Introduction: How to Make a Nice Cement Patio

Picture of How to Make a Nice Cement Patio

I came across this idea at the home-de-pot when I found in the cement section plastic forms for making walkways. They did not have a form that I liked or one that was big enough so I decided to make my own.

Step 1: The Form

Picture of The Form

I built a simple mold with 1/4" X 3" poplar stock from the local big box hardware store. Then I used 1/4"x 1/4" square stock to make a decorative pattern. The whole thing was held together with grabber screws. I used Vaseline as a release.

Step 2: The Cement

Picture of The Cement

It took approximately three(80 lbs) bags of cement to fill one form (3 foot x 3 foot x 3 in) so after I got the form in place and level I mixed the cement coloring with the water and then mixed the cement into a fairly workable texture. Then pour the cement into the form and work it around until all of the air pockets are worked out. It is important not to leave any aggregate from the cement on the top of the form, this will make it harder to remove later.

Step 3: Form Removal

Picture of Form Removal

Wait around two hours for the wet cement to harden enough to allow the form to be removed. Gently tap on the surface of the wood form to release it and slowly work the form up and off. There was some cracking but dont worry about it. The mortar will fill in any voids.

Step 4: Mortar

Picture of Mortar

Finally after allowing all the cement to cure I swept in the mortar into the cracks and wet it down gently with the hose. The mortar ties the whole piece together and reinforces the cement as well as filling any voids.


Vikking (author)2010-03-13

I just bought a house and wanted to do brick along the side, when I moved in, it's all weeds, this seems like it would be a lot cheaper and less aggravation doing this instead of lying brick one by one. I'm deffently going to have to do this when the weather warms up. thanks for sharing this. after I finish I'll try to post pictures and updates on my project.

SpinnerOfWood (author)2016-12-01

Thank you for this I had planned on adding a walkway to the side door of my house using bricks where allot of drainage goes from my back yard during heavy rains.. This is way easier and more cost effective not to mention less labour intensive

kleinjahr (author)2008-11-07

Nicely done. It'll make a nice floor for your new shop. Personally I think I would of bedded it on a couple of inches of pea gravel or sand, with a layer of plant barrier fabric underneath. "Grout" with loose sand. This allows for drainage,expansion and prevents weed growth. Also easier to level.

I like this idea!

elbardalet (author)kleinjahr2012-03-25

Excellent idea, congratulations! Thanks for sharing
I'm going to put in practice, however everytime I will prepare concrete, I have the same question.
Whats the best/d ratio of mixture (cement, sand, stones)?
Can someone give me ideas?
Thank you

kimormiston (author)2016-01-10

I made a fabulous 18 x 20 foot patio but instead of using the forms as 'forms' I used them as stamp. Didn't have to worry about weeds coming through. Looked like as much like separate stones as it does using the form. I then stained the concrete red, then washed with black and then white to give the overall look of brick. I would never use patio stones again!

kirnex (author)2013-06-20

This is great. I actually own two of these forms myself, but haven't been able to use them yet. I plan to use them to do a hybrid concrete overlay on an existing patio around a pool. Do you have any recommendations for .working around bends, curves and/or angles, or was that not an issue?

I've also considered using the forms to make my own patio pavers. I might do that, but since the concrete blend will contain polymers, I'm not sure that's a good idea as an overlay for the current concrete patio--as they would require some type of adhesive (liquid nails, more likely) in order to secure them.

Anyhow, your patio turned out amazing--I'd have never known that was a concrete form DIY. Looks terrific.Thanks for sharing.

nice sister (author)2012-05-20

This turned out really nice -- thanks for sharing!
Two questions:
1. what did you use as mortar?
2. how much did this project cost?

seekir (author)2011-09-08

I've used Pam (spray for cooking) as a form release on smooth-surfaced melamine-surfaced particle board forms. Not sure how well it'd work on unfinished wood, but it's easy to apply and like vaseline, probably non-toxic.

wobbler (author)2011-07-19

Nice! Your final outcome is much better than the false looking imprints used on drives around here and from your photos looks like real separate slabs..

Btower (author)2009-02-02

I worked with pattern imprinted concrete for nine years. It is important to know that a suitable mix would be 3 parts small stones(agregrate) 2 parts sand, one part cement. These bags may be ready mixed similar.

jmb3r2 (author)Btower2011-01-28

This helps. Thank you.

bigbrowndad (author)Btower2009-06-11


Flegeance (author)2011-01-27

How about a close up of the Form. It looks like the you made the individual bricks with a 1/4inch X 1/4 inch square dowel??? It seems the Concrete would break that when you are laying it down. Great Instructable.

bassman76jazz (author)Flegeance2011-01-28

yes, its 1/4 square poplar stock. It held up well but i did not pour in the concrete mix from very high, just from a wheelbarrow...

thafunki1 (author)2010-09-26

if u run a quick edger between the concrete and the mold you would eliminate most of your cracking ....

uvodee (author)2009-12-05

Great idea and awesome follow up comments of the members here.
My two cents: Vaseline may be a great way to prevent the wood for sticking but I have done the following with super results = make sure the wood is super wet before sticking it in the concrete and oil it up with motor oil.
Making it super wet will expand the wood and when it is drying it will come loose by itself. The oil prevents the cement from sticking to the wood...
I have done this about 32 times making one cover stone at a time for a brick wall.

roxiel (author)2009-09-18


enginepaul (author)2008-11-06

Hate to be nit-picky, but one should use sacks of concrete mix, not cement.. Experiment with the water content of your mix and I think you'll find that you can remove the form sooner than two hours. Nice project and a great idea on the mold.

glorybe (author)enginepaul2008-12-25

Concrete in pre mixed bags is about the worst way to go as far as money is concerned. This project is ideal for ferro-cement. Simply mix 15% cement with sand and add water to make a mix that is a bit on the stiff side. Several layers of chicken wire are a cheap addition for strength and safety's sake. Two inches of thickness is overkill with adequate wire in the mix. The best advice is to work the mix into the wire with a toilet plunger and then trowel it to suit yourself. Let each block remain untouched for a full month for curing purposes. Keep plastic sheet below each block and keep damp burlap on top to retain water while curing. This stuff is uncanny in its strength when done right,

bigbrowndad (author)glorybe2009-06-11

Post some pics please.

maker419 (author)2009-03-27

This patio uses only gravel as a sublayer and actually absorbs rainwater for later irrigation : Low cost too.

bassman76jazz (author)maker4192009-04-01

I have built brick patio's before its a lot of work getting things level and eventual they get all out of whack. and brick paver are not that low cost but the look is fantastic. originally that is what I wanted to do but the cost was prohibitive. in a way it's like I built my own pavers.

foobear (author)2008-12-18

cool! I'm getting ready to buy a house. This will be handy.

Newblit (author)2008-11-20

Very nice although I think you would have had a more stable set up and created stronger cement if you would have bought more wood and just did the whole design at once instead of in multiples let it harden totally then come back with the mortar after you pull up the would that separated the different things.

osgeld (author)2008-11-08

looks nice, good job!

gl000001 (author)2008-11-08

Nice, but it's a concrete patio. When you mix cement (the powder) with water, sand and some aggregate there is a chemical reaction called polymerization and the mixture becomes concrete.
Cement, sand and water becomes mortar. Cement and water becomes "parge" or "rough coat" ("crepi" in french. I'm not sure about the translation).
Same as with flour. Mix it with different ingredients and it becomes : bread, pancakes, cake ...

nolte919 (author)2008-11-07

What are grabber screws? And what does it mean by Vaseline was used as a release? Was the form coated in Vaseline to make it easier to release it from the concrete?

dchall8 (author)2008-11-04

What a great idea! Good for you!! Thanks for sharing. I don't understand your form. Is the pattern 3 inches deep or is the pattern more like a surface effect? It seems like the pattern part would be too fragile if it was only 1/4 inch deep. Can you elaborate on how you made the form? I don't know what a grabber screw is, either. Can you post a parts list and some more pictures into the Instructable? What attracted me to this was the use of the word cement. Usually it is used incorrectly and you are in that category. What you made was concrete. Cement is the special ingredient which, when mixed with sand, aggregate, and water, causes a chemical reaction that turns it all into concrete.

cfuse (author)dchall82008-11-06

> I don't understand your form. Likewise. If this is surface patterning, then it's easier to do on a large slab post pour with a concrete saw. (Lazy) People where I am use contrasting textured paint for a similar effect. If however, the form is a case of making many pavers at once, then it seems like it could be done in an easier manner.

bassman76jazz (author)cfuse2008-11-07

no problem with that, other than my project cost less then renting a concrete saw

cfuse (author)bassman76jazz2008-11-07

Which is important given that thrift is invariably a large part of any instructable.

Punkguyta (author)dchall82008-11-04

> I don't understand your form. Is the pattern 3 inches deep or is the pattern more like a surface effect? It seems like the pattern part would be too fragile if it was only 1/4 inch deep. Can you elaborate on how you made the form? . Thats what I was thinking too when I looked at the pictures. > What attracted me to this was the use of the word cement. Usually it is used incorrectly and you are in that category. What you made was concrete. Cement is the special ingredient which, when mixed with sand, aggregate, and water, causes a chemical reaction that turns it all into concrete. . You wouldn't believe the amount of people that don't know the difference, and assume they are both different pourable mixtures. You are totally correct tho dchall.

bassman76jazz (author)Punkguyta2008-11-06

well the term is portland cement

dchall8 (author)bassman76jazz2008-11-06

If you want to split hairs, it's capital P Portland cement because of an obscure reference the the Isle of Portland in England.

bassman76jazz (author)dchall82008-11-07

I'm to busy doing projects to be bothered with the shift key.

dchall8 (author)Punkguyta2008-11-04

The other thing I see a lot is people saying, "if you mix sand and clay you get concrete (or sometimes cement)." That is also incorrect. At best you get adobe from that mix, but usually adobe has grass in it. The only ways to get stabilized solid blocks is to use cement in a damp mix with no clay or to bake clay at high enough temperatures to make it a ceramic. But I don't want to belabor the cement versus concrete. That's just a pet peeve of mine. I really like the idea of this Instructable and am anxiously awaiting the clarifications as to making the form.

Punkguyta (author)dchall82008-11-05

I want to build my own aqua-duct out of adobe. >I really like the idea of this Instructable and am anxiously awaiting the clarifications as to making the form. . Well he isn't doing much at keeping up with his comments, so I'll answer for you. Although it does look VERY close to those grooves actually going all the way down, look at the picture in step 3 (picture 2). Look at the form in the right corner of the picture, I wouldn't say those go down any more than 2-3 centimeters.

Fildain (author)Punkguyta2008-11-06

He created a box with the 1/4" X 3", and then inside the box created a pattern flush to the top with the 1/4" x 1/4". You can see it in step 3 clearly.

janquito (author)Punkguyta2008-11-06

I don't know if it is just me or what but I do not have a problem seeing that this is more than 1/4" deep. ??

bassman76jazz (author)dchall82008-11-07

the pattern is only 1/4 in. deep, the walls of the form are 3 in. deep

johnnyoh (author)2008-11-07

Looks like a great idea. I am about to extend an existing patio. Did you happen to use rebar or hardware cloth to prevent this from cracking?

bassman76jazz (author)johnnyoh2008-11-07

in my first test piece I used chicken wire but it didn't seem to be needed.

dchall8 (author)bassman76jazz2008-11-07

For an ornamental patio or walkway, I agree about not *needing* reinforcing wire for this type of shallow "slab" construction.

However for a nice patio I probably would reinforce the addition. You might even consider drilling holes for rebar into the edge of your existing patio. To attach the new rebar to the old patio, mix epoxy putty and put it in the holes. Then hammer the rebar into the putty inside the holes. Stuff as much putty in as you can. Once you pour the new concrete, the rebar will permanently tie the new patio to the old. I've used liquid epoxy to mount four 250 horsepower electric motors to a deep slab and it worked perfectly. For a patio I would drill the holes about four to six inches deep. Bend the end of the rebar to 90 degrees for about 4 inches.

Also for a patio I would build a dirt trench around the edge so that the outside edge of the new patio would be at least 2-3 inches deeper than the slab itself. Ten inches deeper would be much better, but you start to make much more out of the project when you get into engineering the slab. You could use rebar or cattle (or hog) panel (usually available at a feed store) to reinforce the slab and in the trench. When the trench fills with concrete, it dries to form a structural support beam around the new patio.

By the way the methods used in this Instructable can be practiced in any sand or dirt pile. Mix a gallon of redimix and make a few stepping stones to perfect your methods and timing.

harriet (author)2008-11-07

Hi, great job. I have two questions, one of which was already answered (regarding the base). Was there other prep work that you did? For example, how did you check levelness? And I see from Picture 1 that it appears that the existing cement alongside your new structure is a fairly straight line. Did you make it straight yourself? If yes, what did you use to chisel away at the existing cement? Thanks!

bassman76jazz (author)harriet2008-11-07

I set up the form with a level being careful to make sure the water would run of in the proper direction.

harriet (author)bassman76jazz2008-11-07

thanks for the info

cnc_gary (author)2008-11-07

I think that the idea is great. Congratulations on having a thought and putting it into practice. I bet that this will inspire you to do more "CONCRETE" work. Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing!

jvangurp (author)2008-11-07

I like the fact it is the same idea as the commercial plastic forms but you didn't like the size and proportions so you made your own, much more pleasing sized patterns. I also really like the mortar in the "joints" - nice touch! Up here in Canada we would lay down a 4" bed of compacted gravel just because there's such a severe freeze and thaw cycle with ground heaving and potential cracking of concrete slab. Mind you, at this size they probably wouldn't crack, or the joints would control it. Thanks for the ideas... another project for next year.

drawe21 (author)2008-11-04

All, if you click the 'I' in the top left of the photo in step 3 and select 1600x1200 Original size photo you can see the form is 3" to 4" tall and the bricks are surface only (about 1/2" deep) The screws look like normal wood screws to me... (click and learn)

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