Building a Concrete Patio

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A concrete patio can be an attractive part of the landscape, provided it is properly decorated after it is placed. It is also a convenient landscape element, as the patio is usually square and is easy to mow around. Additionally, it is an excellent place to enjoy outdoor cooking and entertaining. Concrete is durable and it can withstand a great deal of wear and tear. Building a concrete patio is something that you can do on your own in about three days. With a little investment of time, you can save money by installing your patio yourself, rather than paying someone else to do it.

The first thing to do, of course, is plan your patio. You need to figure out how big you want the patio, and mark off the area. Additionally, you need to make sure you have all of the necessary tools. 50 square feet is a fairly common size patio, and for that (at about six inches thick) you need 25 bags of pre-mixed concrete. Make sure that you get the pre-mixed for best results and easiest construction. You will also need to make sure you have concrete tools and an automatic concrete mixer. If you do not wish to purchase these tools, it is possible to rent them from a home improvement or hardware store.

Next, you need to excavate the area with a garden shovel. The best thing to do is excavate six inches deep. This is so that you have a two-inch layer of gravel beneath four inches of concrete. This is especially important in the north, where the freezing and thawing cycle can cause drainage problems. The gravel allows for adequate drainage, and that prevents cracking due to frozen water trapped beneath the patio.

After you have excavated your patio area, you need to build a form to hold the gravel and concrete. This form is usually made from wood. It acts as a frame of sorts to keep the gravel and concrete in place, instead of spreading beyond the confines of your patio. The form can be constructed from wood or strong plastic or rubber, and should be sunk into the ground lining the entire border of the patio area. If you want the patio flush with the ground, the top of the form should be level with the surrounding lawn. After that is done, put in the gravel. Make sure you tamp it down firmly to avoid shifting later on. Two-inch high flat pieces of rock should be installed as well, on top of the gravel, to act as supports for rebar reinforcing (the rebar will be built in the middle of the four inch slab of concrete