How To Ensure Your Concrete Driveway Outlives You

What does the Pantheon, the Coliseum, Pompeii, the megastructures of the Roman era, all have in common? One word. Concrete.

Drives don’t have to be concrete

But concrete is a star when it comes to performance in compression. Compression is when you press something.

Say when you sit on a sofa, its going to compress.

Um, depending on your weight, the sofa will decide if it can support you or be flattened like a pancake. And likewise for the failure of concrete.

Concrete failure is hugely dependant on two things

The recipe. And the bedding.

The recipe. Get the mix wrong and your cake becomes a brittle windowless building. These days concrete comes pre-mixed in a truck with all the correct ingredients. A small delivery fee and you will have your Black Forest gateau at your drive.

The bedding
. This is the base on which the concrete sits on. The wise man builds his house upon the rocks….yep, a well compacted, strong base will ensure a longer life.

One of the few materials which actually increases in strength over time

Unlike like your sofa, that will eventually lose its bounce, concrete will stand the testament of time. But only if it’s looked after properly.

Remember your high school physics?

Heating expands, cooling contracts. Concrete looves heat. But alas sometimes it becomes too hot to handle. And it wants to expand.

But if there’s no room to expand. It stretches. And it pulls. Anywhere it can. And then it cracks to create it’s own room.

The solution is expansion cuts(sometimes called expansion joints)

Expansion cuts for concrete expansion. Get it? These are the straight cut lines that need to be cut partway through your smooth drive. Shallow cuts, say 25mm or so through the concrete, usually in a grid fashion, 2-3metre squares.

These ‘cuts’ create a void to allow the concrete to expand into, when it wants to.

Stop cracking up

Expansion joints reduce cracks. Minor cracks will inevitably still happen. But expansion joints direct the cracks to follow a neat grid.

And the cracks get cunningly ‘hidden’. And your smooth drive doesn’t end up looking like spider veins on an otherwise gorgeous leg.

The Romans used concrete as early as 509 B.C.

They built extensively and impressively during the Roman Republic era. The ruins that people now flock to see the Pantheon, the Coliseum, Pompeii were built of, and stand in testament to the durability of, concrete.

But here we are merely talking about a humble drive. One that allows easy access to your house. And without getting your tyres dirty.

Ok, Now To Concrete The Main Points

  1. Concrete is a great performer under compression
  2. It can easily last many decades
  3. Bedding and correct recipe determines its life
  4. Maintenance is simple

One of the simplest maintenance tricks is to keep the expansion joints clean. If they get stuffed up with grime, expansion can’t happen. And yep, you guessed it. The unsightly spider veins will start to appear. And pretty soon become big varicose veins.



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