Pouring A Concrete Patio

Nothing can enhance or enlarge the look of your backyard more than a patio. Patios can be poured in almost any shape and finished in any desirable texture - plain, smooth, pebbled or patterned.

Concrete is the most versatile of all garden paving materials. Finished with plain or patterned textures, concrete complements all home styles.

Making a poured concrete patio requires four basic steps: (1) Preparing a base. (2) Pouring. (3) Finishing. (4) Curing.


A well-built concrete patio begins with a firm soil base, sturdy wood frames, and a setting bed of sand or gravel. If you're planning to add onto an existing slab, expansion joints are recommended to add stability.


When it comes time to grade the soil base, allow 1/4 inch per foot for drainage, keeping in mind that the slope should drain away from your house. Next dig and level your soil base, allowing for the thickness of the concrete slab; 4 inches is standard.


Be sure the wood for your forms is not bowed or else you'll wind up with a crooked patio. Use 2x4's

for the forms and 12” 1x2's for the stakes.

The trick is to use double-headed nails when constructing your forms so you can dismantle your

forms easily.

Make sure you check the corners of the forms with a steel square and all forms with a level for straightness. Lastly, pack the outside forms with soil to avoid concrete from oozing under your forms.


Add 2 inches of sand/gravel to the bed (4-6 inches where ground freezes). Lay the bed after the forms and dividers are in place, then level the bed with a bladed screed.

For added reinforcement, 6 inch square welded steel mesh and expansion joints are two ways to prevent cracking, especially for areas larger than 8 square feet.


When it comes time to pour, determine the concrete requirements by using this simple formula; length x width x height equals cubic feet of concrete to pour. Begin to pour concrete at one end of your forms, while helpers spread it against the forms and into all corners. With a zigzag, sawing motion, screed across the forms to level the concrete using a level 2x4, making sure you edge the concrete along the forms, filling and leveling.


Initial floating smooths down the high spots and fills in any small hollows left in the surface after screeding. Use a bull float for large areas and a darby, a wide hand-held float, for smaller areas.

For a slick, smooth surface, follow with a steel trowel, smoothing all edges and possible high-low spots. Some steel trowels have rough edges and can dig into your wet concrete, so be careful.

For a brush like, rough finish, use a broom. The texture you produce will depend upon the stiffness of the broom's bristles and whether the broom you use is wet or dry.


Curing is a way to keep the concrete from drying too fast and becoming powdery or flaking away. Cure concrete by keeping it damp. Try covering it with straw or burlap and wetting it down, or use plastic sheeting and commercial curing compound. Cure for at least 3 days - longer in cold weather. To be on the safe side, wait a week.

Remember, have plenty of helpers and tools on hand. And wear rubber gloves and boots while you work at all times.