Are you thinking about installing your own concrete patio? Many homeowners do with mixed results. This article is not a step-by-step how-to guide, but rather provides some pros and cons and considerations if you are trying to decide if you want to tackle this job yourself or hire a professional.
If you don’t find the information you are looking for here, please feel free to give Precision Concrete a call and one of our experts will be happy to talk to you about your project. 517-812-5896
Do you have help?
The two biggest costs to any construction project are labor and materials. If you do it yourself there is an obvious saving on the labor side of the equation. But keep in mind that the contractor would show up with a crew. So to save all of the labor costs you will need at least 2-3 reliable helpers who aren’t afraid to get a little dirty.
It will be a bonus if you can find people to help who have experience with concrete placement and finishing.
Do you have the right tools?
Concrete is typically something the average homeowner doesn’t do very often. Chances are you don’t already own all the tools necessary to do the job. You will have to either buy them, rent them, or borrow them. The time and effort it takes to procure all the necessary tools will need to be factored into your project timeline. Once the concrete is mixed, the job needs to be finished. You will not have time to go to the store multiple times to get the right tools in the middle of the project.
The importance of proper curing cannot be overstated. It can literally make or break a concrete project.
Project Elements That Need to Be Determined
As you can imagine, installing your own concrete patio is not just simply marking the spot and pouring the concrete. A lot more planning is involved. Here is a list of considerations:
- Sod. Is there sod to strip? Can it be left on-site or does it need to be hauled off?
- Dirt. Is there dirt to be excavated after the sod is removed? Is it clay? Does it need to be hauled away?
- Base material. Is fill sand good enough, or should you go with crushed concrete or 21AA limestone?
- Compaction. Do you rent a plate compactor, or do you buy a hand tamper and beat it down? Here is a helpful hint; If you add moisture you can get better compaction, especially with the limestone.
- Dowels. Are you going up against the house where you might want to pin it to the wall to avoid settling?
- Forms. You will need to create a form. For straight lines use 2 x 4s, for any radius use OSB-backed lap siding or Masonite.
- Weather. Determining the optimal time of day and the temperature is crucial.
- How much concrete? Do you need to rent a concrete buggy? A wheelbarrow works, but it is slow and very exhausting.
- Sealing. Once your concrete is laid and cured you will want to properly seal it to protect it and help it last as long as possible. Please visit our Concrete Sealer FAQ page for more information.
The concrete temperature at the time of placement should be no more than 70 C. If higher temperatures occur, there is a significant risk of cracks.
Additional Considerations for Installing a Concrete Patio
You have one chance to get it right. From the minute that water is introduced into that mix at the batch plant, you are on a timer. On warm days concrete sets faster.
Fixing Mistakes. It is not easy to fix or replace a botched job. Even experienced contractors have stories about projects that did not go smoothly.
Additional Resources. One thing in favor of a homeowner installing a concrete patio is the amount of good information available on the internet. The videos put out by contractors and product suppliers are excellent tools that can give a great deal of insight. There are also many valuable resources out there including trade associations such as:
As concrete contractors, we are happy to talk to anyone who may have questions or concerns about any concrete project. Please think of us as a concrete resource always available to you. We even have specialized tools such as textured stamps, coloration products, and a range of sealers.
We have no way to know your past experience or current skill level that would contribute to a successful do-it-yourself project. However, if you are on the fence about doing it yourself or you know for sure you want to hire a contractor, we can provide you a free quote. You might realize it could save you money in the long run. It will definitely save you time.
They say you can’t learn to ride a bike at a seminar. There is always a learning curve and maybe we could help you with that. Frank Lloyd Wright once claimed that while doctors could simply bury their mistakes, all the architect can do is advise the client to plant ivy. You don’t’ want to have to cover up your patio with ivy.