2 Valuable Concrete Installation Tips

31 October 2016
 Categories: , Blog

Installing a new concrete sidewalk is a simple enough improvement that many intrepid homeowners elect to take on the task themselves. But while the fundamentals may be easy enough to master, it's important to arm yourself with some more subtle tips as well. If you are planning to upgrade your property with a new concrete sidewalk, read on. This article will provide two helpful tips to guide you.

Don't wait too long to cut your control joints.

The shape of your sidewalk will be dictated by the reinforced wooden forms installed along its boundary. Once you've poured the concrete into the forms, it will form a long unbroken whole. If you leave it this way, however, you will likely end up with scores of unwanted cracks forming as the concrete cures and you may need to look into concrete crack testing materials.

To prevent this from happening, you're going to want to make a series of cuts known as control joints. When regularly spaced along the length of the sidewalk, these joints will allow the curing concrete to shrink without causing erratic cracks. The traditional method of installing control joints is to wait one full day for the concrete to cure and then use a circular saw equipped with a special blade to cut the partially hardened concrete.

For relative amateurs, this method is often more trouble--and more mess--than it is worth. A much easier solution is to install the control joints soon after pouring, while your concrete remains wet. Tool-wise, you will need either a metal straightedge or a 2x4, as well as a concrete groover. The straightedge is used to provide a rigid marker along which the groover can be pulled, thus cutting a control joint in the surface of the concrete.

Use a broom to give your sidewalk traction.

The traditional tool used to surface indoor concrete is a metal trowel. This helps ensure a smooth, even finish. But where an outdoor sidewalk is concerned, this simply isn't the best way to go. That's because a trowel finish won't give the concrete enough traction to prevent slips and falls--especially during the icy winter months.

A push broom makes a much better finishing tool. Not only will this give the surface a bit more grip, but the scored lines also act to mask any imperfections in the concrete. If your sidewalk is installed on a slope--even a relatively minor one--it's important that the broom strokes be oriented in a direction parallel to the slope. The resulting grooves will help to drain water, rather than allowing it to pool up on the surface.