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A concrete patio, good idea?

I need to replace a wood patio that is becoming a safety concern and don't have a lot of money to do it. I like low maintenance, able to withstand high traffic and easy to clean off. We have two small children that like to play out there, chickens, and trees that drop stuff year round.
I would love pavers or some type of stone, but they are expensive and we live in an area with very sandy soil so patios I have seen don't seem to settle well over time here.
I have come to think that a concrete slab (while not aesthetically the best) would be best for us. But I wanted to ask if there is anything I haven't thought of before we pour a large area of concrete that would be difficult to remove.
I have some smallish river stone that I was going to use to set in the concrete around the edges to give it some aesthetic appeal. Not sure if that is a good idea either.

Re: A concrete patio, good idea?

Concrete pours need to be done all at the same time, not bag by mixed bag.

How were you fixin' to pour the area?

How large an area we talkin about?

A. Spruce
Re: A concrete patio, good idea?

You don't have to just have plain old concrete, you can have a pattern stamped and stained into it, giving it some life and appeal. You can also form patterns and use different colors of concrete to make a mosaic of sorts.

I'm not a big fan of rocks as borders or as ground cover, they're just not aesthetic and they're a real pain in the patootie to keep weeded and cleaned.

Re: A concrete patio, good idea?

Masonry is your best choice.

Concrete, in any of the mentioned styles, is a good choice.

There is another choice, since you mentioned that: you want something that you could move and something for less money: red or used bricks in sand. With bricks you could lay them yourself - and save. And there are a few patterns to make them really attractive.

What's important with bricks is the prep work, to assure smooth surface and the edging to stop bricks from travelling.

Re: A concrete patio, good idea?

Thanks for the replies.
It is a large area, maybe 200 sq feet along the side of the house, in kindof an L shape. I was planing on having a professional pour it. Adds to the cost, but I don't think we can do such a large area ourself. I like stamped patios I have seen but heard that they require more maintenance. Yearly sealing that is hard to do yourself?
I like the brick idea too. Thanks! I will look into that.

Re: A concrete patio, good idea?

Concrete slabs in deep freeze, cold climates have their own set of problems.They are subject to frost heaving and cracking. A good gravel base with drainage underneath is critical if such problems are to be avoided.

Re: A concrete patio, good idea?

It depends on the look you want and how much time you have for maintenance.. I built a walkway of handmade concrete stone using a sturdy rubber pattern I bought from Ace for $18. I sprinkled and pressed gravel into the pieces while still wet (you can add color too or leave them plain). EZ instructions on the pkg. I like it's EZ to mow grass that grows in the mosaic "rocks" or hardy groundcover can be planted between them or use sand. Cure time is about 3 days to not crack if a man steps on them. You don't have to worry about frost heave and kids playing may not skin their knees as on a concrete slab. Mine ties right in with my stone house. Good luck & be careful in this heat!

Re: A concrete patio, good idea?

Sandy soil is always going to be a problem, even with concrete. If it is not prepped correctly, it will settle and the concrete will crack.

It does not have to be poured all at once, but if you DIY, you will want to borrow/rent or buy a power mixer. You can make a grid of treated or Redwood (expensive) 2x4 lumber and pour squares, one at a time. If you use treated, it has to be rated for ground contact.

If you want to go really cheap and DYI, you could contact the public works department of your municipality to see if they have a place where you can pick up slabs of broken up sidewalk and make a patio out of this. That was done on a segment of TOH in LA. It actually turned out pretty good. The second best part of this, first being cheap, is that if it settles, you can pull up the slabs and put more dirt/sand/gravel under them to level them again.


A. Spruce
Re: A concrete patio, good idea?
keith3267 wrote:

You can make a grid of treated or Redwood (expensive) 2x4 lumber and pour squares, one at a time. If you use treated, it has to be rated for ground contact.

To clarify this, you need to use redwood or treated lumber IF the lumber will remain part of the finished patio. You don't have to have anything in between separate sections of concrete if you don't want to. For forms that will be removed afterward you can use any inexpensive lumber for the job, and even masonite for bending radius'.

It will add complexity to the job, but if you're going to pour separate segments of cement that will be touching each other, I would recommend pinning them together with rebar to keep their surfaces always flush, otherwise with the heaving the separate segments will lift and fall separately.

How you do the concrete will depend on what you have available to you. The easiest thing is to order a truck, either a mixer that hauls from a plant, or a batch truck that mixes on site. Both have advantages and disadvantages that we can discuss further if this is ultimately what you decide to do.

If you do not live far from a U-cart concrete supplier, then you can bring in your own, provided you've got a vehicle that can pull the trailer.

Lastly, you can either rent/buy a mixer and then either buy the raw materials to mix your own or buy bagged redimix. Be warned, more than a few bags of redimix will be exorbitantly expensive, easily twice that of ordering a truck. Mixing from raw materials isn't a bad alternative, it will keep your costs down and allow you the flexibility to pour as much or little at a time as you like.

Again, with all this, once you decide what it is that you want to do, we can give you further direction on what you'll need and how to go about it.

Re: A concrete patio, good idea?

A. Spruce has made some excellent suggestions. I recall my dad making a large concrete patio from Redwood 2x4 left in place. This was about 50 years ago and I think he used 6x6 concrete mesh under it and poured 4x4 squares. He had a mixer and did this from raw materials, I'm not sure redimix bags were even on the market then. But we had hard clay soil.

For her sandy soil, I was thinking of not connecting the squares so they could be "adjusted" as needed. She might want to keep the size of the squares down to about 2x2 or smaller. I like tfrenos idea as well.

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