You know those old couples who sit out on their front lawn side by side in folding chairs and watch the neighborhood goings-on?  Yeah, that was us.  Except we were watching other people work on our house.  Our driveway, to be precise.

Up till now we’ve had a pitted, disintegrating asphalt driveway that we’ve just lived with.  The Chief works on cars out there and it’s not pleasant to lie on your back for hours on a surface that looks like this:

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It finally made sense to replace the driveway, and I think it might be one of the most joy inducing house projects for the Chief.  Not only was Someone Else doing the work on his property, it was going to make his life a million times more comfortable.  It would let him work under cars comfortably as well as simply and easily roll out a tool cart, an engine lift, a jack, without the hassle and danger the old asphalt presented.  To keep costs down, he did all the prep work of removing the old paving and creating the foundation and forms for the concrete.  This included spraying the dirt down to make it easier for the mini-earthmover to remove it.

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You can see how far down he had to dig – about 6″.  We did not use rebar in this pour because metal is a lot more expensive than cement right now, and it is cheaper to do a 6″ slab of concrete (very thick and sturdy) than to do 3″ of concrete with rebar.

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With the driveway all dug out and prepared, it looked about like this.  The forms have not yet been installed here but it gives you the wide angle picture.

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About 6:30AM on Saturday, a half hour before they were scheduled, the crew and first concrete truck arrived.  The Chief sprang out of bed and went to go over the morning’s plan.  They taped up plastic on our house and the neighbor’s to ward off splatters, then backed the concrete truck to the far end of the driveway.  Here’s the very first cubic foot being poured!

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By 7:15 we were out back in our folding chairs, sipping tea and coffee respectively, and having a wonderful time watching the guys make our driveway look 1000 times better.

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After a while we relocated to the front yard to watch that part of the pour.  Here the crew is leveling out the driveway.

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After leveling, they float it with two different types of floats (flat paddles on long poles) that push the gravel down and make the surface of the concrete smooth.

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Once the concrete has been floated, expansion lines are marked to create some give in hot and cold conditions.

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The weather was blessedly perfect for pouring concrete – not too hot, not too cold, cloudy and damp but no rain fell.  This gave them plenty of time to work the concrete into a perfect finish before it started to harden.  From start to finish the whole job took about four hours.  It took EXACTLY two cement mixers’ worth of concrete.  We were nervous we’d be a measly couple of yard short and have to tap into the third truck we had on call, but with a little bit of smoothing the crew was able to fill the last spot and still have one or two shovelfuls of concrete to spare  Here is the final product.

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That’s a massively improved driveway, don’t you think?

I’m remembering how just over a year ago we replaced the warped wooden garage door and beam with a new steel I-beam and a beautiful automatic garage door.  With this new driveway poured, I think we’re about done with this part of of the house.  Our neighbors have been giving us thumbs up as they drive by, so everyone is a fan and we’re the rock stars of the week on our street.  That feels pretty good!  Next up: maybe we’ll finally take that 5 gallons of exterior paint and and repaint the house at last.  Till then, I never thought I’d be so pleased with a broad expanse of concrete paving.  How do you like our new surface?

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