How to Lay a Concrete Driveway

What You'll Need
Frame wood
Chicken wire
Fill dirt or gravel
Wood stakes
Tape measure
Carpenters level

There are many reasons a homeowner may want to know how to lay concrete. One of the more common reasons may be to construct a driveway that is more attractive, more durable, and easier to maintain. But laying concrete, even in a simple, flat driveway, is not the easiest project to do properly. It will, though, be much less of a challenge if you have the right tools, materials, and instructions.

Step 1 - Planning Your Driveway

Decide on the area in which you'll be laying your driveway. Plan how you'll remove any excess soil from the driveway when you level the ground. Check with utility companies to see if utility lines are be buried there. If they are, you'll need to know how deep they are buried. If shallow, you may need to have these lines buried deeper or have them relocated. Locate obstacles you may need to remove, such as shrubbery, trees, or existing asphalt or concrete slabs that might be buried. If you will need a loader or a truck to move dirt from the area, reserve them in advance. If you need fill gravel or dirt, you'll need to schedule that.

Step 2 – Preparing to Level Your Ground

What will the width and length of your driveway be? What will its square footage be? You need to know these figures in order to know how much concrete, frame wood, and fill gravel or dirt you'll need. Mark the driveway sides with wood stakes and string. Use markers such as bright paint that won't be hidden or moved as you begin digging in the driveway space. If necessary, drive 4 foot lengths of rebar into the ground along the planned border of your driveway.

Step 3 – Digging Your Form Trench

The easiest way to dig your form trench will be to rent a backhoe. If you do, you'll need to clearly mark the area where your form is to be dug. If your budget doesn't allow for rental of a back hoe, you may want to enlist help to dig. Be sure to pile any soil you may remove outside of the driveway area. Otherwise, you might have to move it again before you pour your driveway slab.

Step 4 – Building Your Support Rails and Surface

For your wood forms, use 2x4 lumber for support rails, and pound wood stakes into the ground to support them and keep them from being pushed out of line. If the ground is soft with fresh dirt where you'll lay your concrete, consider using a tamper to compact dirt. Dump, spread, and level a load of gravel, then spread a layer of chicken wire for support.

Step 5 – Pouring Your Concrete

If you've ordered ready-mix concrete, have it delivered and spread it as it's poured. When it's spread, use a long 2x4 and level it to be sure the concrete surface is even. Spread a plastic sheet over it and leave it to dry overnight.