We are in the middle of home renovation. We recently poured a concrete sidewalk to help keep down on the dirt that gets tracked through the house and reduce the worn paths through our yard. We are also landscaping our yard. It cost a lot to have someone pour concrete and it is quite a savings to do it yourself. We saved about $300.00 doing this ourselves. With a few tools and know how; it can be fairly easy to do. We are not professionals, we are just home owners trying to save money by doing it ourselves. You will need basic knowledge of construction, concrete, and experience on how to use tools and safety precautions to do this instructable. Follow through to see how we did it!
Disclaimer: If you use this instructable as a guide to pour concrete or anything else ; We are not professionals, you do so at your own risk. Please take the necessary precautions to keep tools, cement, boards, and everything mentioned here out of the reach of anyone who may injure themselves. Protect areas you are working in, mark them with red flags so no injuries will result from accidents. Read all instructions on cement packages to inform yourself of all risks and warnings. Tools can injure, hurt, and resulting in loss of life, accidents happen.Thanks.
Step 1: Remodeling
This instructable was hard for me to share because everything is in such a mess. I set aside my reservations because I wanted to share this information with this community. We are in the middle of many projects. We are pouring concrete, building a shop, landscaping, re-roofing, replacing windows, plumbing, and painting the exterior of the house to list a few.
Then there is the inside; kitchen and bath! I will be sharing as we finish each job here on instructables. Most people would start on the inside but we have a large yard and a small house so we needed a shop to store everything and a place to work and keep tools and materials protected.
The concrete is almost all finished except for the driveway. That will be the last thing we do. For this instructable I will be sharing how we poured a section of sidewalk to finish the concrete for the back yard. We hope to finish the shop and plant the lawn very soon. I mention this to you because if you will be doing any of these things, you might keep an eye open for my new instructables as I share them here.
Step 2: Things to Consider
There are many things to consider before building or remodeling. One should know the laws for their area and find out if any permits are required. Consider the weather conditions. We live in the Southwest and do not have severe weather conditions. Here is a comment from one of my readers who is an architect, I wanted to add his comment to the body of this instructable with his permission of course.
Now, it looks like your paths are not being used as primary entry paths so I don't think my comments really apply, and obviously your kind of done so it's a little late in the game to change. :) These comments aren't really directed at you and are in no way a criticism of your project. These are for people in the early stages.
I live in Cleveland which is a colder climate and we get a lot of rainfall so freeze/thaw and drainage are major factors. Now I should also say that I'm an architect and by definition lazy. I put stuff on paper and have others do all the work :)
Add a 4" layer of gravel below the sidewalk. This as a drainage plain so that subsurface water will drain away from the sidewalk and there it is less likely to heaving. If you are also incorporating paving like bricks then I will add a 4" layer of sand on the gravel.
Instead of using 2x for formwork use siding boards and wooden stakes. Siding boards are flexible and can be straight or easily bent to make nice smooth curves.
4" minimum depth and add reinforcing mesh, usually 6x6 w1.4/w1.4. as you pour hold the mesh in the middle of the slab.
Add expansion strips whenever butting up against existing paving or foundation.
Slope the sidewalk to one side for drainage. This is simply done by setting one side of the formwork a lower than the other side.
As a general rule i use 3'-6" minimum (preferably 4') for walks because unfortunately down the road someone may be in a wheel chair, so it's good to make things wheel chair width. A wheel chair can fit on a 3' wide walkway but it's good to give a little breathing room on either side to keep from rolling off the edge.
Add 2" pvc pipes (1' wider than walk) under the sidewalk at logical locations for future sprinkler lines and wiring for outdoor lighting. Cap the ends of the pipes but don't glue it so that the pvc won't get clogged with dirt. When you pour the walk, add marks in the concrete so you can easily locate the pipes down the road.
I've done a lot of projects over the years where they've had to tear up walkways that failed for easily preventable reasons, often within only a few years. I'm happy to do these projects because it keeps me employed but a little extra planning in the beginning could have saved a lot of aggravation and a lot of money.
Another example is for commercial projects (especially schools and church's with children
and elderly), I will also include snow melt piping under the concrete. Snow melt systems are very expensive, but the tubing is cheap and easy to install if done in the beginning so they wont have to rip up the slab if they decide ever hook it up.
Step 3: Supplies
Buckets for measuring sand and gravel and concrete
We used the Epsom salts containers from Sam's club and coffee containers
Bucket of water for washing hands, and tools ect.
Shallow rectangle containers for mixing concrete ( You can buy them at your local hardware store in the concrete section.)
Construction Screws 1 5/8" and 3" also called decking screws
Sand and Gravel mix
Thick rubber (protective gloves a must! at any hardware store as well as protective clothing and rubber boots.)
Garden hose with an on off attachment
2 X 4's for the forms
Wood or metal stakes for holding the forms into place.
We used a sheet of plywood to set everything on as you can see.
A stiff brush to clean everything.
The sidewalk is about 80' X 2 1/2', using approximately 2 1/2 yards of sand and gravel from a local gravel pit for $80.00 and 14 bags of 94lb. Portland cement, at $11.00 a bag from Home Depot. We spent about $80.00 on lumber.
If you are pouring the entire project in one pour (it is best to order the concrete from a ready mix company because you can't mix it fast enough on the job site.) Unfortunately unless you need a lot of ready mix it can be very expensive because they usually require a minimum of 5 yards, enough to pour a 3 foot sidewalk 130 feet long or approximately 400 sq. feet.
If pouring the entire project in one pour you will also need expansion joints about every 20 feet to allow the concrete to expand or contract without cracking or breaking. Every 5 feet you will need to make a break control groove. These will replace the cross boards we have in the form. You can make a break control groove with a jointing trowel. These are used to prevent the sidewalk from cracking and buckling during weather changes.
Step 4: Tools
Wheelbarrow 6 cubic foot heavy duty
Plastic tubs for mixing concrete or a wheel barrow
Saw for cutting 2 X 4 forms to length
2 foot level
Hose with a valve shut off on end optional but very helpful
Step 5: Trucking the Concrete
You can have your forms ready to pour and order concrete delivered but it is expensive if you don't need a truck load. But watching these short videos will show how they used a truck and how they worked with the concrete. They have great tips on how to order a load. They use a bull float because the area they are pouring is much larger than we show here. I don't recommend pouring a large area if you don't have any idea how to do this. It could be a very costly mistake as well as a lot of hard work to remove. Sometimes you can get a lot of experience by volunteering to help a friend or neighbor when they are working on projects like this.
Step 6: Draw Plans
Draw your design and make a materials list.
The path should be 3" deep (or to firm dirt) and 6" wider than the finished dimensions of the sidewalk.
If you have no experience in doing anything like this, build small forms for stepping stones until you get an idea how it is to work with. If you are successful at this task then you should be able to pour a sidewalk in small pours like this.
Step 7: Gather and Organize Tools and Materials
When pouring concrete it is best to have everything you need ready to use. Check and double check to be sure you have everything; especially if you are working alone. We suggest if you are pouring for the first time it is best to pour in small sections over a period of several days. If a mistake is made it is not that costly or time consuming to correct. My husband is older and can't work as hard as he used to. This method works for him. We made sections and poured every other one, then went back and removed the form boards from the middle after they were dry and poured in between them. We did this over a period of several days depending on how much he was able to work that day. You can pour all at once if you wish but I recommend some experience if you do.
Step 8: Sidewalk Prep Work
Dig path 3" deep (or to firm the dirt ) and 6" wider than finished sidewalk.
Level and firmly pack the dirt to avoid the concrete from settling and cracking.
We live in the southwest so if you live in an area where there is rainfall, snow, or freezing and thawing do the necessary research on how to pre-pare the forms before you begin this job. Thanks.
Step 9: Cut Lumber and Set Forms
Cut the lumber to the lengths you will need and miter the ends for any angles you may have or square the end of the form boards if the design is straight.
Lay them out in the pattern you designed.
Cut the lumber for the cross boards. These will be used to section off the concrete to pour a few sections at a time.
Screw the boards together to form the desired pattern, and add the cross boards every 4 or 5 feet equal distance apart.
Drive the stakes into the ground using the sledge hammer on the outside of the forms to stabilize and level them.
Screw them to the outside of the board as shown.
Lightly pack dirt around the outside of the form board carefully not disturbing the forms.
Step 10: Measure Sand and Gravel, Concrete and Water
It is time to gather all your containers and tools to measure the concrete and the sand, and gravel to get ready to pour the sidewalk. The concrete comes in 94 pound bags. You can buy premix concrete but it is expensive and takes a lot of it. Be sure to use the gloves and protective clothing. Concrete can burn you skin and leave scars. If you want a smooth glaze surface you will need to add more concrete to the mix, but a smooth finish will make it very slick to walk on when wet or icy. The sidewalk we poured had a good finish with a little texture.
3 Parts sand and gravel mixture
1 Part concrete
1 Part Water
Step 11: Getting Ready to Mix Concrete
Now that you have the mixture ready put on your protective gear and pour the sand and gravel into the black containers.
Add the concrete.
Step 12: Mixing the Concrete
We keep a bucket of water handy to rinse off the tools and our gloves as soon as possible. Later we will clean them better.
Mix the sand and gravel together, mix, mix, mix.
Add the concrete.
Mix, mix, mix, thoroughly.
Add the water.
Mix, mix, mix, thoroughly.
Step 13: Pouring the Concrete
Pour the concrete into the form.
Pack it down using the rake.
Fill to the rim of the form.
Step 14: Screed the Concrete
Screed the concrete using a small piece of 2x4 as shown.
To screed you use a sawing motion back and forth as you slide the board forward.
This will level the concrete and remove the excess concrete.
Step 15: Trowel
The grooves you see in sidewalks are used to control the cracking or breaks from expansion and contraction .
Severe weather can crack the concrete. When this happens the breaks are usually formed at the control grooves and usually won't crack the larger areas.
Pat down the concrete using a trowel, or a garden rake. Please read bottom note.This is called working the concrete or compacting the concrete. In the video they use a vibrator but not many people use them for small jobs. The idea is to compact the sand and gravel which prevents air pockets from forming which weakens the concrete.
Work the cream to the top of the surface for a smooth finish.
Trowel the concrete as shown, using the different trowels.
Notice how he finished the edges.
Depending on the time of year and the weather conditions, after a half hour or so; check and see if it can be troweled. Trowel the surface again and around the edges using a finishing trowel, at this time you trowel in the brake control grooves using a jointing trowel. I will show a picture of them. This should be done when the concrete is still wet enough to work with.
Concrete is very dangerous and can cause chemical burns to your skin. It is so important to keep your skin protected and not allow the concrete to come in contact with your skin or clothing. Wear protective clothing! My husband is very careful but he should have been wearing more protective clothing and rubber boots. The truth is he forgot to do this when we poured this section where we took pictures. That day we poured one square and he was not worried about it. His jeans are very heavy but had I been doing this I would have considered the unexpected so I would not get any burns. Safety should always come first. If you do get cement on you or your clothing rinse immediately with water.
Step 16: Clean Up the Tools
It is so important to clean the tools and forms as soon as you can because the concrete dries on what ever it touches and it is very hard, almost impossible to remove after it dries.
By the way if you wash all the forms as soon as you remove them using a scraper, brush, and water, you can re-use all the boards for something else later.
Step 17: Remove Forms
Remove the forms that divide the sections after they dry, usually overnight. If pouring all at once remove all the form boards. Concrete is green and brittle during the curing process. You can walk on it after it dries but it is still brittle for several days. I am sorry I did not get a good picture of this part. We will be pouring more concrete in the future and I will upload a picture at that time.
After the final pour has dried remove all the form boards and clean them.
Step 18: Clean Up
Clean all the forms, buckets, brush, tools, and anything that has concrete residue on it.
Step 19: Finished Projects
Here are a few before and after projects we did with concrete.
Step 20: Sunshiine's Final Thoughts
In closing I would like to thank our instructables company, sponsors, authors, readers, and members; for making this community a great success! Many hours and hard work has been put into making this place the best DIY on the Internet. Have fun and thanks for stopping by!