Pouring a Concrete Sidewalk: Mistakes to Avoid

Lead Image for Pouring a Concrete Sidewalk: Mistakes to Avoid
  • 6-48 hours
  • Beginner
  • 200-4,000
What You'll Need
Cement Mixer
Framing Lumber
Rebar or Wire Mesh
Protective Gear, Gloves, Eyewear, and Clothing
Tie Wire
Ground Spacers
Trowel and Float
#9 Lineman's Pliers for Tying Wire

Installing a concrete sidewalk is simple. When done properly, this can add to property values and last for many years. When it's done hastily it will create an eyesore that will require constant repair. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when pouring concrete sidewalks, and how you can avoid them.

Not Contacting a Building Inspector

Most people think a sidewalk is a simple do-it-yourself project. While this isn't far from the truth, your city probably has regulations regarding sidewalks. In many places, you still need a building permit, even for a small sidewalk. It's better to call and get this information before you begin the project than to be blindsided with large fines later.

Not Leveling the Ground

Many people assume that they can just pour a new sidewalk over an existing one. If the existing sidewalk is badly damaged the new sidewalk won't be any better. The old sidewalk will need to be chipped out before a new once can be poured. Another common mistake is not leveling the ground correctly even without a sidewalk. The ground needs to be prepared and level before a sidewalk can be poured.

Not Using a Base

You can pour a sidewalk without using gravel or sand as a base, but it's not advisable. Using gravel or sand as a base will help maintain an even sidewalk, and will help with drainage issues. Water that is allowed to pool under the sidewalk will eventually lead to the concrete failing and cracking. Spend a few extra bucks on some gravel to help with drainage to avoid costly repairs later.

Not Leveling the Poured Concrete

Once the concrete has been poured it needs to be finished. The wet concrete needs to be leveled and should be done a few times before it dries. This will eliminate invisible hills and bumps that can cause people to trip on the sidewalk.

Not Taking Proper Measurements

Don't think you can just eyeball the area and know how much concrete you need. You need to measure your form, lay out your framework, and measure again. Too much concrete will leave you with a problem when it comes to disposal, not to mention it's a huge waste of money. Not enough concrete will require more work on your part.

You will need to wait for the section you have poured to cure before you can add more concrete. Doing this will result in a cold joint, and will create a weak spot that is susceptible to damage. If you are uncertain how much concrete will be needed, you can consult with someone at a home improvement retailer, or a professional, to find out how much concrete will be necessary.

Not Using Adequate Framing

The framing isn't going to be permanent, but it needs to be strong and sturdy for the pour. If the frame moves, the concrete sidewalk will shift. This will create an uneven sidewalk, and if it falls apart you will have a huge mess to contend with, and will likely need to start the project over.