Pouring a Concrete Walkway 2 - Preparation

Intro - Preparation - Mixing and Pouring - Screeding and Finishing - Clean Up
Preparing the Area

Now that you have all your materials gathered and you have a plan of what you are going to do, it's time to begin the actual labor. Before you mix any concrete, it is important to make sure that the area is ready to receive it. One of the biggest factors in determining the longevity of your sidewalk is how well you prepared the surface underneath it.

1. Use your shovel to dig the walkway area to a depth of 4". Make sure that the ground is fairly level and that there are no large pieces of debris.

2. Using the rake and the hand tamper, make sure that the surface is flat and level. By ensuring that the surface is level, you can be sure that your sidewalk is of a uniform depth.

3. When you are satisfied that the surface is flat and firm, roll the wire mesh over the entire area to be poured. This will most likely require some cutting and repositioning of the mesh. If you have some angles or turn a corner with your walkway, then you may have some places where the mesh overlaps. Don't worry, this is fine.

Building the Form

The form is what will hold the wet concrete into the desired shape while it cures. Some contractors will use a system of interlocking steel beams to create walkways. For the homeowner, however, it is quite feasible and fairly simple to build your own from wood.

1. Using the sledge hammer, drive a stake into each corner of the area that is to be poured. Tie the string to one stake, and then run it from stake to stake until you have created a string outline of your walkway.

2. Measure across the string at both ends of the walkway and in the center to make sure that your stakes are properly placed. This step is important because it will ensure that your walkway is square. This doesn't have any effect on the strength or functionality of the pour, but it will make a big difference in the way the final product looks aesthetically.

3. After you are comfortable with the layout of the area, continue to drive stakes into the ground every 6" to 8" making sure they are lined up evenly with the string. Once all the stakes are in, you can begin to screw the 1x4 boards onto the inside surface of the stakes. This creates the box that you will actually pour the mixed concrete into.

4. Take one final measurement of the completed box to ensure it is square. Adjustments are very difficult to make if you discover this problem after you have already started to pour.

As you can see, building a concrete form is fairly simple. Just keep in mind while you are building it that at a point in the future, you are going to need to run a 2x4 over the top of the entire form to screed out excess water. This will be much easier to do if you make sure that the stakes are driven about 1" below the top of the 1x4 board that makes up the wall of the form. It is very difficult to screed when there is a stake sticking up every 8 inches over the top of the form, and it's not something that you can go back and fix after the fact. Once you've got concrete inside the form, you are pretty much done making adjustments.
Intro - Preparation - Mixing and Pouring - Screeding and Finishing - Clean Up
Brian Simkins is a freelance writer living in Chicago. He enjoys using his 14 years of home improvement experience to educate and equip new home owners.