
Concrete Driveways: The Average Cost
According to online sources, the national cost estimate for driveways is between $3 – $18 per square foot. A wide range like this could mean $1500 or $9000 for a 500-sq. foot one-car driveway. If you are looking for an estimate to determine whether it is in your budget to kickstart a new driveway project, we find this incredibly unhelpful. To help, we’ve broken down the factors that concrete contractors consider when providing an estimate for a concrete driveway replacement. We are also happy to provide a ballpark quote via email when you are in the planning stage and want a rough number specific to your conrete project before receiving an on-site estimate.
What Goes Into A Driveway Estimate?
Contractors consider the following factors when calculating the cost of a driveway: driveway dimensions, sub-base requirements, and driveway options.
The square footage of the project area will determine how much concrete is needed for the project. An on-site consultation will give a concrete contractor the ability to professionally measure the space for an accurate estimate.
Concrete contractors each have different approaches towards prepping a site for a driveway. Reputable contractors understand the type of soil and factor in the necessary sub-base prep work (ex. drainage featuers) into their estimate to ensure the driveway is built to last.
The industry’s standard driveway typically consists of 3.5″ thick concrete with a broom finish. A decorative finish, your property’s soil type or your desire to place a heavy recreational vehicle on the surface might require a thicker concrete. You might also desire a stately circular driveway. The driveway options you prefer and the needs of your project could raise or lower a driveway project estimate.