Residential Concrete Design & Installation Specialists
Proudly Serving Chicagoland's Western Suburbs
American Irish Construction Co.
What benefits can I get by opting to use a concrete driveway instead of an asphalt driveway?
Begin by considering the cost of the driveway over its lifetime. A good quality concrete driveway will last more than 30 years with little or no maintenance. Asphalt driveways need periodic sealing coats to retard-age related cracking. Even properly constructed residential asphalt driveways will deteriorate more quickly due to environmental influences than due to vehicle traffic. If you consider the cost of surface and crack sealers and the shorter life-span of the asphalt, concrete will cost much less.
How thick should a concrete driveway be?
A minimum of 4 inches is recommended. Keep in mind that the 2 x 4's often used to form driveways are only 3 ½ inches wide, so the ground inside the 2 x 4 forming needs to be removed at least ½ inch below the bottom of the form. Thickness is the major factor (even more than the strength of the concrete) in determining the driveway's structural capacity. Increasing your driveway's thickness from 4 inches to 5 inches will add 20% to your concrete cost, but the additional inch of concrete will add almost 50% to load-carrying capacity of your driveway.
What Type of finish Should I use?
The two main types used are hard-troweled and broom finish. Trowel finishes are usually used indoors where a smooth, hard and flat surface is required. Broom finishes are appropriate for exterior slabs such as sidewalks, offering durability and a slip resistant surface. Decorative finishes are also available, including: Patterned, Colored and Exposed Aggregate.
Is it necessary to seal a concrete driveway?
Periodically sealing a concrete driveway will protect it from water or chemical absorption. This will make it much easier to clean accidental spills and will also help prevent the occurrence of surface defects. Always follow manufacturers' recommendations for sealing concrete.
Does concrete crack?
Yes. But Control Joints are placed for anticipated cracking.
Control joints allow for movements caused by ambient and ground temperature changes and the expanding and contracting of the concrete in extreme climate changes. Since concrete will crack you want to mostly control where it does and how it will be seen (not seen) There are two types of control joints that everyone sees in all larger masses of concrete. A trowel joint (line) which is a tool of various width and design edge that is used while the concrete is wet The other is by saw cutting a joint (line) after the concrete is set, generally less than 24 hrs after new concrete placement. These joints are usually no more than 8-12 feet apart, relative to no more than 2-3 times the thickness of the concrete slab. The joint depth is generally 25% of concrete thickness. The joints in effect create a planned weaker spot in the overall mass of concrete. With any combination of movement, freezing, thawing, subgrade changes, the cracking is more controlled and unseen. Look in an expansion joint of older concrete and you will likely see a crack of some size in width and length. Check the same control joint from an extreme cold or hot time of the year and you will likely see a noticeable size change in the crack within the joint. Cracking from one joint across the slab to another joint does occur. This is not generally due to inferior concrete old or new. Many conditions play a part in random or excessive cracking.
Will the installation of reinforcement (wire mesh or rebars) within the concrete prevent cracking?
No. Reinforcement will not prevent or even minimize cracking, but it may help hold the cracks together if they do occur.
Wire Mesh or Rebar is used as a structural support where heavy loads or excessive traffic is expected. There are various types of Reinforcement such as prefabricated wire mesh (sheets or rolls) or ½-inch (#4) steel rebar, placed in a grid pattern. The use of rebar is applicable in a rehab project to hold 2 masses of concrete together. Rebar maybe used to attach a new patio to a house foundation. In this application the intent is not structural, but is intended to hold the patio to the house, where separation is not desired.
What is Fiber Mesh?
Fiber mesh is a custom engineered and manufactured 100% virgin polypropylene monofilament (single strand) fiber. It is designed specifically as a fibrous reinforcement for concrete. When added to a concrete mixture it reduces plastic shrinkage cracking without a hairy surface. These fibers are alkali-resistant and completely non-corrosive.
Why do people choose stamped concrete?
Decorative stamped concrete is appealing for many reasons. First, it’s an economical alternative to pavers and natural stone, especially for applications such as patios, driveways, walkways, and pool decks. It also requires less maintenance than those materials because it has no joints where weed growth can occur. Adding to the value of stamped concrete is the material’s longevity. When properly installed and maintained, stamped concrete will last for decades.
From an aesthetic standpoint, stamped concrete is hard to beat when it comes to pattern and color options, which are virtually unlimited.
Will the color fade?
Efflorescence, weathering, dirt and traffic can take their toll on the color of stamped concrete. You can minimize any color change by periodically cleaning and resealing the concrete. Even if the color has faded due to years of neglect or lack of maintenance, it can often be restored to its original state by cleaning and resealing.
Can I use salt on it in the winter?
You should avoid using deicing salts on stamped concrete, especially during the first winter after the pavement is installed. Using deicers can cause surface damage - primarily scaling and spalling by forcing the thawing and refreezing of moisture. Products containing ammonium nitrates and ammonium sulphates are especially harmful because they will actually attack the concrete chemically. Rock salt (sodium chloride) or calcium chloride will do less damage, but they can harm vegetation and corrode metal. As an alternative, we recommend using sand for traction.