Pouring a Concrete Walkway 5 - Clean Up and Sealing
Intro - Preparation - Mixing and Pouring - Screeding and Finishing - Clean UpThe key to doing a concrete project without ruining your tools is to clean up as you go. Do not stack dirty tools in a pile and then plan on cleaning them up at the end. Chances are you will have a big pile of dirty tools that are stuck together. Keep a garden hose nearby so that you can spray down each tool as soon as you are done with it and set it aside to dry.
There may be some excess concrete that ends up drying outside the form. If you shovel it up, it makes great fill around foundations or if you ever have any posts to sink. If not, it can be disposed of at the landfill. The 1x4 boards that you used to create the form are certainly useable. While they probably aren't going be used for finish work, they will do just fine for any structural work. The exposure to the wet concrete will not harm them at all.
I would always recommend that you select a weekend for this project when the weather forecast does not include rain. If some unexpected showers turn up in the first 24 hours or so after you complete the project, make a quick trip to the store and get some heavy plastic sheeting. Just lay it over top of the concrete. It's OK if the surface get a little wet; you just want to prevent puddling directly on the concrete.
There are a number of products available to seal your new concrete walkway. One of the biggest mistakes people make is using one of these products right away. This has a negative effect on how well your concrete will cure. Even though it may look hard an dry on the outside, it can take a long time - even weeks or months - for concrete to cure all the way through. The sealer is design to keep your concrete from absorbing water, but if it is designed to keep water out, then it will also keep water in. By sealing too soon, you can actually trap moisture inside the pour and it may never cure properly. When it freezes in winter then, this moisture will expand and your new sidewalk will crack. It is generally recommended that you wait until the second season to seal a new patch of concrete.
With that said, grab a piece of paper. Draw a picture and make a list. With the right preparation, this is a project that you can do in a day and one that will add value to the exterior of your home immediately.
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.