concrete molds on side walkway

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  #1  
Old 05-22-06, 10:15 AM
dsw
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Question concrete molds on side walkway

i've just dug up the concrete walkway next to my house (it was slanted toward the house, pooled water/ice, and leaked into my basement) and plan to lay down stones from a concrete mold. (Actually, I placing down a 2x2 mold -- comprised of about 6 stone shapes -- and filling it with concrete. related website: http://www.quikrete.com/catalog/Walkmaker-StonePattern.html )

I'm having trouble leveling out the area. The space is about 40" wide between my house and my fence. I know it needs to be graded away from the house. I have tried to smooth out the dirt, pounded it flat and (per the mold's instructions) planned to just lay the molds/pour the concrete directly on the dirt. But how do I ensure that the dirt is smooth/leveled evenly from end to end (the whole path will be about 3'x38')?

And should I do any additional prep work?
 
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Old 05-22-06, 03:57 PM
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See my lengthy series of posts here:
http://forum.doityourself.com/showthread.php?t=251404


To bottom line it - put down weed barrier or geotextile fabric to provide a good base and keep things even. Put a layer of pea gravel down and then a thick layer of sand. Use the gravel and sand to build your slope away from your foundation.

Actually, I should add a picture of the front pathway that we just finished...
 
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Old 05-23-06, 07:42 PM
dsw
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thanks sashacat. the thread you reference is very helpful. i do have a couple of follow-up questions:
1) it sounds like it is recommended that i use sand and/or gravel underneath the cement molds. is this for leveling purposes or for drainage purposes? i imagine it's easier to smooth out sand than it is to smooth out dirt. do i need both sand and gravel?

2) still not sure how to smooth out the area. if i use the sand, how do i make sure that the middle is not higher than either end? do i tie a string to a couple of stakes at either end and measure the height from the ground every foot or two?

3) and perhaps most difficult, how do i then make sure that the path is ever so slightly (and evenly) slanted away from my house?

thanks for your help.
 
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Old 05-24-06, 09:40 AM
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DSW -

1) I chose to go with the gravel and sand because that is the normal base when putting in pavers (which is really what you are doing), so we followed all the instructions for laying a paver patio except we didn't make our base layers quite as thick since this is a light traffic area, we used a base of about 2" as opposed the 4" for a patio. The sand in particular is what helps you level everything out. The gravel helps with drainage and stability.

The mold system is actually just a way of creating stones, you can pick them up and move them once they are dry (took me some time to realize this as well.) So, you can actually build all the stones in one area then move them to another area (when working in tight areas this actually makes the job easier.) This also gives you the ability to make custom stones - for example, our path ended in what would have been the middle of a mold, so we poured a mold off to one side of just the stones we needed and even reshaped a couple after we pulled up the mold to give us a clean edge where the path meets the driveway.

2) We used the string and stakes method to keep our center line straight but not for the overall level. The way I did my overall level was to get the level that wanted at my starting end - which for me was even with an existing concrete pad at the back gate. I figured my correct level by excavating about 4" below the level of the existing pad; the molds are 2" thick and I planned for 2" of base materials. From there I used a 4' level to make sure I was level alongside the house all the way down the path - personally I think you really need either a 3' or 4' level to do this project right but I suppose you could tape a couple smaller levels onto a 2x4 to get the same effect. I would level one 4' section and then move on to the next until I had done the entire side of the house. Don't forget - you can always adjust on the fly with more or less sand when you put down your base... On our front path, the sidewalk is actually about an inch higher than the driveway so we kept the level with the sidewalk for about 4' into the path and then let it slope down gradually to the level of the driveway.


3) What we did was use a piece of 2x4 cut to about 3' and taped a level on top of it. We used the 2x4 to push the sand around and create our slope - with a small walkway like this I only sloped around 1/4", just enough to direct water away from the foundation. With a good layer of sand as a base, you can also push the mold down until you get it the right level - which is what we did also. You put down your form and put a level on it to slope the right direction, then go mix your concrete. We checked the slope and level of every form before it was poured. Don't forget, even if you mess one up, you can always pick up the stones and re-level them by adding or taking away sand.
 
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Old 05-24-06, 05:31 PM
dsw
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great response! thanks for all the info. i think I may give it a try this weekend. i'll let you know how it goes -- or in a worst case scenario i'll email the forum again on saturday night with questions/problems...
 
  #6  
Old 05-24-06, 09:40 PM
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This was a great resource for learning about finishing:

http://www.rd.com/content/openConten...ontentId=17448

There are lots of different things you can do with your finish texture, including putting sand, river rock or tooling to make it look like stone....

We probably spent a good 15 minutes on finish work for each mold we poured - we did the finish work before we pulled the mold up. Pour a test mold or two and play a bit before you start your actual project....

Good luck!!
 
  #7  
Old 03-29-09, 03:23 PM
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we bought an old house that had these molded concrete paths and everyone loves them. they are probably 8-10 years old and laid on dirt with dirt fill. i just put preen on them to keep the weeds out.they have stood up in everything and have not cracked , peeled or heaved out in our 40 below temps.
 
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