10 Things You Must Know About Sidewalks

Use these tips to get your sidewalk closer to perfect.

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Take your time pulling your forms.

Tip #1

After you broom-finish the surface, wait 24 hours to remove the forms. The surface needs to set properly, but don't leave them on too long, as you won't be able to make repairs after they've been removed.

Tip #2

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Tip 2: Sweep yourself a high-quality finish.

For sidewalk construction, finish the surface using a stiff broom. The texture created by the broom's bristles will help prevent the slippage that could occur on a smooth surface.

Tip #3

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Tip 3: Screed out the guesswork.

If you're not experienced with concrete, you may want to run a 2-by-4 across the top of the form to level it off. Use a wood screed, simply a piece of 2-by-4 that rests across the top of the form, wiggling it so it levels and fills the form perfectly.

Tip #4

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Tip 4: The concrete truck driver waits for no one. 

The concrete truck driver will make his delivery whether you like it or not, and he won't take back the delivery, so be prepared to handle the project when he arrives. Whether it's solidified or moist, that concrete is yours.

Tip #5

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The sidewalk will constantly be subjected to the elements, and with that comes expansion and contraction. To prevent cracking, give the sidewalk room to breathe with expansion joints.

Tip #6

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Tip 6: Reinforce with rebar. 

Reinforced concrete contains wire mesh or rebar inside; this extends the life of the concrete. Adding steel would make it last even longer.

Tip #7

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Tip 7: Keep your forms in perfect form.

Leveling out the concrete is very important, so construct a level form before pouring to create an even shape.

Tip #8

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Tip 8: Pour gravel at the base of the sidewalk.

Concrete is very porous; without proper drainage, the life span of concrete will be greatly reduced. If there is poor drainage in the ground, you'll need to provide a gravel base. Water will drain into the gravel rather than sit underneath the concrete.

Tip #9

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Tip 9: Sink the roots in sand. 

To prevent tree roots from destroying a paved surface, you should sink its roots in sand when you plant it. If a root has already damaged the surface, excavate the root and lower it without disturbing its growth so it doesn't come up again. To prevent further cracking from tree expansion, give the tree some room to grow by adding sand to the empty space around the root.

Tip #10

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Tip 10: Shelve the sledge and rent a jackhammer. 

Before you can make a new sidewalk, you'll have to remove the old one. To do this, you'll need a sledgehammer, a wheelbarrow and a place to take the concrete. Renting a small power hammer will make the job much quicker.

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