November 3, 2014

How To: Pour a Concrete Driveway Ramp

Scenario: All of my internet friends and I are playing Never Have I Ever. Members of the blogparty start off.


Never have I ever messed up mashed potatoes. 
*CastleDIY takes a shot*


Never have I ever created a cat-free toilet paper cover. 
*CastleDIY takes a second shot*


Never have I ever poured a concrete driveway ramp. 
*CastleDIY is a light weight and is now the drunkest person at her blogparty*

Two weeks Matt and I finally mustered the courage to play with concrete and it wasn't as bad as we thought! I didn't ever actually think that a concrete ramp was something I could list as a DIY project, but it is and I couldn't be happier with the result. 

Since we first purchased the house, Matt's little baby-sized car has been scraping its bottom across the cement every time he enters or backs out of the driveway. This heinous sound and resulting damage can only be prevented if he turns at an insanely wide and difficult-to-accomplish angle. To remedy this, he started looking for solutions. What he found was one of these. It was everything he wanted with the price tag that he didn't (not to mention - what prevents it from being stolen? Won't you need concrete to secure it anyway?). So instead, we started casually researching how to make a permanent one. 

And it is terrifying! Mostly because it's just that: permanent. And we were slightly concerned about whether or not we get in trouble if we did it. Granted it's our driveway, but it isn't "our" street and technically that's town property. We sort of went into it with an "ask for forgiveness, not permission" mentality. And also used our neighbors as scapegoats because a whole lot of them did the same thing.

The hardest part of the whole project was figuring out how much concrete we would need. The distance across the driveway is about 20 feet. Initially we estimated we'd need about 10 bags of concrete, but compensating for the curve in the curb and the realization that we didn't really need the ramp to be the full length of the driveway, we decided on seven 60 lb bags of concrete. Concrete + water = driveway miracle and it's easier than you might think. Here's what you need:

What You Need

Concrete (only $3/bag!)
Hand Float
Measuring Bucket
Wheelbarrow or one of these tubs

What You Do

1. Optional - Set up a barrier. We placed a few scrap pieces of trim down to prevent the concrete from spilling into the street. We thought it would be easier to shape the ramp if we didn't have so much excess clean up around the edges. 

2. Mix your concrete according to the directions. We mixed one bag at a time since we weren't sure exactly how much we needed (and because we only have a small wheelbarrow). To determine the amount you need, you can guesstimate by finding the cubic volume of the space. We needed our ramp to be about 6 inches thick at it's thickest section, about a foot wide and about 20 feet long. Then we divided that by two (since it's a triangle). That still overestimated by about five bags. So we bought seven to be safe (and ended up with 2 left over due in part to the fact that the curb curves out a little and isn't a flat drop-off). In our case, not an exact science. For a more accurate estimate, you may want to seek the help of a professional.

3. After the concrete is thoroughly mixed, starting with the middle, pour (or shovel) the concrete onto the ramp area. Matt shoveled the concrete into the space and after he was done I leveled it out using the hand float. There are other tools that you can use: finishing floats and wood floats, foam floats and rubber floats; but we just used the metal one and I pounded and shaped the concrete accordingly. 

4. Continue pouring concrete from the middle outwards. This helps you to create uniformity and evaluate how much concrete you need (but didn't buy). But in our case, I figured it wouldn't be the end of the world if the ramp were not the full width of the driveway. 

5. At the ends, round out the sides and level it, creating a grade towards street level. This gives it a cleaner look.

Cute outfit, right? Leveling out the concrete.

6. If you set up the barrier from step one, remove it and smooth out the edges. This took a little finesse but overall seemed to appear "square-ish" when I was finished.

Matt has some concerns about the concrete being "crumbly" but I think it'll be fine - I think it's just how it looks. However, after it dries (about 7 days) we might put some "finishing" concrete on top to make it appear more smooth and like a seamless addition to the driveway. I will keep you posted on the status of its condition once we start driving on it.

The project took about an hour and cost less than $50. Much better than the $400 option! Another DIY success!


EDIT: We completed this project around lunch time on Saturday and less than 24 hours later, I came outside to find two members of the Biker Gang riding their bikes across my awesome ramp. I was slightly outraged, as the ramp was not quite body-weight friendly yet and we also put up something to block people FROM WALKING OR DRIVING ON IT. So I asked them to kindly get off our ramp. Except it was actually more like a whiny/angry "C'MON GUUYYYYZZZ. IT'S NOT EVEN DRY YET! *FOOT STOMP*" This was immediately followed by a "sorry ma'am" from the guilty parties. Ma'am. Ugh. I promised Matt that if I caught them on it again before the end of the week I would spray them with the hose and refuse them full size candy bars on Halloween. Yeah. I'm going to be THAT neighbor.  

EDIT 2: They did not come back. All kids that showed up at my door received a full size candy bar. They were elated and we were the epic house on the neighborhood. #winning. 


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