4 Steps to a Concrete Sidewalk

A sidewalk can be a great way to get the most out of your front entryway or other entrances to and from structures and areas of interest around your yard. But you don’t have to hire a professional concrete company to do the work for you. You can easily do the work yourself using basic concrete materials and tools, a little elbow grease and these four simple tips for building your own concrete sidewalk.

Prepping the Area

Determine the width and length of your sidewalk. Use a string or garden hose to layout the sidewalks path, then mark the grass using layout grade spray paint. Using a sod cutter, remove the sod from the between the path, leaving a little extra for play on each side. Next, cut a 2×4 two feet bigger than your sidewalk is wide. Turn it on a slight diagonal and use it to grade the soil flat and level. Don’t cut it to fit evenly between the sidewalk grade, I’ll tell you why in a minute.

Setting the Forms

Straight form work should be made using 2×4’s as long as you can get for nice straight lines. Use a 1×4 or piece of plywood for curved sidewalk forms. Set the forms the required distance apart and evenly on the ground. Use 1x1x24 stakes for a secure set of forms. Drive stakes just below the top of the forms about every four feet apart and nail the form from the outside in using 8d duplex nails. Once the forms are set to the stakes and secured, backfill in any voids with excess dirt and level using the grading 2×4.

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Pouring the Concrete

The next step is pouring the concrete. Whether you hire a concrete delivery truck or you mix the bags yourself, be sure to dampen the ground before you pour any concrete to help preventing it from drying prematurely. Pour the concrete in sections small enough that you can handle like four foot at a time. Use a small 1×2 form to break the concrete pour evenly. Pour the concrete into the form and fill it to the top. Using the grading 2×4 you cut wider than the form, screed the concrete smooth using a sawing motion back and forth as you pull excess concrete or add it as needed.

Finishing the Concrete

Using a small hand trowel, a margin trowel, a curb trowel and a finishing broom, you can finish the concrete sidewalk from a rough finish until it’s completely smooth using the hand trowel. Use finish broom to drag a scratch surface for grip on the sidewalk. Use the curb trowel to create a finished border up against the forms. Once hard, pull off the forms and use the margin trowel to fill any voids on the side of the sidewalk.

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