Park It Right Here

It’s more than just a place to park your work truck or
family mini van. It’s your kids’ arena for their budding NBA aspirations and the show floor for your entrepreneurial garage sales. Your driveway is the final road leading to your house or business and it’s a bedrock of utility and aesthetic quality for where you live andwhere you work.

A quality driveway (one that’s well constructed and well maintained) is like guaranteeing that ever-precious first good impression. Of course, a crumbling, cracked concrete or asphalt driveway does just the opposite. If the latter sounds familiar, your customer’s driveway calls for a much needed renovation. You might consider spearheading the re-construction with your versatile skid steer, armed to

the teeth with attachments.

Deciding on the material to use in the construction of the homeowner’s driveway will help you gather your
arsenal of skid steer attachments — dozer blade, heavy-duty bucket with a serrated edge, hydraulic breaker, box rake and brush sweeper. Driveways are usually constructed
from one of three different materials — asphalt, concrete
or pavers (generally made of brick, concrete or stone). Each material isunique in its construction and equipment demands.

Much of the construction material decision comes down to cost. Concrete and asphalt run a close race and if you are trying to save money, odds are your decision will be between these two materials. When choosing either
concrete or asphalt, it is extremely important to consider your location. If you are in an area that doesn’t see drastic temperature changes, a concrete driveway is usually more cost-effective than asphalt.

However, if you are in an area that sees hot summers and cold winters, asphalt would be the way to go as it doesn’t have the expansion properties of concrete.

More often than not, these two materials will cost less in their respective locations due to availability. (i.e. in Texas, concrete is widely used and is cheaper than asphalt, and
in Minnesota, asphalt is widely used and is generally cheaper than concrete).

Location aside, the homeowner will want to consider the maintenance and lifetime of the driveway, as this is where the cost differences come into play. Installing a concrete driveway has a lower upfront cost for labor and equipment than asphalt. A skid steer, using a sturdy bucket and dozer blade, coupled with a pickup, can dig out the driveway area and haul in the rebar forms. Then, the concrete is poured and smoothed. Once construction is complete, there is
virtually no maintenance for 10 to 15 years. When it comes time to repair or replace the concrete, however, the overall cost is much more expensive than the maintenance
associated with asphalt.

Asphalt’s upfront labor and equipment cost is considerably more than concrete. In fact, in some parts of the country, asphalt prices have doubled in the past six months due to
the cost of crude oil, according to Don Turner, a director of the National Pavement Contractors Association (NPCA).

Its construction is also more complicated, as it involves a compact asphalt roller or asphalt roller skid steer attachment. Down the line, asphalt requires more routine maintenance than concrete. However, the maintenance cost is considerably lower than concrete, as cracks can be filled and the asphalt can be sealed for added protection.

“Within the lifetime of the driveway, the cost evens out. But, it is mitigated by how long a person plans to live at a house,” says Turner. “Generally, people don’t live 30 years in one house, so they’ll put in something that will last 10 to 15 years and then it’s someone else’s problem”

If there is leeway in your customer’s budget for aesthetics, pavers are a decorative material tailor-made to give your home a classic, old-world look. Pavers are the least equipment-intensive driveway installation. A skid steer should cover all the chores, including digging, handling and spreading material. Once the area is excavated and the base material is laid and compacted, the pavers are laid individually by hand to create extravagant patterns. Yet, the base material cost is considerably more than concrete or asphalt. Pavers are also commonly used in conjunction with walkways, patios and landscaping. An added benefit of pavers is that if you need to run a utility line, you don’t have to rip up the entire driveway, as is the case with concrete or asphalt.

“You can unzip the pavers by removing a line of single pavers and then re-laying them,” says Rex Mann, owner
of RM Stonescaping in Phoenix. “With concrete, you would have to cut a chunk out and then replace it, and it wouldn’t match.

Out With the Old, In With the New

Driveway construction is nearly all about the material — as it will dictate the different aspects of construction. First you need to calculate how much material you will need. I’m sure we can all remember from high school math class, the

calculation to find area — width (ft) x length (ft) = area (sq ft). Using the area, you can calculate how much concrete, asphalt or pavers you will need to cover your driveway.

Say, for example, that your driveway is 15 ft wide and 50 ft long. With those dimensions you would multiply 15 times 50 and you’ll find that your project covers 750 sq ft.

This handy formula will help the homeowner estimate the overall cost of the material and labor and you determine the amount of material you’ll need. In the case of pavers, add 5 percent to the area to
compensate for the pavers that will be cut to fit curves.

If your driveway demands the pavers to curve a great deal, add 10 percent, according to

If you have to replace an old driveway, you’ll have to remove it regardless of the new material. And for that, a hydraulic breaker attachment will chop up the old material and a heavy-duty bucket will load it into the dumpster or dump truck. If you head out to the rental yard to pick out a few attachments, keep your job in mind as you select your tools.

“With hydraulic breakers, frequency is more important than how hard it hits,” says Tom Banner, manager of
product sales training for Case Construction Equipment.

“In fact, with some breakers, if it is hitting too hard, it can put a hole right through the concrete instead of breaking it up.”

As you go about breaking up that old concrete or asphalt driveway, be sure to down-pressure the hydraulic breaker at a 90-degree angle into the material, don’t keep it in one spot longer than 50 seconds and do not blank fire (operate the attachment when it isn’t against the material), as it can lead to premature wear of the attachment, recommends Gustavo A. Valecillos, Caterpillar Building Construction Product work tool consultant. It also is recommended that you grease the breaker’s bushings every two hours in the vertical position.

Once the old driveway is in ruins, swap the breaker for a heavy-duty bucket to remove the debris. Be careful when you are carting the rubble away, as the concrete or asphalt maybe in large, awkward pieces, and you wouldn’t want any large chunks of concrete or asphalt falling out of the bucket and damaging the equipment or property, or worse, injuring a person. A grapple bucket can reduce the chance of
dropping debris. Once the area is clear, hold onto that
bucket, it can also dig the trench for your new driveway.

Digging the Job

While the depth can vary depending on the material being used, odds are that you won’t be excavating more than a couple feet for a driveway. A bucket with a serrated edge or cutting teeth will make the excavation process a bit smoother. You could also substitute the bucket for a dozer blade, but then you would have to put a bucket on to move the material after you doze. It is recommended that you slope the driveway toward the street, so that rain water doesn’t flow into your garage. A good rule of thumb is to dig 1 in. deeper for every 4 ft in length toward the road.

Now it’s time to lay your base material. The most common base material is crushed stone or gravel, which promotes drainage and prevents cracking. Here, the skid steer takes on its more traditional role of a loader as you scoop up the base material and dump it into the excavated driveway. The thickness of the base material should be laid in relation to the soil type. If you run into expansive clay, then you’ll want a thicker base and vice versa if you were cutting into rock while excavating.

As you spread the base material, it is best to break it down into layers — compacting it with a vibratory roller attachment between each layer to ensure a tightly compacted base. At this point, the differences in construction between the materials begin to emerge. If you are working with concrete you would lay your cushion sand and rebar forms and pour away. If you are working with asphalt, it isn’tas simple. Once the asphalt is poured and spread, a compact asphalt roller would be the best way to ensure that your asphalt driveway is as smooth and well compacted as possible. Proper compaction and density is all-important in asphalt construction.

If the job calls for pavers, your skid steer will help you spread sand over your base material to ensure a level surface for your pavers. However, the sand should only be 1 to 1 ½ in. thick, so you might not want to dump the sand directly from the skid steer bucket.

You also should use a type of sand that is the same consistency as your base material — sharp edged sand varied in size will lead to the best compaction, says After the sand has been spread and compacted, you lay your pavers in the desired fashion. Once your pavers are laid, sweep
sand over the entire surface using
a hand broom to fill in the joints. Finally, your skid steer can take a breather as you seal your concrete, asphalt or paver driveway.

Signing the Contract

Although a skid steer and a couple attachments can make the work
easier, that doesn’t mean that any
do-it-yourselfer can get the task
done in a weekend. Constructing a
driveway is a major project that is best left to contractors. Like any other construction project, homeowners will want to check out the contractor’s work when shopping around. Ask for references —
customers you can actually call and discuss what they liked or disliked about a contractor. Many contractors also belong to groups such as the NPCA or, in a paver’s case, the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, which adds to their reputability.

For contractors who are trying to make a name for themselves, the equipment plays a large role — it makes the work easier and increases productivity. Despite the fact that several different attachments are used within driveway construction, the skid steer is the important piece of the puzzle.

“The key is getting a good loader and then the right attachments. The machine is your primary investment — don’t skimp,” says J.J. Shields, brand marketing manager for Case Construction Equipment. “After you buy your machine, the best thing to do is rent attachments while you are finding your niche. Once you learn how to use the attachment you can purchase it later down the line.”

When shopping around for a skid steer, keep your job and the prospective attachments in mind. In the case of driveway construction, you’ll need a skid steer that can handle the operation of a hydraulic breaker and, possibly, a vibratory roller attachment.

“Choose a machine that has the capability to run your work tool in terms of hydraulic flow and pressure,” adds Valecillos. “Also, select a machine manufacturer that offers enough work tools for your machine.”

If the driveway is engineered and constructed correctly, you should enjoy many years without maintenance.

Keep in mind that the driveway may need to be sealed every three to five years. If you had a paver driveway installed, you might need to brush sand into the joints twice a year, especially within the first year of it being installed. Even after the driveway is installed, the skid steer’s work is not done — a sweeper attachment can ensure that your drive is clean and clear for years to come.


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