Like a front door, a home’s front walk is a welcoming feature. So if your walk is settling or crumbling, you should consider replacing it. True, it’s tough work, but it can be accomplished in five distinct steps: demolition, grading, forming, placing, and finishing.  But one word of advice before you start: Order the right concrete. For walks, this means an exterior-grade 2500- or 3000-psi mix with air-entraining agents added. These agents form microscopic air pockets in the concrete as it cures, and this allows ice crystals to develop in cold weather without damaging the concrete’s surface. 

This project was originally published in the January 2001 issue of Popular Mechanics.  You can find more great projects at Popular Mechanics DIY Central.

Step 1: Demolition and Grading

Our old concrete walk was a victim of poor site preparation and design. Uncompacted base material had settled under the walk, tipping it toward the house. Because the walk was pinned to the front stoop with reinforcing bar, it settled and cracked. 
We removed the entire walkway using a 120-volt electric jackhammer. This tool made short work of it and was well worth the $50 rental fee.  When using the jackhammer, start at an outside corner and work in, chipping away 8-in.-wide pieces (see inset photo). About the only pleasant surprise in this job was that once the walk was removed, we found that the soil underfoot was firm and needed no further compaction. 

If this is not the case with your walk, you must compact the soil—and you may need to place crushed stone on top of it. Check with your local building department or a concrete supplier to see what materials and methods work best where you live. 

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Bio: The official instructable for Popular Mechanics magazine, reporting on the DIY world since 1902.
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