How to build a driveway
Building a driveway can be a great way to update your home with a low-maintenance and secure parking space at an affordable cost, providing you with your very own dedicated car park for your vehicles. Worried about how to make a driveway? Check out our step-by-step guide below from Speedy Services the UK's leading tool hire company.
What tools do I need to build a driveway?
- Excavator machine (optional)
- Compactor (wacker plate)
- Edging trowel
- Concrete mixer (optional)
- Spirit level
- Tape measure
- String line
- Wooden hand float / Darby
- Power drill (optional)
What materials do I need to build a new driveway?
- Wooden forms
- Wooden stakes
- Rebar or heavy-duty mesh
- Screws (optional)
What PPE safety equipment do I need for building a driveway?
- Safety goggles
- Ear defenders (required for compactor / wacker plate)
- Knee pads
- Steel toe-capped work boots
How to build a driveway
To ensure you get the best finish possible for your DIY project, please read our check list below including planning permission for driveway, preparation, and safety precautions to be carried out before starting to build a new driveway.
Planning permission for driveway
Check 1: Check with local planning authority to know if you need a permit
Before you start any work on your new driveway it is vital that you contact your Local Planning Authority (LPA) for planning permission and if a permit is required. Find out more at: Planning Portal.
Check 2: Check for underground utilities
Before your start any work on your new driveway it is critical that you contact PlanToDig to identify any underground utility lines that may prevent construction and excavation plans.
Check 3: Plan the size of your new driveway
Draw an outline plan of your new driveway considering the overall length and width. As a guide, it’s recommended to allow at least 18 feet (5.5m) to 20 feet (6.1m) for a car and 22 feet (6.7m) to 24 feet (7.3m) for trucks or vans. Allow a width of 10 feet (3.0 m) to 12 feet (3.7m) for a single vehicle.
Check 4: Determine material costs
Use your outline plan to calculate how much material you need to purchase, and equipment hire costs.
Check 5: Safety & PPE equipment
Keep materials and sharp tools out of children’s reach, wear correct safety PPE equipment as listed above.
How to build a new driveway
Step 1: Outline the plan of your new driveway area
- Outline the driveway area from your plan with string line and wooden stakes.
Step 2: Excavate topsoil and level out driveway area
- Excavate topsoil, using a shovel or hire an excavator machine, level out the construction area, as a guide excavate around 250mm down from ground level.
Step 3: Lay wooden forms around the driveway area
- Lay wooden forms - 1inch (2.5 cm) by 4 inches (10 cm) pieces of nominal lumber around the driveway area to prevent the concrete from spilling when being poured.
- Make sure your forms are straight and secure, use a sledgehammer to drive the wooden stakes into the soil to anchor the forms.
Speedy Tip! Using a power drill and screws will make it easy to assemble / disassemble your wooden forms.
Step 4: Add in sand to firm up soil
- Add in sand to firm up the base and add a thin layer of gravel to ensure base thickness, as a guide this needs to be 4 to 10 inches depending on soil conditions.
Step 5: Compact gravel and soil
- Hire a compactor (wacker plate) to flatten the driveway to do the job quickly, adding a little water as you compact the material can make the process more effective.
Step 6: Lay steel reinforcing mesh or bars
- It is critical to strengthen your driveway, to do this lay steel reinforcing mesh or bars (in a grid pattern) covering the surface to reinforce your foundation.
Step 7: Pour concrete over the driveway area
- Using a wheelbarrow pour the concrete against the forms spreading out evenly across the driveway area (for large areas consider hiring a concrete mixer).
Step 8: Smooth out and level concrete
- Use an edging trowel and wood float / darby to smooth and level out the concrete, to prevent cracks use a groover to create straight grooves throughout the driveway.
- Use a broom to add texture to the concrete when still damp in the direction you want your driveway to drain if there is a slope, provides a non-slip traction in wet conditions.
Step 9: Set and cure concrete
- Wait for the concrete to set (a few days) then cure (between 1 to 3.5 weeks) with either a dedicated sealant or by watering daily with a hose for a few days.
- Protect your concrete drive from extreme weather conditions for at least 3-7 days.
Step 10: Happy parking on your new driveway
- Do not park your vehicle on the driveway until it has cured completely to full strength.
- Congratulations! you have now built your own new driveway, happy parking!