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Concrete is one of the most common materials used in today’s construction world. Its usage, ton for ton, exceeds demands of wood, plastics, steel, and aluminum. Globally, the concrete market is projected to exceed $600 billion in revenue by 2025.
Concrete is an essential element and a vitally important aspect used in many residential homes, shopping centers, apartments, and commercial buildings. It solidifies and hardens after mixing with water and placement due to a chemical process known as hydration. It binds and holds other building materials together. It is a substance extensively used in the construction process and is made by mixing aggregate, cement, small stones, sand, gravel, and water. All of these elements bond together to create a stone-like material.
Concrete walkways, patios, and patio extensions are some of the most common projects requested for residential communities and establishing a larger surface area is mandatory for room to entertain and relax.
First, use a landscaping marker to create an outline showing the perimeter of the concrete extension or walkway design. Next, excavate down 8”-9” to allow space for the crushed gravel base and surrounding concrete pour. Custom cut 2×4” or 2×6” wood forms and hammer down wood stakes at the corners and every 2’ to hold the forms in place of the extension or walkway area.
Using a hand tamper, or a similar piece of equipment such as a heavy-duty plate compactor, compact the soil and gravel in the planned extension or walkway area. Be sure to occasionally check the grade of dirt with a leveler or your extension could turn out uneven upon completion.
Now, it’s time to pour the concrete into the prepared extension or walkway area allowing the concrete mix to exceed the concrete forms by 2” – 3”. After pouring, drag a 2×4” piece of wood across the width of the form. This will eliminate any excess concrete as well as show you areas where you need to provide additional concrete. It is also recommended that you forcefully “stab” the concrete with a shovel causing vibrations that will settle the concrete and assist it with compaction. Continue doing both until you feel that the slab is secure.
Using trowels smooth over the surface of the form until it produces a professional look. If you prefer a more textured, slip-resistant surface, run a stiff bristled broom lightly across the surface creating a “broom finish”. After approximately 48 hours, the wood forms may be removed. Then simply wait an extra couple of days and the slab will be strong enough to be subjected to stress, and you can appreciate a long-lasting patio extension or walkway.
Footings are an important part of foundation construction. They are traditionally made of concrete with rebar reinforcement that has been poured into an excavated trench. The main purpose of concrete footings is to support the building structure and prevent settling.
Footings are extremely important in local areas with troublesome soils. The overall width and depth of the footing will be relative to the size of the structure being supported. A taller and larger wall would require a much wider and deeper concrete foundation compared to a wall of smaller proportions.
Prior to excavating, it’s crucial to call and notify the local Dig safe authorities ensuring the area underground is free and clear of any unseen cable, electrical, plumbing, or utility lines. A concrete footing is created in a similar manner as the patio extension and walkway listed above and is recommended to be performed by a highly skilled concrete professional. Every concrete structure is unique in that the individual requirements will slightly differ on a case by case basis.
Concrete patios, walkways, and driveways may shift and settle over time causing cracking along the surface. Small cracks less than 1⁄4” may be simply filled with concrete sealants or 2 part epoxy. Corners along concrete foundations are commonly known for breaking off and should be repaired with a combination of concrete and bonding agent.
The bonding agent allows for 2 separate concrete surfaces to permanently bond together with greater adhesion while preventing future breakage. Now, cracking areas along concrete where major sections have been severely separated and fallen out of alignment should be completely removed and replaced. We recommend cutting out, breaking up, and removing the damaged section of concrete.
Next, you would simply set up wood forms if necessary and layout the internal rebar support. Finally, pour the concrete mix in place of the repair area and apply the final steps listed above discussing the process for performing the concrete extension.
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