How to Lay a Concrete Pad
A basic concrete slab can be used for a patio, entryway or a surface for an HVAC unit to sit upon.
It is strongly recommended to have a pro do this ambitious project. Clear out any debris and weeds from the area. Move soil until the area is mostly level.
The steppers will be a combination of rectangles, each of which will be about 3 feet wide and 4-6 feet long. Cut 2x4s to the correct lengths and build rectangular forms to these dimensions. Move the forms around to determine the best arrangement for the concrete steppers, then stake into place. Make sure to wear safety glasses and use caution when working with a power saw or any other power tool.
With the forms secured, dig down 2 inches below the bottom of the forms and spread a 2-inch layer of 3/4" crushed base rock inside.
To get the right amount of concrete, let the concrete company know the square footage and depth desired and have them help figure out the amount of wet concrete needed. For this job, 4 inches of concrete to top off the 2 inches of base rock was needed. Pour concrete up to the top of the forms and use a board to screed (level) it. Also, tamp the concrete down with a concrete float to release air bubbles, and tap all of the boards to release air pockets along the sides. Smooth out the concrete surface and use an edging tool to create a clear line around the forms. Let the concrete sit for several hours to partially dry.
Once the concrete is mostly dry, apply color hardener on top of the concrete to tint it. To apply, either toss the dry powder on by hand or dust it on with a paintbrush. Several colors can be mixed for a marbled effect. Wear safety glasses, a dust mask and plastic gloves when spreading the color hardener.
While the concrete is still somewhat wet, use a rubber stamp (Image 1) and a tamping tool to stamp a pattern into the concrete. Make sure not to put too much pressure on the damp concrete (Image 2). Once the concrete is stamped, let it dry completely overnight.
After the concrete is completely dry, sweep off any loose color hardener and pressure-wash the concrete. Carefully remove the forms with a hammer or pry bar. Use a paint roller to apply a coat of high-gloss concrete sealer. Let the sealer dry completely.