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How to Replace a Concrete Walkway

Ask This Old House mason Mark McCullough replaces a concrete walkway with brick pavers.

Steps for Replacing a Concrete Walkway:

  1. Look for a weak point in the concrete, such as the control joints or a crack in the walkway, and try to pry up the concrete pad using the pickax as leverage. If there are no weak points, hit the pad with a sledgehammer until a crack forms.
  2. With the concrete pad loose, smash it with the sledgehammer until it breaks into manageable pieces.
  3. Remove the concrete pieces and dispose of them in the disposable dumpster.
  4. Clean out the base of the walkway with a rake and then compact it with a hand tamper.
  5. Pour a layer of gravel on top of the walkway and spread it out with the rake.
  6. Compact the gravel with the hand tamper.
  7. Pour a layer of stone dust on top of the gravel and spread that with the rake as well.
  8. Screed the stone dust level with a scrap piece of lumber. Use a trowel and additional stone dust to fill in low spots as you screed.
  9. To make the screed process easier, here’s a trick: take the lumber and notch out on each end the thickness of one of the bricks. Then, place the two notched edges on the edges of the walkway. This will ensure the level of the stone dust is the perfect height to receive the bricks.
  10. Compact the screeded stone dust with the tamper.
  11. Place the bricks on the walkway in the desired pattern. In the video, Mark installs the walkway in a running bond pattern.
  12. Once the bricks are in the correct position, hammer them down with a rubber mallet. Use a level to ensure the bricks line up and the walkway stays flat.
  13. Install some plastic edging on both sides of the walkway to ensure the bricks stay in place.
  14. Add a final layer of stone dust over the walkway and brush it into the joints with a push brush.
  15. Wash off the walkway. Mark prefers to wait for a rainstorm to more naturally wash in the stone dust joints.
  16. Add additional layers of stone dust as necessary and wash off the walkway until the joints in the bricks are completely filled and packed down with stone dust.

Resources:

Depending on the size of the walkway, Mark suggests that it’s easier to break apart the concrete using a pickax and a sledgehammer. For larger walkways, it’s possible to also rent a jackhammer from most home centers.

To dispose of the broken-up concrete, Mark used Bagster. These can be purchased at home centers, and then the pickups are scheduled online at their website. The website also includes guidelines for what can be thrown away in the dumpster and where it needs to be placed in order for pickup.

The clay bricks Mark installed on the walkway are City Hall Pavers, which can be found, alongside the other masonry materials used to install the walkway, at most brick yards.

The rest of the tools used for the installation, including the level, mallet, and plastic edging, can all be found at home centers.

Expert assistance with this project was provided by MJM Masonry.


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