There are a number of important steps which you should take if you want your new concrete driveway to stand the test of time. Read on to find out what these steps are.
Create a stable base
Few things affect the lifespan of concrete driveways more than the stability of the bases on which they are built.
If your driveway is built on expansive soil (that is, soil which tends to increase in size when it is exposed to moisture), the concrete will eventually begin to crack, buckle and sink.
Soils that are made entirely or partially of clay tend to be extremely expansive. As such, it is important to find out if there is clay soil in the area of your property on which you intend to have your driveway built. You may need to hire a soil engineer for this task.
If the soil does contain clay, you will need to ask your contractor to replace this soil with a non-expansive material (such as loam or sand) before they begin the construction work. Whilst this will, of course, increase the length and cost of the project, it will spare you the expense and stress of having your driveway replaced just a year or two from now.
Check for tree roots
Trees can significantly enhance the appearance of your property's exterior and provide much-needed shade during the warmer seasons. However, their root systems could end up wreaking havoc on your concrete driveway.
Tree roots can extend several feet beyond the trunk and will thrive in any areas where there is a good combination of loose soil, moisture and oxygen, all of which may be found in the base of your soon-to-be-built driveway. If these roots are not dealt with before your driveway is constructed, they could burrow underneath it and eventually cause the concrete to bulge and crack.
Given this, it's crucial to check for tree roots; this should be done during the excavation stage before your contractor has begun to lay the sub-grade. If roots are discovered in this area, there are several ways to deal with them.
One option is to cut down the entire tree and its root system. This is a lengthy and somewhat complex process and should only be performed by a qualified arborist.
If you would prefer to keep the tree, you could ask your contractor to cut back the tips of any roots which are encroaching on the designated driveway area and then have them install root barriers, which will prevent the roots from growing underneath the driveway in the future.