A great look for any backyard is a concrete patio, which is suitable for all kinds of furniture and activities. Lower maintenance than a deck and often less expensive, a concrete patio is perfect for creating a new living space outdoors. This is even a project you can do yourself, so check out these steps and get the most out of your backyard.
Steps for Installing a Patio
Layout the patio shape
Use a rope or hose to create an outline of the patio shape you desire. While a rectangle is what most people do, feel free to make yours a sweet looking rhombus or whatever. Then, drive stakes into the ground at each corner, about one foot beyond the edge. Tie mason’s string at least 6 inches above the ground between pairs of opposing stakes, and square out the area using the 3-4-5 triangle method. Adjust the stakes as needed to get perfect squares (or not squares).
Excavate the area
The mason string outlining the sides of the patio running away from the house now needs to be sloped at ⅛ inch per foot to keep water from pooling on the patio surface. Once the strings are adjusted, it is time to excavate the area and about 6 inches beyond it (to make room for the concrete frame). The dirt should be excavated to a depth of 8 inches.
Once the excavation is completed, fill the area with 5 inches of gravel to provide a stable foundation. Whatever you do, don’t try to fill it with marbles. Trust us, that won’t work. Then compact the gravel until it is only 4 inches deep. Make sure the gravel is level from side-to-side and slopes end-to-end like the mason’s string.
Create a frame for the concrete
Use 2x4s to create a wooden frame for the concrete on the gravel. The interior dimensions of the form should equal the total size of the project area, so position the wood’s interior edge directly beneath the mason’s string. Then drive wood stakes around the outside of the form every 2 feet, allowing the tops to extend 3 ½ inches above the ground. Once completed screw the stakes to the boards and secure the boards to one another.
Pour the concrete
Now it’s time to pour the concrete! Coat the frame with vegetable oil or a commercial release agent so the concrete won’t stick to it. Mix your concrete in a rented concrete mixer (hint hint), then transfer the mix into a wheelbarrow and pour the concrete in evenly placed mounds. Distribute the concrete throughout the frame and repeat this process until it is filled to the top. Then level out the concrete using a screed board, which can be a simple 2×4.
Let it cure
The concrete should then cure until the “bleed water” (moisture that rises to the surface after screeding) disappears. You’ll need to smooth the surface, then let the bleed water disappear again. This is also a time when you can add control joints that allow for seasonal expansion and contraction of concrete. Although if you don’t want to do that, you can take this time to read a short story or practice your origami. You can also choose to go over the top of the concrete with a stiff-bristled broom to add slip resistance. Then, you can choose to apply a commercial cure and seal or water-cure the concrete.
Renting the Right Tools
Putting in a concrete patio is a big project, and it requires a lot of powerful tools. A patio should last you for many years, so there is no need to purchase these tools yourself. Instead, find a reliable place to rent this equipment from. This way, you know your tools will work and you don’t waste money investing in items you’re unlikely to use again. You can find an excavator and electric or gas-powered concrete mixers at Northside Tool Rental if you’re in the Atlanta area.
No matter the project, Northside Tool Rental has the equipment you need to get the job done right. Whether you’re an experienced professional or a brand new homeowner beginning your very first DIY project, you can find everything you need to install a concrete patio. We have been making sure the right tools get in the hands of contractors and homeowners since 1953. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you!