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Thread: Building a driveway

  1. #1
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Question Building a driveway

    I'm planning on fixing my driveway and am wondering if there are any "road builder" types around here that might provide some advice. I'm on flat, dry, peninsula woodland. When my house was built, it appears they simply took the very sandy subsurface "fill" from where they dug out the foundation/crawlspace and laid it down for a driveway. The current condition is severely heaved (not frost heave, just some large areas have settled into depressions) and the surface is mostly sand as any rocks have migrated down below the surface. Needless to say, it makes for a mess with ours and the dog's feet constantly tracking sand into the house. I also need to widen the driveway up to a double lane to accommodate parking all the toys. The side where I'm expanding is moss covered soil. Finished driveway is to be probably around 100' length and somewhere around 25' wide.

    So, what I was thinking, was to rent a small piece of equipment and scrape down several inches to get rid of the sand and level it all off. Then lay down Typar, and order some "gravel" to lay over the top and bring it back up to just over, grade.

    Obviously, I've never worked in the road construction field, so I'm not exactly sure what kind of "gravel" I should order or how thick of a layer I should plan for. I'm thinking a layer of Typar would be a good thing, but again it's not my field of expertise. I'm not keen on hiring someone to do it as I'm pretty much a do-it-yourselfer. So, any tips or suggestions on building a good driveway?
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  2. #2
    Mark
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    If you've been driving on it for a while and don't have any "soggy" spots where you sink in, you may have a decent enough subgrade that drains.

    The new area you're expanding into may or may not.

    Professional practice is to excavate to a gravel base, then build back up with a gravel fill which will drain, then cap it off (3" to 5" thick) with "D-1".

    Perfect D-1 isn't necessary. Many pits have what they call "driveway gravel" which is like d-1, but not to state or municpal specs. You can get it much cheaper than state spec d-1.

    The most important things to remember are:

    1) If there is any muck, clay, or other goo in the base, dig it out and replace it with gravel. The base for an average driveway should be graveled at least 2 feet deep, three feet being better

    2) Don't use round rock in your cap; chipped rock "locks together" like a jigsaw puzzle. Round rock is like driving/walking on marbles

  3. #3
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post

    2) Don't use round rock in your cap; chipped rock "locks together" like a jigsaw puzzle. Round rock is like driving/walking on marbles
    I havn't priced crushed rock up here but Mark is giving god advise I think! If you use pea gravel it will migrate of the drive surface on you in a hurry.

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    Default Do it!

    Mark sounds like he's on the right track. It might be a good idea to hire the job out unless you happen to know how to operate equipment and keep a good level grade. Better to spend the money having it done right, than having to pay for it twice!

  5. #5
    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    Default If you can operate equipment

    If you have access to a hoe, dig down and see how deep gravel is, if there is any.
    If it is more than 3 feet, see the suggestions above. I would add a layer of Typar fabric, it'll hold your good material in place. If you have rocks going down, it might not be gravel underneath, just more fluff. Rocks usually work to the surface.
    If you have gravel a foot or 2 down, dig the fluff out and stock on one side of entire driveway. Pull a couple of feet of gravel out and stockpile on the other side. Then put the fluff back in the bottom, compact. Run Typar down the remaining 2' deep excavation. Now put the gravel that you pulled out back on top of the Typar and compact.
    It is called "turning it over". It gets rid of your unusable material and used to be cheaper than buying gravel. Price of fuel now might negate that a bit.
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  6. #6
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by alaskaman444 View Post
    .....It might be a good idea to hire the job out unless you happen to know how to operate equipment and keep a good level grade......
    I operated a grader for years, and last year I knew of a Cat 14 available to rent from Mid Valley Rentals. That's a bit big for my driveway, but it was the only grader available for rent in the Mat-Su for non-bonded contractors.

    I ran out of time to do the grading I wanted to do here at the house last fall, and sure enough, Mid Valley sold off it's equipment and only rents party stuff now!

    I have to hire somebody to do it now.

    That's okay. It probably won't cost me much more than renting.........

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Joat, if you havent disturbed the vegetation mat, one option is to just cut all the trees off right to ground level, roll out typar over it and then a foot or so of gravel. I dont know if you noticed our driveway when you were there, but it is really flat and has stayed level even with full cement trucks and all kinds of heavy traffic. Alot of folks will scarf off the moss mat and then lay down gravel and that is about the worse result I've seen. IMO, you have to either go down to gravel or maintain a mat of seperation between the gravel and soft soils to keep from having sink spots.

  8. #8
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Default Thanks...

    Been away from the confuser for a bit so I'm catching up on threads. I snapped this pic of the road end of my drive and have been meaning to post for a bit. Another point is that there is a telephone utility easement on this side of the property and the phone junction box is off to the left of the picture with the line from it to my house running under the driveway somewhere. I haven't called for a locate yet. I believe the natural gas line comes in to the property off camera a ways to the right, but that will have to be located too. In either case, going down 3' is probably not practical due to buried utilities.

    The area to the left of the existing drive has been mostly cleared of brush and trees, but I haven't pulled all the stumps yet. There's a strip between existing drive and the woodland moss that is pretty much mud since it's been driven on too many times during breakup. I threw grass seed over that area 2 years ago, so there's a little grass helping to hold it together.

    Thanks for all the good suggestions so far and I'm considering all my options here.
    Last edited by JOAT; 08-27-2009 at 10:24.
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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    From that pic the driveway looks good and solid. I wouldn't do any more than lay a layer of crushed gravel on top. Crushed gravel goes a long way at stopping the tracking of sand into the house. Worst case scenario is that you could go down a foot, lay down road typar, fill with 9" of D1 and compact it, than top with crushed gravel.

    If you have a local tool rental that rents a tracked skid steer loader I would go that route. Have them rent you the dozer blade and the loader bucket and you can do all the job with one machine.

  10. #10

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    I wish my driveway looked that good!!!

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    Be sure to crown the roadway for drainage.

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    Default driveway

    I'm putting in a driveway too. I have an existing driveway and want to make it a "horse shoe" drive. I have several different people telling me what I can do. I would like to do the cheaper way, but I would also like to do it the best way so that I don't have to RE-DO it. I was told that I can just knock the trees down put TYPAR down and gravel over it. Then I was told that I should dig up the stumps and level it out really good. I would like to just lay the TYPR over it and gravel it and call it good because it looks like it's getting to be a pretty expensive little project. Also, I am putting it over the well line. I was told that this shouldn't be a problem for the well and that driving over it wouldn't mess it up. If anyone has any frosty words of wisdom for me I would greatly appreciate it.

    thanks

  13. #13
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    Interesting you would use the word "frosty."

    Based on the travails a friend of mine went through, putting your driveway over the line from your well to your house will lead to a frozen water pipe. Driving across the water line will force the frost deeper and deeper. Eventually, you'll freeze the line. It will take a portable welder to come out to thaw out the line and then you will have to run water down a drain for 24/7 until break-up has eliminated the frost line. All that water caused my friend to pump out his septic every two weeks. At today's price, that's about $750.00 a month.

    What my friend learned the hard way was if he had buried his line deeper and put a layer, 6 - 8" inches, of styrofoam between water line and the surface of his driveway, he would have avoided the annual water line freeze up. In the time he lived at that house, he must have spent $4-5,000 dealing with this problem.

    Hope this helps and saves you the grief he went through.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by akcow_girl View Post
    I was told that I can just knock the trees down put TYPAR down and gravel over it. Then I was told that I should dig up the stumps and level it out really good.
    General construction techniques vary wildly by location. I live on silty permafrost and would never dream of even touching the soil surface. Any disturbance would eliminate whatever soil structure existed. Up here, I'd just clear the trees, cut the stumps flush with the surface, lay TYPAR on top of the moss, and throw gravel down. Might need to give folks a better idea where you are and what the site conditions are.

    Also, I'd never put a driveway atop a waterline. Snow removal/compaction allows the frost line to penetrate much deeper than it normally would. If your pipes are 7-10 ft deep, you're likely ok, but personally, I still wouldn't risk it.

  15. #15
    Member Michael's Avatar
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    Smile

    Our cabin is just outside Glennallen. The first portion of our D/W we popped the trees out with a skid loader when they were mostly frozen. Laid typar down in the spring and covered it with a few inches of crush. The rest of the driveway we cut the trees off close to the ground, limbed them up, layed them up transversely like cuorderoy, covered them with typar and gravel. No problems at all. Going across the swamp coming into our property we layed down fletches from our sawmill and coverd them with gravel. We've continued to add gravel over the years, but no failure yet.

    My thought.....Don't disturb the vegetation. cover it with typar and gravel.

  16. #16

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    I just got done doing a driveway extention in. My next door nieghbor is and asphalt guy and talked me into using recycled asphalt. I'm very glad he did. It is only 2 or 3 more dollars a ton and it packed down with a wacker just as hard as my asphalt did. I will come loose with time but it will hold up alot better than any gravel. Just my 2 pennys on this.

  17. #17

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    I'm going to be "that guy that revives old threads"..lol.. Can anyone recommend someone in Wasilla to come out and look and give me an estimate on driveway work? I want to put down some D1 and expand my driveway and I have some muddy/soft spots I need to deal with. Reading all of this stuff about laying down fabric, digging down to gravel, maintaining positive grade, etc..I'd like someone to at least come out and tell me what I need to do and then I can weigh the costs of doing it myself or contracting it out. Thanks!

  18. #18
    Member greythorn3's Avatar
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    any idea what kinda gravel would be good for a somewhat firm surface in a polebarn?
    Semper Fi!

  19. #19

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    We did a driveway improvement project last year and so far, it looks good after the thaw. We are at Point Mackenzie so we had a good gravel base on our existing driveway but we hadn't done anything to it in 10 years or so. I wanted to even it out and put gravel down in front of the garage to eliminate the sand tracking issue. We had a number of loads of pit run brought out and the drive chained his gate so it would only open 4 - 5 inches. He backed up to the far edge of the pad, raised his bed and popped the gate open and started forward at a steady speed. The result was a perfectly even layer of pit run over the driveway - no bucket work at all to spread it or to even it out.

    For the pad in front of the garage, he brought out some D1 and did the same thing over the smaller area on top of the pit run. Again, a nice even spread. The pit run has packed down nicely although I am going to have to smooth the D1 to even it out after plowing on top of it over the winter.

    The trick with chaining the gate saved me a bunch of work with the tractor and ended up looking a lot better than I would have done it!

  20. #20

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    Try Paul at Big Dipper in Wasilla.

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