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Curb cuts and approaches from streets
If you live within the city, you will likely only be allowed to pour up to your property line and not be allowed to cut the curb and tie into the street. You will either need to hire a company who is bonded to do this or find out if your city will handle it.

Mark Location
1.) We'll assume the ground is relatively level and you have checked the location for such things as sprinklers, plumbing clean outs and property lines.

2.) We'll setup a temporary string line to get started. Determine where each corner, or beginning and ending point, of the concrete will be placed and make a mark then add 4" out and drive a temporary stake. This will give you room for the stake and form board that will be used to hold your concrete.

3.) Dig a 6" wide trench about 5" deep just inside your string where the forms will eventually be placed.

Set Forms
4.) At a corner, drive a stake 1-1/2" out from the mark you made in step 2 above. Repeat at all corners being sure to allow the 1-1/2" clearance. Move your string to these stakes, setting it so that now your string is 1-1/2" out from where your concrete will lay and at the proper height. In areas where the ground has a sudden dropoff, hold the string next to a level and plumb up from the stake at the low end, have a helper set a stake next to the string where the ground starts to drop. Temporarily tack a small nail at the desired form height to set your string on.

5.) Drive stakes every few feet using the string as a guide. Pick a corner or end and adjust the string on the stake till it is at the required height. Determine the height needed at each corner or end and secure the string at those locations as well.

6.) Lay your form boards into the trench. Temporarily fasten all forms with one nail on each end using the string as a height gauge.

7.) Use a level and check for proper drainage if that is an issue. Use a strait 2x4 and a level to check for drainage from one form to the other. Be sure not to trap water where you don't want it.

8.) Fasten your form to each stake using two #10 duplex nails so they can be easily remove. Then backfill some dirt against the outside of your form for extra support and to help hold in your concrete from flowing out from under your form. It may be necessary to remove a section of the form later to allow for the truck or trailer to pull in, consider this before you fasten your forms or install reinforcement and backfill.

Concrete Thickness
9.) Drive some nails into the top of the forms every few feet down each side, Then using one pair of nails at a time, fasten a string from one side to the other. Dig and remove the earth till you have a minimum of 4" for patios and sidewalks or 5" for driveways. Move the string down to the next pair of nails and continue to remove any high spots in the ground. Larger areas may justify renting a bobcat.

10.) Use the same string and nail procedure above, and fill the area with sand till you have 3" remaining for patios and sidewalks or 4" for driveways. Spread the sand evenly and wet it down good with water. Don't forget to pull the nails from the top of the forms before you go on. A nice tip for leveling the sand is use a long 2x4 that reaches from one form to the other and attach a strip of plywood along its side so that it extend below the 2x4 the proper distance. Using this method instead of the string you simply throw some sand and drag it down till you have a nice even surface.

Reinforcement
11.) For most flatwork in a lot of cities where it is used for projects such as sidewalks and patios, a 6x6 10 gauge welded wire is permissible but in my opinion this is not adequate especially if your pouring a driveway or are needing that type of strength. Instead, lay 3/8" reinforcement bar 18" on center each way, begining and ending 1-1/2" from a form, and wire tie where bars cross each other to form what is called the mat.

12.) It is best to set the mat on chairs every 4x4' so the concrete can surround the steel reinforcement for a stronger result.

13.) Before you pour, check the mat height to be sure it is not to high. Somewhere near center is ideal. Different size chairs are available and you can adjust the height by moving the chair back and forth into the sand.

14.) If using the 6x6 10 gauge welded wire, simply lift it slightly as you pour to allow concrete to go under wire. Don't try to lift a 3/8" rebar mat as it is much to heavy once there is concrete holding it down.

15.) Do not allow a concrete truck or a ucart trailer to roll over the mat, it will bend and you will most likely have to replace that section. If it is necessary to pull a truck or trailer in, have all the material cut and ready to install, then after you pull out, install the mat and forms and finish pouring.

Pouring
Have plenty of help available.

16.) Start at the farthest distance for the concrete truck or Ucart trailer to reach. Pouring concrete slightly wetter will help it to flow and settle in better so check the condition of the load before pouring any onto the ground if your using a concrete truck.

17.) If your using a Ucart trailer all I can say is this, if you drove very far with the load, say ten miles or so, get it out of the trailer ASAP. The farther you drive, the more the water works its way to the top leaving the concrete near the bottom of the load to start setting up.

18.) Dump some concrete near the center between your forms about 4' from the end. Using rakes or tools called comealongs, move the concrete till it is evenly distributed throughout from one form to the other. Use a long 2x4 or 2x6 called a screed and drag across the top of the forms to make the concrete even with the top. Pour more concrete as needed and push into the low areas or drag concrete out as you drag the screed.

19.) When you reach the end of the pour or even as you pour, if your form is over say 10 or 12 inches above the ground you may want to rent and use a tool called a jitterbug. A jitterbug is a concrete tamper to help eliminate air pockets that would otherwise weaken the concrete and could even collapse leaving a hole over time. Next, use a tool called a bull float, which is a large adjustable metal trowel about 3 to 4 feet long with a multi sectional handle. Assemble the float and use it to run across the concrete and back again starting at the beginning of the pour.

20.) Run the float back and forth in one area till all the pits have disappeared. Then move down a few feet and start again. Do this till you reach the end of the pour and if needed start over again. Water can be sprinkled on the surface if necessary to help remove any pits and it is always a good idea to have the truck leave some extra concrete on the ground to use for filling. Once the surface has all the pits and imperfections filled by the bull float your ready to move on.

Finishing
21.) If there are some spots you can't get smooth with just the float (small ridges should be ok if your going to put a broom finish on it) you may need to trowel some with a hand trowel, cut four pieces of 1/2" to 3/4" plywood about 18" square to use to kneel on as you hand trowel these areas.

22.) Then use a tool called an edger and run it around the edge next to the form followed by a tool called a divider to place a crease across the surface of the concrete every 12' to serve as a control joint in case the concrete decides to crack. A long 2x4 or 2x6 to set on the concrete and use as a straight edge to run the divider along will be helpfull. Very many or very long control joints may be easily cut later using a chalk line and a walk behind concrete saw and cut about 1/2" deep.

23.) Now take a wide stiff shop type broom and using the multi section handle from the bull float, gently set the broom down on the far side of the concrete and drag it towards you. While your doing this be careful not to destroy the work you have done with the edger and divider. In order for the concrete edger or broom or concrete divider to work, the concrete must not be too far setup but yet hard enough to support a worker on the knee boards using the divider, or so the broom doesn't groove too deeply, This is why it is crucial to have plenty of help on hand. For example, as two workers pull the screed, one or two workers work the shovels and comealongs to fill the low areas. As you move along one or two workers can begin tamping and/or floating the surface. And follow up using the edger and divider before brooming the top to give it a non slip surface if needed, and if your project is exposed to the outside elements, you WILL need to add a broomed finish.




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