Having a new concrete driveway installed is an investment that should last and look good for many years. The last thing you want is for something to cause permanent damage before it has a chance to fully cure. Unfortunately, curing can take several weeks, depending on the temperature and weather conditions. While the concrete may seem hardened, you will still need to practice some caution. The following tips can help.
Tip #1: Talk to your neighbors
The worst damage is likely to occur within the first 24 hours, which is when the concrete is likely to be softest. Most contractors will tell you to stay off the concrete completely for this period – and possibly longer depending on the weather. Talk to your neighbors before the concrete is poured and let them know what is going on. If they have pets or children, request that they keep them on-leash or supervised, as appropriate, so that accidents are avoided during this initial curing period.
Tip #2: Protect from dangers above
Another concern in the initial curing period is falling leaves, sticks, and sap. If you have a lot of trees above the the driveway, you have a couple of options. The simplest option is to wait until there are no leaves on the tree and the sap isn't flowing, perhaps in late fall. Otherwise, consider stretching a tarp over the driveway to catch any detritus that falls the first day. Just make sure the tarp is taut and strongly affixed so it doesn't fall into the wet concrete.
Tip #3: Practice patience
Although your contractor will likely give you permission to walk on the concrete after a day or two, avoid wearing heels, cleats, or shoes with heavy tread for about a week. Also, nothing with wheels, including bikes and roller skates, should be on the driveway.
Tip #4: Drive cautiously
After the week cure, or however long the contractor recommends, you will be able to drive on the driveway again. Keep in mind, though, that the drive still isn't fully cured. Avoid driving on the edges, since this is the area most likely to crumble. Don't pull onto the drive with studded snow tires, either, since the concrete can still suffer some damage. Things like chains, which can hang down from trailer hitches, should also be secured so they don't drag or bang against the almost-cured driveway.
Tip #5: Park carefully
It's also okay to park on the driveway after you have the all-clear for driving on the driveway. The only things to avoid are kickstands and jack stands., Park motorcycles and trailers elsewhere until the driveways is declared fully cured, which will likely be about a month. Talk to your ready mix concrete contractor or Van Doren Red-E-Mix to get exact guidance on how long you will need to wait.