road construction techniques

An Architects Guide To Road Construction Techniques

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Road and driveway construction techniques are varied and will largely depend on the volume and weight of traffic that the road or driveway could reasonably be expected to carry. It will also likely be necessary to provide a base course/s or to construct them directly over compacted sub grade soil.

Sub course benefits

Provision of a sub course will improve performance, especially where volume or weight of vehicles is high. The base will give much needed rigidity to seat the concrete surface layer.  A concrete surface constructed from pavement quality concrete will enable airport runway ability to withstand heavy loads. This may be on the industrial side for a driveway or an approach road to a farm or home, or even for flooring around a waterfront property. Ordinary Portland cement is a common choice for domestic and smaller industrial applications and requires approximately one-week hardening time. However, a rapid hardening cement will leave you with a hardened usable surface in two to three days, so may be more suited to projects where access is limited, or time is tight.

Roads and large areas can be laid using a continuous method or alternate bay method, each has its advantages and disadvantages.  For smaller driveway areas, a continuous method will result in a lesser number of joints and chances for rainwater to pool. However, an alternate bay method may be necessary for larger base structures.

Using steel road forms for concrete roads and slabs

The most common form of road surface in urban areas is likely to be a concrete road. Constructed to handle heavy traffic flow required by residential areas they offer an all-weather road with low maintenance issues and a lifespan in the region of ten years. The roads are waterproof so there is no worry of potholes caused by swelling.   This road type can be suitable for access in semi-rural areas, where large expanses of quick lay road is required to cover some distances such as farm access and long driveways to many rural properties. 

In order to create a straight accurate edge for concrete pathways and driveways, steel road forms offer a steel square edged engineered formwork system, which fit easily together to create a framework to securely hold the freshly poured concrete.

The benefits of steel road forms

Such a system allows for quick and simple placing of the formwork and being modular in design creates temporary moulds enabling concrete laying for roads and large concrete areas, which are quick to lay and fill, and allow for ease and uniformity of shape.  Road form temporary moulds are reusable almost indefinitely and are therefore a highly cost effective way to provide removable formwork for creation of new roads, driveways and large concrete base areas.

Square edged road forms offer solutions for more than just road and driveway construction, providing a stable framework for concrete expanses to ensure that when concrete is poured a suitable frame is there to maintain the shape required and a neat edge to the poured concrete. In addition, they offer stability for the entire structure.

Cost considerations

Whilst the use of concrete to create road and driveways has a high initial cost, over its lifetime its minimal maintenance requirements means its actual cost is highly competitive when compared to other road construction materials due to the long life expectancy. Tarmacadam and gravel alternatives both require higher maintenance and care over their lifetime and are more likely to be subject to damage from water, sun and other elements.

It is also likely that there will be equipment costs and consideration should be given to the purchase of ready mixed concrete, which will ensure the entire area can be completed at once.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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