You can make patios from bricks, pavers, or even tiles. Yet, concrete remains a popular choice for building patios because of its inexpensive nature, versatility, and durability. In addition, concrete patios can handle the weight of several heavy patio decorations and furniture when properly reinforced.
They also require low maintenance, unlike competitions such as bricks and pavers. Thus, this write-up will discuss an easy guide on how concrete contractors build concrete patios to help you save some money if you can handle building one yourself. So, let’s get started.
Plan And Prepare To Build A Patio
As with any concrete project, planning and preparing before you begin the project is important. Here is because concrete is a material that can be difficult to manage due to its tendency to dry too quickly.
So, before starting your concrete patio, you must determine the amount of concrete you need and get the required tools in advance. Also, confirm if a permit is required to build a concrete patio in your state and get one if required.
Mark Out The Patio Area
Mark out the space you would be working on by driving sticks into the edge of the area. Tie a mason string between the sticks to determine the slope. The laid-out area will enable you to visualize what your concrete patio will look like. In the case of a hill or uneven ground, you can either dig out the higher side or fill, the lower side.
Excavate The Area
First, you should clear out all vegetation, such as weeds, grass, roots, etc., that might be in the staked area. Then, begin to dig your site with a mini-excavator or a shovel, depending on how large your project is. For example, you can dig the standard eight inches for a typical ground patio or dig deeper, but ensure to fill up minimal gravel of about 4 inches.
If you want a raised patio, you should dig only about half inches of what you would dig for a standard ground patio. To keep water from pooling on the patio surface, ensure the patio slopes away from your home according to your local code’s rate. You can tamp the soil with a plate compactor afterward.
Prepare Patio Base
Filling the excavated area with gravel is good for a more solid foundation. Thus, you can add a layer of gravel about four inches on top of the compacted soil. Then rake the gravel for an even surface. Ensure that you compact the gravel base afterward to avoid settling that might cause shifting in the concrete later.
Install The Patio Forms
The next step is to create and install a form that holds the concrete and helps it take shape into your patio. To create a form:
- Lay out a new perimeter of stakes slightly outside the previous one.
- Line your excavated area with 2×4 sized boards. Note that the wood should be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the concrete, and also, you would remove them afterward, so ensure you do not calculate it as part of your patio dimension.
- Use a nail or screw to affix the boards to the perimeter stakes.
Saw Off The Stakes
The stakes shouldn’t be visible; they should be just a little above the forms to help guide the concrete when pouring. So, you can use a saw to cut off the top of the stakes to ground level. You can also coat the form to prevent the concrete from sticking to it while pouring your concrete mix.
Pour The Concrete
Finally, it’s time to pour the concrete. You could either use a concrete pump or a wheelbarrow. If you use a wheelbarrow, pour the concrete with a shovel and gradually fill the framework. Note that it is important that you pour the concrete at once to avoid settling and cracking of the concrete.
Flatten The Concrete Surface
The next step is to level the concrete surface with a screed. You can use a long flat board or purchase an aluminum screed to flatten the top of the concrete. Move to and fro in a sawing motion to remove any extra concrete. You can use the extra concrete to fill low spots and achieve an even flat surface.
Go Over The Concrete With A Float
Once the concrete patio surface is flat and has lost its shine, then utilize a float to smoothen the surface. Gradually move the float to smoothen the concrete patio and fill out any dips. You can use wooden or bull float, but your concrete will bleed during this process. Therefore, before completing your patio, you will need to wait for this water to disappear.
Finish Your Concrete Patio
The first touch you might want to add to your concrete patio is to create a curved edge using an edger. Ensure you do this while the concrete is still damp.
You can also use a groover to create control joints that prevent your concrete patio from shifting and cracking in the future. Finally, use a broom to create an optional textured surface while the concrete is still damp. It isn’t necessary, but we recommend this to avoid slipping on the patio when there’s rain or wet
Cure Concrete Patio
Curing makes and breaks concrete. It is responsible for the durability of the material. So, ensure that you let your new patio cure adequately. Cover it with a plastic sheet and mist it with water while you wait for it to cure or spray the concrete patio with a chemical curing compound. Still, ensure that you do this for about seven days, and when the patio is ready, you can carefully slide out the form boards and fill any gaps left by the sides with soil.
Building a concrete patio is physically intensive, and depending on how large the patio you want to build, it might be difficult to handle it alone. If it is, hire a professional concrete contractor to help you do the job. However, if you can handle doing it alone, save some extra bucks by doing it yourself.