In this article, we’ll explain the strengths of concrete, factors that affect the thickness of the slab, and how to determine what the depth of your driveway should be. We’ll also discuss the use of rebar, wire mesh, and expansion cracks, and how much weight a concrete drive can support. With the information provided, you’ll be able to determine the right concrete thickness for your project. 

Concrete is becoming a popular alternative to asphalt. However, many companies and homeowners still have questions regarding the proper concrete parking lot installation. But, Concrete Contractors of Macon is a trusted company that will help you with your construction project because they are already knowledgeable with the proper guidelines of how thick should a driveway can be.

Furthermore, you can find out the ideal thickness for your concrete parking lot, learn the benefits of choosing concrete and find a local concrete contractor who can provide you with a safe, reliable parking lot for years to come.

Why Choose Concrete For Driveways?

There are five common types of driveways to choose from. In order of expense, there’s grass (or dirt), gravel, asphalt, concrete, and pavers. Asphalt and pavers require a prepared base of compacted material which adds to their cost but improves their longevity. Concrete will also benefit from a prepared base, but in some situations, it isn’t necessary. All driveway choices have strengths and weaknesses.

The grass or dirt track is usually free but sinks and requires regular mowing, grading, and filling, especially in wet or freeze-thaw locations. Gravel is the next option, but it shifts and ruts, requiring raking, grading, and weeding. It also sinks, so expect to add new gravel every 2 to 5 years.

Asphalt is marginally cheaper than concrete. It off-gasses, cracks, sinks, and can even melt and disfigure. The pavement needs regular maintenance and commonly lasts 10 to 30 years if maintained. Asphalt is available in black which fades but can be tinted or sealed in a limited range of colors.

A concrete driveway poured on a proper base is the strongest, longest-lasting, and most durable driveway material available. It requires minimal maintenance, will easily last more than 50 years, and can be finished in different colors, patterns, and textures. Low maintenance, longevity, durability, and strength make concrete the most economical choice in the long run.

Necessary Thickness of Concrete Driveway

Concrete isn’t lightweight and often requires support to prevent it from cracking or breaking. Support for concrete comes in two main forms – steel reinforcing for internal support or ground preparation for external support. Undisturbed or compacted soil of an acceptable type works well, as does a compacted base and subbase of crushed stone material.

It is important to determine what the concrete driveway will be used for – cars and half-ton trucks, or RVs, dump trucks, and heavy equipment. The type of load and function help identify the thickness, as does the soil. Another consideration is the budget and what you’re willing to spend.

How Thick Should A Concrete Driveway Be?

The minimum thickness in most codes for a residential driveway is 4-inches of concrete on a prepared base. Using stronger concrete can decrease that to 3” in some areas, although it won’t decrease the cost much if any. A properly prepared base and subbase will increase the driveway thickness by 4” to 8” too.

Increasing the concrete thickness to 5” will add 20% to the cost but increases the strength by potentially 50%. The thicker slab will support more weight and last longer. Slabs 5” or thicker, however, must be reinforced with rebar. Driveways that may experience frequent use by commercial or construction vehicles are commonly 6” thick on a prepared base but may be thicker depending on load expectations.

What is the Average Thickness for Residential Driveway?

Many concrete contractors identify 4” concrete on a 6” to 8” prepared base as the minimum they will install and the average thickness between 5” and 5-1/2”. The average thickness of a residential driveway, including base, ranges from 10” to 12-1/2”. The thicker the concrete and base, the stronger and more durable the driveway.

Parking Heavy Industrial Vehicles

Heavy equipment often requires thicker concrete on a properly prepared base. RVs and busses commonly park on 6” thick pads, while loading docks and dumpster pick-up zones are 12” thick due to the condensed loads. Driveways for commercial or construction equipment commonly are 6” to 8” thick, with the road to drive aprons being 8” to 10”. Sidewalks and curbs across heavy equipment areas frequently are 8” or thicker too. Thicknesses may vary due to local codes, so always check during the planning stage.

The tensile strength of concrete is between 10% and 15% of its compressive strength. So, a 6” thick concrete slab with a compressive strength of 3000 to 4000 psi on a prepared base has a tensile strength between 300 and 600 psi. An 18-wheeler loaded to 75,000-pounds will exert between 30 and 50 psi on the ground, based on the area of tire on the ground. A truck with 10 wheels carrying 40,000-pounds, likewise, would exert approximately 30 psi.

What is the Maximum Thickness?

The isn’t a maximum thickness identified for concrete driveways. The thickness is determined by the use, space available, and budget. Most concrete residential driveways are between 4” and 6” of concrete and commercial drives between 6” and 8”. Concrete highways are currently between 11” and 12” of concrete on a prepared base, so anything thicker than that is overkill.

How Thin Can Concrete Driveway Be?

Most jurisdictions require a minimum of 4” thick concrete for a residential driveway. The thicker the concrete and prepared base, the greater the strength. Although a 3” thick drive is acceptable in some areas, it doesn’t offer the strength to support most passenger vehicles.