Concrete Paving Basics

When paving a relatively large area, using brick pavers or pre-fabricated concrete pavers can be costly and could require a long time frame before completion. You might have a private property that need private roads or walkways. If you want to pave a relatively large area, using pre-mixed concrete is a cost-effective option.

Concrete can be a tricky material do deal with if you don't have enough information or experience. There are many details to consider and this article will provide you with the basic information you need.

Aggregates comprise 60% to 70% of the concrete mix. It is important to use high quality aggregates as this affects the strength and durability of the concrete. The most commonly used aggregates are crushed stone, gravel and sand. It is recommended that you use a nice mix of all these materials for a high quality mix. Natural gravel and limestone are considered two of the best aggregates available so use them if possible.

Cement and aggregates

Cement holds the aggregates together and actually comprises only 9% to 15% of the concrete paving mixture. Portland cement is the preferred material for concrete paving. The rest of the mixture or 15% to 16% would be water. Water coming from non-potable sources must be tested first before being used in a batch of concrete mixture. Aside from the above mentioned materials, chemical additives are also used like air entrainers, water reducers and retarders. These chemicals help retain water and also delay the setting of the concrete. This is useful when transporting the mix to long distance construction sites.

The ratio of water to the cement used is very important. If there is too little water used in relation to the cement used, you will end up with a mix that is hard to place and finish. On the other hand, a mix with too much water in relation to the cement will result to a weak mixture with low durability.

Each batch of concrete mixture must be as uniform as possible to attain the desired results in concrete paving. A quick plant visit will tell you if a plant is operating efficiently and if the machines used in batching are well maintained. When visiting a mixing plant check if proper procedures are followed.

Concrete setting and temperatures

The weather could also have adverse effects on the quality of ready concrete mixtures. Extremely hot temperatures can make the concrete mix dry easily and cement will absorb water much faster during hot weather. Concrete mixed on cold weather, on the other hand, can cause shrinkage cracking. With these facts in mind, it would be wise to schedule a concrete paving project when the weather is just right.

More important than the quality of the concrete mixture is the preparation of the roadbed. A high-quality concrete mixture will perform well if the foundation is well-prepared. Preparation would include the sub-grade, or the earth, and the sub-base - a course material placed on top of the sub-grade for proper drainage and stability. Proper surveying will also contribute to the success of your concrete paving project. Make sure that the strings used are aligned correctly.

The next step would be the placement of concrete, spreading, striking off and consolidating. Concrete paving requires that the concrete be placed evenly. The concrete must also be spread evenly. Striking off is the removal of excess concrete and is also equally important. Consolidation is required to achieve maximum strength using vibrators. Finishing also contributes to the long term strength of the concrete paving. This must be done as minimal as possible and remember not to add more water while finishing.

Curing concrete

Finally, there's texturing and curing. Texturing is done to provide better traction for vehicle tires. Curing is done to protect the newly finished pavement. It helps prevent moisture loss from the surface of the concrete and also ensures that the concrete paving gains strength uniformly.

Also see: Paving Photos ( for paving inspiration: pool paving, driveway paving, slate and sandstone pavers and more.