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Driveways - Wood Expansion Boards

11 replies [Last post]
Joined: May 15 2003

Has anyone had to replace the expansion boards in their driveway and patio?

Would love to hear from anyone who has had to face this improvement project. Thanks!

Joined: Feb 8 2005

I did. I replaced the screeds in side the house, and ripped out all of the ones outside. The screed boards are a direct highway for termites into your framing.
I temporarilly filled the exterior spaces with rocks, later I'll use compressed granit powder. Inside I used redwood.

Joined: Aug 12 2004

Ripped out the rotted wood and poured concrete into the voids.

Before pouring in concrete, laid water and electrical piping/conduit/etc.
Over did this and didn't use them all, but since it's not expensive,
cheap insurance that there will be something useful later on.

High pressure hosed it off and cleaned up the rotted wood, roots,
rusty nails, etc.

Standard concrete working tools and methods.

One atrium used colored concrete (just sand and cement). Used
a very dark grey, think "slate grey". Contrasted against the old
concrete and looked GREAT!

Key to it looking "right" is the edging. Decide which is going to
be which at the intersections. Meaning which one will look like
a contineous board and which will look like a cut board.

Where there were stakes holding the boards down, they were
also rotted, but would have left voids. Hammered them out with
a large chisle and just poured more concrete into that area.

Joined: Apr 2 2003

Restoring the atrium, carport, and driveway is something I've been thinking about. Some previous owners painted the atrium floor (pink then dark green) and we lost the top layer (float) when it was sandblasted.

3 things I've been sorting out and could use some advice on:

1) Removing the redwood boarding.

It sounds like I can just tear it out and cut out the rusted nails. How hard is it to then put in new redwood? Just hammer it in? Any tricks on sizing? What did the person who said they did this on the interior of the house use as fasteners?

2) Cleaning the old concrete.

I've already bought and used a 1700-2100 psi pressure washer. It made a huge improvement but none of the protects I tried would remove discolorations/oil stains. Anyone got a dynamite cleaner, method, or company they can recommend?

3) Resurfacing the concrete.

I have seen concrete topcoats advertised through Home Depot--can't remember the brand. I'm wondering if anyone has tried these. Depending on the prep and bonding agent, I would think it might be possible. With or without the addition of a new concrete layer, I'd like to seal the concrete with a Thompson's-like water seal. Any down side to this that people can think of? I thought it would help prevent future stain situations.

Thanks in advance.


eichfan at rawbw dot com

Joined: Mar 22 2004

i replaced some in my driveway with redwood 2x4. there were two "gotchas". first, the replacement 2x4 was too large for the gap. so, i had the lumberyard rip it in half (warning, this greatly increased the cost), giving me 2x2's (or was it 1x4's? i can't remember and your measurements will vary anyway). second issue was the gap had protruding nails and gobs/slivers of concrete so the 2x2 didn't sit flush. so, i had to chisel out some gunk which was fairly easy with the right tools (hammer/chisel).

Joined: Feb 8 2005

I went to a lumber yard and bought redwood 2x2's... which are about an 1/4 of an inch too small, but a lot cheaper than 2x4's... what I decided to do is shim the boards so that they would be centered, now there was a gap of about an 1/8 on each side... Solution? I used clear caulk. This worked great for two reasons, one it sealed that gap so that any critters, would not pop up, and two, easy removal. Again I used no fasteners, just shims and caulk.
p.s. total cost was approx $36

Joined: May 15 2003

An update to my post on May 27, replacing redwood 2x2's in driveway, I had someone come out to rip out the rotted boards and found that there was really no way to "anchor" the boards down. We decided to filll the gaps with aggregate. I have a curved walkway in a grey aggregate and am having the gaps filled with a multi-colored darkish sand tone. Color combination sounds weird but it looks nice so far.

Joined: Aug 12 2004

Did you use anything to bind the aggregate and keep it from coming out?

I considered embedding colorful aggregate on top of the concrete, but
the gap was too narrow for the look my buddy wanted. The building
supply place just didn't have a very good selection of aggregate.

My Eichlers are rentals, so plain aggregate is not a choice for me. Looks
nice, but maintenance and issue with potential tripping/slipping/etc. "They"
won't sweep it back into the gap as often as it should.

Joined: Apr 20 2006

For me, it wasn't hard to change the boards, but the concrete squares were all askew, and the concrete had to be replaced. Needless to say, there were no similar boards separating the new concrete. (Insert Eichler Purist gasping here). New boards don't need to fit tightly. One essential might be to treat the wood to keep water out. The damp side is on the bottom and would make the ends try to lift. Caulking could hold the wood in place, and/but guarantees that the bottom side of the wood is always exposed to moisture.

Joined: Aug 12 2004

There should be no difference between a rental vs homeowner mentality when it comes to this, but there is.

Tripping hazard is what I'm working to manage.

Friends coming over to "my" house would most likely not sue me if they tripped on a board that curled up due to moisture differential, but someone visiting one of my tenants who rent one of my units will surely sue the landlord.

I've had to settle one case where the tenant "ran" down the stairs, taking 3-4 steps at a time, while carrying a laundry basket full of clothes. Tripped on "something" and fell. Wittnesses (other tenants & maintenance guy) all said she does this all the time, have told her not to. We've written letters warning her not to, etc.

Insurance said to pay the medical bills and settle without accepting blame of any kind, as it was THOUSANDS of $$$$ less than going to court and she knew that.

There is a reason nails are used on those boards. Both to hold while the concrete is setting up (wood floats and would tend to move out of the concrete) and later when there is moisture differential and the wood curls up.

Using something that can come out easily which will create two potential hazards is not a good thing no matter how "good" it looks when it's in good shape. Loose pieces can cause someone to slip. Then the uneven or hole in the crack can cause someone to catch an edge and fall.

Just my opinion with a bit of been there done that experience.

Joined: May 15 2003

This is a message to "Ben". I had concrete poured into the gaps and the aggregate pressed into the wet cement. After it dried, they poured some kind of acid, I think, to wash to top layer of cement off to expose the aggregate.

Joined: May 19 2003

I just pulled mine out of the driveway. They were pretty rotted and filled with ants. I used a narrow prybar. Wear safety glasses because they pop and crack. Mine had smallish nails embedded in the concrete coming in from the sides which I was able to break or cut off. Cleaning the gaps was not hard. The spacers were 1.5" by 1.5" actual so 2x2's should be about right.
I plan to use liquid nails or similar adhesive to hold them in place.

(San Jose Fairhaven)

Chuck (West San Jose)

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