How to build a concrete patio base

Written by tami parrington
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How to build a concrete patio base
Some people use contractors to pour their concrete. (

Concrete makes a terrific base for patios. It's good-looking and resilient to damage from weather and wear and tear. A concrete pad is relatively simple to install by just one or two people. Further, it won't shift around like patio bricks or pavers or rot like wood; it adds long-term value to your home as well as giving you a great place to entertain friends and family.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Shovel
  • 5 cm x 10 cm (2 x 4 inch) wood for framework
  • Wood stakes
  • Level
  • Bucket, wheelbarrow, or concrete mixer
  • Mesh or rebar (optional)
  • Trowel
  • Hose with spray nozzle
  • Concrete sealer (optional)

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  1. 1

    Plan your patio well. Once you pour your concrete pad it is permanent. Check your local planning office for restrictions or requirements. Get a planning consent for your project.

  2. 2

    Mark the perimeter of your patio and dig out the area at least 30 cm (1 foot) deep with a shovel; allow an extra 10 cm (4 inches) around all sides for bracing that will be removed once the slab is finished.

  3. 3

    Plant 5 cm x 10 cm (2 x 4 inches) wood around the perimeter. Build your frame up to ground level using as many beams as needed to reach that level. Use wood stakes to secure the framework. Use a level to ensure that your frame is level so the top of your concrete pad will be even.

  4. 4

    Shovel gravel into the base of your patio at least 20 cm (8 inches) thick. Smooth it out with a rake for a level surface.

  5. 5

    Mix concrete according to the directions on the bag. For smaller projects the concrete can be mixed in a large bucket or wheelbarrow. For larger projects a mixer is a worthwhile investment.

  6. 6

    Pour concrete at least 10 cm (4 inches) thick. The thicker your pad the more stable it will be but for light foot traffic, 10 cm (4 inches) is a minimum. Laying a mesh or rebar inside the concrete as you pour helps strengthen large patio pads. In order to lay a mesh strengthener pour half the concrete, lay the mesh on top of that layer and then pour the remaining concrete over the mesh. Use a level to make sure the surface of your concrete is even.

  7. 7

    Smooth the top of the concrete with a trowel or the edge of a beam.

  8. 8

    Let concrete dry completely before walking on it. To prevent cracking or buckling while drying, keep the surface of the concrete misted while it dries. Use a hose nozzle set on fine mist to lightly wet the surface at least every six hours during the drying period.

  9. 9

    Remove framework. Back-fill the edges of the ditch with dirt.

Tips and warnings

  • Don't pour concrete on an extremely hot day over 26.7 degrees C (80 F) for the best results. Temperatures over 26.7 degrees C (80 F) will dry the concrete too quickly and can cause cracks or buckling.
  • To keep your concrete pad looking its best and prevent stains, seal it with a concrete sealer after it has set for the appropriate amount of time.
  • If you desire a concrete pad that is not the traditional concrete colour, you can add concrete colour to the mixture before you pour it to give it a unique appearance. If you add colour to your concrete mix, it is important to mix all of the concrete you will be using at once to ensure a uniform colour throughout the project.

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