Home Tips: Why You Don't Want to Pour Your Patio Yourself

[fa icon="calendar"] February 15, 2017 / by Home Services Expert

concrete patio being pouredEven infrequent visitors to the Experts in Your Home blog know that we're huge supporters of DIY projects and especially do-it-yourselfers. In fact, most of the home tips our team members write about are crafted with the “weekend warrior” in mind.

With spring and the return of consistently warm weather on the minds of many of our readers, it's natural that a new concrete patio looms at the top of their wish list. But like advanced electrical, plumbing and heating and air conditioning projects, this is one project that should be shuffled from the DIY column to the Experts' column – unless, of course, you once installed concrete patios for a living.

The reason? Pouring a concrete patio is a highly specialized project that requires a great deal of patience, skill and precision. And unlike many home improvement projects, in which you can begin anew if things go awry, concrete is a particularly unforgiving force. Plus, it can make a mess of epic proportions – the likes of which you have to move fast to mitigate.

The Experts would never want to underestimate your skill and determination. But before you go out and buy bags and bags of concrete, consider what's involved in pouring a concrete patio. Then ask yourself some pointed questions designed to reveal whether you're really up to this heavy-duty job.

First, Gather Your Materials

You will need a variety of tools, some of which you may already have on hand. They include:

  • Acrylic cure and seal
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Circular saw
  • Concrete finishing tools
  • Concrete mix
  • Drill
  • Gravel
  • Hand maul
  • Hand tamper
  • Line level
  • Lumber
  • Mason’s string
  • Paintbrush
  • Rope
  • Shovel
  • Screws
  • Sod cutter
  • Spade
  • Stiff-bristled broom
  • Straightedge level
  • Tape measure
  • Wheelbarrow

The sheer length of this list ought to be your first tip that you need more than time, skill and patience to properly pour a concrete patio. You need to remain organized, too, as you proceed through four steps, each of which is abbreviated here.

Step 1: Prepare the Patio Site

  • Measure the slope of the patio
  • Dig a test hole
  • Pour a compactible gravel subbase, which will serve as the patio's foundation

Step 2: Lay Out and Excavate the Patio

  • Outline the patio with rope and stakes
  • Connect the stakes with mason's string
  • Adjust the stakes and level the strings
  • Create the proper slope to direct water runoff
  • Begin the excavation work by removing sod
  • Lay a subbase

Step 3: Build and Install Patio Forms

  • Cut lumber to create a frame for the patio
  • Position the boards so that they lay directly below the strings and level them
  • Drive screws through the stakes

Step 4: Pour and Finish the Patio

  • Install a reinforcement, if necessary
  • Mix and pour the concrete
  • Level and remove excess concrete
  • Float the surface so that it is smooth and skid-resistant
  • Treat with an acrylic cure and seal

Ask Yourself these Questions when Considering Pouring Your Own Patio:

Knowing that each of the steps can involve several other steps, too, it's fair to ask yourself:

  • Do I understand these steps, from start to finish?
  • Do I know how to execute them?
  • Do I know what could go wrong as I proceed through these steps?
  • Am I capable of mitigating problems, both foreseen and unforeseen?
  • Do I have the time and patience to install a patio?
  • Do I enjoy this type of work?

Let Experts In Your Home Pour Your Concrete Patio

In contrast to other household tasks you perform once or week, once a month or even once a year, pouring a patio is probably something you will do only once or twice in a lifetime. The Experts pour concrete patios regularly, so one of the best home tips we can offer is to encourage you to place the execution of this complex project in the hands of Experts in Your Home. By all means: pull up a chair and watch our every move. But some projects – and pouring a concrete patio is one of them – simply do not have “weekend warrior” written all over them.

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