Made a concrete sidewalk today....

Discussion in 'Lawn Care/Landscaping' started by Pewterpower, Aug 9, 2006.

  1. Pewterpower

    Pewterpower New Member

    ...and I discovered that my sidewalk making skills suck. :D

    My sidewalk leading out of the front door, runs the length of the house about a foot away from the house. I've always used this 1 ft area as flower bed, but there is this one little section that I have always wanted to fill in with concrete. So today was the day.
    First off, there is a sewer clean out right smack in the middle of this little section. It never bothered me before cuz it was always mulched up and had flowers around it. But after I stripped all of that away, Idiscovered that the clean out sticks up way too high.
    So I got it lowered, and found a flush cap to put on it so it can be walked over without being a trip hazard.
    Now the concrete......
    I used plain old Quikrete but I underestimated by a little bit. I was about 1/2 inch too low, so I got a bag of sand/topping mix and I'm glad of it cuz I COULD NOT for the life of me make the Quikrete concrete smooth.
    So I fussed and I troweled and I smoothed and I edged and I repeated all that crap about a million times. It finally looks acceptable.
    I'm sure there is a simple little trick to making smooth sidewalks, but I don't know it. :rolleyes:
  2. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    New Hampshire
    The big box stores sell at least two grades of concrete. One grade has coarse stone, and not much sand and cement. It is not good for much except setting posts.

    I used a good bit in the past week that has more cement, is rated at 4000 psi or 5000 psi, and is specified for parts as little as 2" thick. That is what you should select for sidewalks.

    You need forms, probably a 2x4 on each side held in place with good stakes. They should be carefully adjusted with a level and/or a chalk line so the top of the form is the elevation of the finished sidewalk and is even without humps and valleys.

    Then you need a screed, which is a 2x4 on edge, long enough to let you work it back and forth on top of the forms. It is nice if you find a crooked 2x4 and use it with the arc up so there is a little crown in the sidewalk so it drains.

    After you pour excess concrete in the form starting at one end, you spread it with the screed. You want to pound on the forms with a hammer to get rid of the honeycomb that will otherwise be revealed when you strip the forms.

    Then you need a float, which is a board with a handle to work the surface. You will "float" fines and water to the top, but not too much. If you start with a fairly stiff mix, you should be able to float fines and water to the top to make a smooth finish.

    After it starts to set up a bit, you usually broom it so it isn't too slippery.

    When it gets stiff but is still workable, you edge it and put crack grooves across it at about 4 ft intervals, and at the intersection of any inside corners. Inside corners always crack and you want to force the crack straight across the sidewalk.

    After the concrete sets up, you want to keep it moist for at least a week. Too much water in the mix makes poor concrete, but drying after it sets up makes it weak. The cement in concrete (please don't call concrete "cement") forms a hydrate with water when it cures. No water in curing means no hydration which means poor concrete.
  3. Pewterpower

    Pewterpower New Member

    Sounds like I kinda, sorta did it all right.
    The patch that I poured is bounded on all sides, by the house, the existing sidewalk, and the driveway. No form was needed except for a small (about a foot) edge that I formed out with a 2X4.
    The fact that it was bounded by the house made it hard to float. I worked it by hand as best I could, to get it level, then I kept dragging a large, flat shovel across it. I did edge it, and I put a crack groove down the middle.
    I did not know about keeping it wet for a few days, so I'm gonna go hit it with the hose right now. ;)
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