Walks and Slabs
It may seem like a big job at first, but installing a walkway or slab can be done quickly and simply, with great results, if you have the proper materials, tools, and preparation. Once you're familiar with the work, you can make lots of improvements to your home; a walkway or slab can solve a variety of problems, including:
- Damaged landscaping at entryways
- Muddy areas and puddles,
- Lack of room or storage for trash cans or lawn equipment
- An unfinished appearance to entry areas
Each of these projects can be built in a weekend.
When beginning the installation of a walkway or any other home improvement project, planning is the most important step. Think about the what benefits you want from your new walk, and plan it's location carefully. Consider the size, shape, and path you want. Consider garden areas that may border the walk and plan accordingly.
Preparing The Area
Preparing the ground on which the walk or slab will lie is essential. Most problems with cracking or shifting can be traced to poor ground preparation. Make sure you:
- Remove all rocks, grass, roots and other obstructions.
- Fill in and compact all soft spots with a granular material likes sand, gravel, or crushed stone.
- Rake the area until smooth and even.
The form is the mold for your walkway or slab. The appearance and usefulness of your walk will depend greatly on the care you take in setting the form.
- Use 2x4 lumber for your form. This will ensure straight borders.
- Use "backfill". Using sand or soil under and outside the form will keep the concrete from seeping out.
- Use wood stakes to stabilize. These should be placed outside the form every 2 feet to prevent bulging. You should slant the walk to allow it to drain. As you stabilize the forms with stakes, make sure they are placed with a slant of 1/8 to ¼ inch fall for every foot of walk. This slight slant, away from the building, will allow for proper drainage.
- Nail the outside stakes to the form; saw the stakes flush with the top of the form.
- Check for a straight and even form by using a string or a level.
- Oil the forms for easier removal later.
Pouring the Concrete
The amount of concrete mix needed for your walk depends, of course, on the length of the walk. Use the chart below to determine how many bags are necessary.
Bags of concrete required
Length in feet 2 feet wide 3feet wide 4feet wide
2' 2 3' 4
4' 4 6 8
6' 6 9 12
8' 8 12 16
10' 10 15 20
12' 12 18 24
Bags per foot of length 1 1.5 2
Note: Requirements are approximate and based on 80 or 90 lb. Bags of concrete mix and at a 3 5/8 inch depth.
- Mix the concrete mix as directed on the package.
- Place the concrete in the forms. Start at a corner and work down. A square shovel is useful for this purpose.
- Use a wood straight edge to even the concrete surface.
Finishing The walk
Finishing operations will give will give your walk a professional look as well ensure a longer life. Good edging and placement of control joints will prevent cracking and chipping.
When the concrete has stiffened slightly (and foot pressure leaves only about a ¼ inch indentation ) you can begin edging.
- Cut the concrete away from the forms with a trowel.
- Place the edger tool flat on the concrete surface.
- Guide the edger across the complete length of the walk, leaving a smooth rounded edge.
Immediately after edging, you can add the joints, which will keep the walk from cracking when the outside temperature changes. The joints should be 4 to 5 ft. apart.
- Place a piece of straight wood across the width of the walk.
- Using the wood as a straight edge, run a groover across the width of the walk. For a smooth joint, the groover should be run forward once, and then, back once again toward you.
As the concrete hardens, or cures, make sure it does not dry out too quickly. Follow proper curing procedures and you'll have a walk of increased strength and finer appearance.
What You'll Need
- Concrete Mix (check the chart for quantities)
- Wheelbarrow (or other mixing container)
- Square shovel
- Edging tool
- Sand, gravel, or other filler
- 2 by 4 lumber (for forms)
- Lumber cut for stakes
- Clean water
If you have any questions regarding these plans, please email us.
Copyright ©1999-2015, Handyman USA LLC.
All rights reserved.