Laying a DIY concrete patio is one of the many cost-cutting projects to try at home. Laying down a concrete patio stone in your yard is a great patio design idea, and can spruce up a dull yard. Learn how to lay a DIY concrete patio in 5 easy steps.
Some of the most significant advantages of concrete patios you don’t want to miss include elimination of weed growth, zero ant infestations, and ease of cleaning because of the absence of cracks and gaps.
If you have been planning on pouring a concrete patio, here’s a simple five-step guide to making the best one and cutting down the concrete patio cost to save money for another equally crucial DIY project.
But first, here’s what you will need.
- Tape measure
- Mason’s lines
- A concrete mixer (optional)
- Wood saw
- Steel rake
- Line level
- Straight boards (2×4)
- Carpenter’s level
- Stiff-bristled room (optional)
- Wood float
- Many more
- Compactible gravel or crushed stones
- Binding wire
- Plastic sheets
- Concrete nails or spray adhesive
- Concrete sealer/Color/Mineral salt (optional)
- Vegetable oil
- Lumber (2×4)
- Steel rods for the reinforcement platform
- Deck screws
- And some more.
Here’s the process to follow to pour the concrete:
1. Survey and Mark the Patio Area
After you have all the necessary power tools, concrete finishing tools, and materials, and equipment, it’s time to map out the area you want the patio to cover.
Start by determining whether you want an attached or detached patio. The former is connected to the house, while the latter stands on its own a distance away from the house.
Measure out the size you want, mark the boundaries with spray paint, and then drive the wooden stakes into the ground at equal distances from one to the next. Next, use the mason’s lines or guide strings to fully mark the patio area in readiness for step two.
2. Excavate and Prepare the Ground
Once you have the patio area mapped out clearly, the next step is to excavate the space to remove the topsoil, sod, and debris that might get in your way.
Depending on the type of patio you want, a shovel will come in handy for a shallow patio and an excavator for a deep one.
A depth of four inches will do for a raised patio, but you can dig deeper if you intend to use heavy items on it.For a deep patio flashing with the ground level, excavate up to eight inches deep. The greater depth ensures the patio has a stable foundation. You should also opt for this depth if you plan to place heavy outdoor items like barbeque grills on the patio.
It’s essential to maintain a slight slope or slant when excavating. You can use a level to check on the slope, but the strings can also guide you if you are working on perfectly level ground.
The slope allows rain or cleaning water to flow off the patio instead of collecting on the concrete surface.
When excavating, take care not to damage the string layout. If the strings are too thin for you to see them well, consider using some string lights to foreground them for enhanced visibility.
3. Build and Install the Concrete Form
If you have the right tools and know how to use them, concrete forms are easy to make. First, cut the lumber or form boards into sizes that fit the lengths and widths you mapped out in step one.
The wood forms all around the patio space should be placed on the inside of the stakes. To build a stronger form, consider nailing the lumber to short straight forms rather than the stakes.
However, keep the stakes in place – at least until you drive all the vertical straight forms into the ground.
At this step, you also want to check that the concrete form maintains the slope you introduced in step two. Again, the levels will come in handy here, and the strings will also guide you.
4. Add a Gravel Base and Reinforcement
It is important to add a gravel base such that the concrete is not in direct contact with the ground.
The layer of gravel should be 2-4 inches. However, a thicker layer is allowed when you are on a tight budget and have to keep the concrete patio cost to the lowest possible minimum.
Instead of compactible gravel, you can also use sand or crushed stones. Compress the layer of gravel or crushed rocks using a handmade compactor with a broad base.
The idea here is not to drive the gravel into the ground. Rather, compacting is meant to level the stones out and form a reasonably level surface on which the reinforcing steel and concrete will be poured.
Talking of reinforcing steel, it’s important to strengthen the concrete slab with steel to reduce the chances of cracking.
Arrange the steel rods at equal distances from each other along the entire length of the patio. Do the same across the width to form sizable steel square boxes.
To keep the steel rods from shifting and ruining the square arrangement, use short pieces of binding wire to hold them together at the major joints across the patio space.
Note that plastic sheeting is important for this step if the patio site is prone to excessive flow of water from underground towards the surface. The sheet helps keep ants off as well.
Use a paintbrush to apply a thin coat of vegetable oil on the interior surfaces of the form to ensure the concrete doesn’t stick to the boards or lumber when you pour it. The parts to apply the oil on are the ones above the level of the gravel and reinforcing steel.
5. Pour and Finish the Concrete
Mix the concrete as per the instructions on the cement packaging and transfer it in batches onto the wheelbarrow for ease of pouring into the form. Use a shovel or strong hoe to spread the concrete until the entire patio form is full.
Screed the wet concrete using the straight 2×4 board as you remove any excess concrete with the shovel. At this point, you can partition the concrete to appear as if it is made of interconnected patio slabs. However, this might make it weak and prone to cracking.
Let the concrete cure for some time for bleed water to disappear from the surface. You should then smooth out any rough edges with an edger and a wood float on the surface of the concrete block. And bravo! It’s a finished project now. But you can add some icing to the cake.
To add some texture and improve slip resistance, consider sprinkling some mineral salt or adding a broom finish by brooming the surface. Some concrete coloring would be good as well. However, these steps are optional and the slab will still be good without them.
Keep curing the slab with water and wait for a few days for it to dry completely before you take out the concrete form.
As you have probably seen, it is easy to make a DIY concrete patio without having to break the bank. If you are on a tight budget, consider renting some of the tools and equipment instead of buying them for the project.
Be sure to bookmark this article for easy referencing when you finally get down to working on the DIY concrete patio. All the best!