How to Plan your Concrete Path, Patio or Driveway

Concrete is the ideal material for any construction that is supposed to last a very long time while enduring substantial heavy duty use. Made of particles of stone or what is known as aggregate, cement and sharp sand mixed with water, concrete is hard, durable and it also has a nice finish. Unless you go wrong with any of the ingredients, concrete itself doesn’t have any unpleasant aesthetics. The eventual outcome is a strong foundation that can be ideal for pathways, patios and driveways. Concrete is one of the quintessential building blocks of residential, commercial and industrial properties.

Facts about Concrete

Once you mix the right proportions of cement, sharp sand and aggregate or particles of stone with water, you pour the mixture where you need the path, patio and driveway. You let the mixture rest as it starts to harden in around two hours. After that the material or concrete in the making cannot be worked on. It will be sturdy and have no malleability. However, it would not be as hard as what it eventually must be. It takes a few days for the concrete to be super strong, which is why it is so widely used. For the hardening to continue there must be adequate moisture in the mix. Else, the structure may not be one big solid block of concrete. This is achieve by a little watering and ensured at the outset by getting the mix right.

The exact recipe of the mix depends on the quality of the concrete you need given the purposes you have in mind. The thickness, total area and the composition will be influenced by what you are using it for and more specifically the weight the material must endure. For a patio or pad that will host a lightweight shed, perhaps made of wood, will require a concrete foundation of about 100mm depth. For block, brick or stone garage, the foundation must be 150mm of sub-base depth of compacted hardcore and there should be a 125mm concrete pad. The edges of such a pad should have more depth to provide more support to the walls. The depth should be at least 200mm.

Any concrete foundation or surface must have a slope. It should not have a sharp gradient but a gentle slope to allow water flowing away from the building or structure to the drains nearby. If you are installing a concrete foundation or structure along the wall of a property, then the surface should be around 150mm or farther below the damp proof course. For heavy loads like driveways, the concrete foundation must have a steel grid that should be at least half its depth.

The Recipes for the Mix

You can buy Easy Mix from a reliable brand. You don’t need to know the recipe, you don’t need to mix the ingredients and you don’t have to deal with the uncertainty of what might turn up.

  • You may very well mix concrete by hand but that would limit how much you can blend. Small amounts are workable without any tools or additional pair of hands. You can prepare concrete like you would prepare mortar, mix the ingredients as they are being added and you attain even consistency. The mix should not be too sloppy or too dry. You can use a shovel to test the consistency. When you scoop up a substantial portion of the mix, it should stay still on the shovel but be moist enough so it can slide down the shovel when you tilt it.
  • You can use a mixer if you want. You can pour in the water, add half of the sand and half of the aggregate and then pour in all the cement. As the mixer works on the ingredients, you can add more water if the consistency is not as desired. You can then add the remaining aggregate and sand if necessary. Check the mix and add more water if you need. Average mixers require twelve or fourteen shovelfuls of aggregate, two or three shovelfuls of cement and sand depending on how much consistency you need. Usually, two or three buckets of water would be enough.
  • You can buy ready mixed concrete as well. You can order as much or as little concrete you want. You will get the ready mixed concrete delivered to your address or site in a lorry. You can use wheelbarrows to carry the concrete from the lorry to the exact place where you would pour it. Remember that your site must be ready to have the concrete poured right after the lorry reaches the address. Don’t let the concrete sit in there or in the lorry as it will start to harden and you wouldn’t be able to work on it.

How much Concrete would you need?

To know how much concrete you need, you should know the surface area of the path, driveway or patio. Get the surface area in square metres. Consider the depth or thickness of the foundation you need and you will get the volume of concrete you need in cubic metres. You should increase the volume in cubic metres by a tenth to factor in possible wastage. If you get fractions or decimals, you should round up to the closest higher cubic metre. If you don’t have squares or rectangular and oval shapes, if you have polygons or irregular shapes that don’t really have a geometric name, then you should draw the layout on a graph, break it down to smaller geometric shapes and calculate the areas accordingly. Then consider the depth and come up with the quantum of concrete needed. Don’t forget the 10% extra for potential wastage.

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