How to form a concrete slab: create a backyard patio, a garden walkway, or the foundation and floor for a small outbuilding.
A concrete patio or walkway can add beauty and usability to your garden. And with the new colors and stamping patterns, you can pour a concrete slab that blends beautifully with your garden’s design.
Pouring a concrete slab is a fairly straight-forward project. Build a form, pour the concrete, level it, and let it cure. But, as always, there are fine points that must be understood in order to create a concrete slab that will last, and look the way you want it to.
How to form a concrete slab
The best way to learn how to form a concrete slab is to work beside someone who has experience – especially if your skilled worker is willing to help you out with your own project. The second best way to learn is to find a good book. The ones we’ve listed above include the instructions for building forms and pouring your concrete slab, and they also offer great design ideas.
Here are the basics of pouring a concrete slab:
1. Remove all vegetation in the area, and remove the topsoil down a few inches.
2. Spread gravel over the area to act as a base for your concrete slab.
3. Build a form, using 2×4’s or plywood. Pound in stakes on the outside of your form, to prevent the poured concrete from pushing the form apart. Pound your stakes in lower than the form, so the top of the form can be used to level the poured concrete.
4. Place concrete reinforcing wire above the gravel inside the form. You will need to raise it above the gravel several inches.
5. Pour the concrete inside the form, and level it.
6. Allow it to cure.
If you’re building a large patio, building on a slope, or if you are using your concrete slab under a small building, you will want to review your local building codes for specifications. It’s also a good idea to find a good book on the subject, and to have an experienced helper. If you plan to buy pre-mixed concrete, make sure you have everything ready when they’re scheduled to arrive – the truck can’t wait for you to build your forms.
Your local rental store should have concrete mixers available, if you choose to mix the concrete yourself.