In 1604 Sir Edward Coke, an English judge, declared that your house is your “Castle and Fortress,” the maxim still holds that a home is a place of safety, insulated from the world’s problems, where a family can regroup, heal, and be restored. The driveway often dominates the entrance to the home, and if it is well designed, it provides a sense of welcome. Let’s take a look at how we can build one.
The best way to build a driveway is to plan, prepare, lay, and clean up.
- Plan the layout of the driveway.
- Choosing the material which matches the aesthetics you want to achieve against your budget.
- Prepare the site.
- Prepare sound foundations.
- Remove the rubble.
Building a driveway that can handle heavy vehicles and remain durable without requiring much maintenance takes planning, preparation, and back-breaking manual labor. Appropriately done, the result will be self-evident and will add immediate value to your home.
How Do You Build A Driveway?
If you are going to build a driveway, you need to understand that it is not for the faint-hearted.
If you are comfortable with this commitment, now is the time to start.
Plan The Build
You need to ascertain if planning permission is required to build a driveway with the local authorities.
Even if not required, it is good practice to draw a plan, as this helps you.
- See how the proposed driveway fits into the overall property.
- With brick driveways, it allows you to assess different artistic designs.
- Enable you to measure the area and source adequate quantities of material accurately.
Choosing The Best Material?
Choosing the type of driveway is just as important as learning how to build it.
Driveways become a central feature of your property and, if correctly incorporated into the garden design, add to the overall atmosphere.
A long curving tree-lined driveway on a big property creates a sense of anticipation about the home positioned at the end. An immaculately built driveway on a smaller property imbues a sense of order and definition to frame the entrance to a home.
The available materials include
- Gravel chips
Brick Driveways Is A Durable And Stylish Material
Bricks provide a hardwearing, durable surface suited for short and medium-length driveways.
A skilled worker can create a visual masterpiece that includes stylish patterns and well-laid borders to frame the area.
Before choosing this option, consider the following.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Which Bricks To Install
Review the product’s reputation and try to find previous customers who can advise you on the following characteristics of the product.
- How prone is the brick to staining?
- How resistant is the brick to cracking or disintegrating, particularly at the edges?
- Are broken bricks able to be removed, and how available are replacement supplies?
Gravel Chips (Aggregate) Are A Low-Cost Alternative
Gravel chips are the lowest cost, easiest to lay material in most areas.
Some companies offer decorative gravel consisting of multicolored chips that provide a visual break from the normal pure grey appearance. We have discussed this option in more detail here.
Factors To Consider When Installing Gravel Chips
Even though gravel chips are a low-cost, easily laid driveway material, you still need to get the basics right.
- If you can combine different colors, the result is more visually appealing.
- Usually, coping stones, edging, or bricks stop gravel chips from spilling over the edge.
- Ensure that edging stones are installed on secure foundations.
- Use a sand-based foundation to ensure as minimal lateral movement as possible.
Rock Driveways Are Aesthetically Pleasing
Rock driveways are appealing and very durable.
- In most cases, driveways made from rock are the most expensive and difficult to lay.
- They are difficult to lay unless the rock has been pre-cut into similar depth slabs.
- Obtaining suitable quantities of material may be expensive.
Concrete Driveways Are Hardwearing
Built correctly, they provide a stable and durable surface.
They also provide a smooth surface for children with their skateboards and rollerblades.
If you install it yourself, it is a very labor-intensive process.
Concrete is one of the most expensive materials.
Asphalt (tar) Driveways
Asphalt (tarmacadam) is a petroleum-based product providing exciting textures and colors.
- It is more expensive than gravel but costs less than brick, rock, or concrete.
- It will last up to 40 years.
- Extreme heat will crack the asphalt in hot climates and melt it into a gummy pliable consistency.
- Once melted, the structure is permanently compromised.
- Asphalt should be professionally seal coated at least every 5 years to ensure a long life.
Intensive Site Preparation
Despite what some companies tell you, many materials are neither quick nor easy to install
- for the following reasons.
- You cannot lay most materials over an existing driveway surface, which means the current driveway material must be removed.
- Installing a well-thought-out driveway requires significant preparation, and you should expect to be inconvenienced.
Preparing Sound Foundations
It is a misconception that foundations are not crucial because a driveway is often laid out as a solid structure.
As most materials are the sum of all parts (e.g., many bricks make a whole driveway), it is not a single structure, and therefore a solid foundation is essential.
A well-constructed foundation provides the necessary vertical support, while the edging becomes the frame that resists lateral movement.
In addition, it is essential to ensure that adequate draining is built into the design, as standing puddles will ultimately compromise the long-term durability of the structure.
Laying The Material
You have completed the foundational work, which included
- Planned for the driveway.
- Choosing the material for your driveway.
- Removed any previous paving materials.
- Leveled the area to be covered.
Now it is time to start the build.
- Begin by first starting with the outside edging.
- Excavate the driveway area to a depth of ±250mm
- Use a compactor weighing at least 75Kg’s to compact the excavated area.
- Dig the foundations for the edging material.
- Pour concrete into the edging foundations and level this to the gradient.
- Build the edging onto the foundations using ordinary bricklayer skills.
- Once the edging is in place and the concrete is dry enough, you can start with the main build.
- Add a subbase of sand, gravel, crushed stone (50%), and broken rock.
- Compact the sub base.
- Over the subbase lay a foundation. For Rock, Brick, Asphalt, or gravel, this will be a layer of soft sand.
- Compact the foundation.
- Lay the surface. Most driveway builders recommend working from the inside out.
Different Considerations Depend On The Material Used
Each material has its unique characteristics and needs.
Gravel Is Easy To Lay
If the foundation and edging are in place, gravel is the most straightforward material to lay, as it is simple to spread the material out into a level surface.
Bricks Need To Be Laid In Exact Patterns
When laying bricks, it is essential that you keep the gaps even and the surface level.
Although experienced bricklayers tend to be able to achieve this by sight, if the process is new to you, it is recommended that you use a tool to measure the gaps constantly.
In addition, use a straight edge to ensure that all the bricks remain level.
If you choose to use rocks as the driveway surface, we recommend that you use the services of a professional artisan experienced in building with rocks.
If you are laying concrete down, it is recommended that you first lay a mat of steel reinforcing bars tied in place. The steel used for reinforcement is typically number 4 rebar on 12-inch (30.5 cm) centers or 6X6 welded wire reinforcing wire fabric.
If the driveway is not too long, you can use a wheelbarrow to pour the concrete, while longer distances will need more significant equipment.
Remove The Rubble
The build produces a lot of rubble which you must remove.
Building a driveway is more complicated than it looks; however, if you design an aesthetically appealing surface, it will add value to your home. The process is costly, labor and time-intensive; however, it is worth doing correctly.
As the gateway to your house, the driveway is one of the visitors’ first impressions of your property. A well-thought-out and adequately constructed driveway add to the property’s appearance.