How to Prepare a Concrete Patio Site


Careful planning and site preparation takes a little time; however, this is crucial for a long-lasting patio. A cement patio provides an additional living space and a great place to entertain and enjoy cookouts, so this time is well spent. A confident do-it-yourself homeowner can prepare the site and have the cement poured one weekend, and enjoy a cookout the following weekend.

Things You'll Need

  • Graph paper
  • Tape measure
  • Stakes
  • String
  • Shovel
  • Tamper
  • Wood forms (2-by-6 lumber)
  • Gravel
  • PVC pipe (optional)
  • 2-inch-high flat rocks
  • Steel reinforcing rods
  • Wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Check with your local or state building department to see if you need a building permit and if there are any special code or zoning requirements. If you have a homeowner's association, also check with them to get permission to build the patio and to see if there are any design restrictions.

  • Sketch out the design of the patio using graph paper. Indicate the slab's shape, size and its orientation to the house and sun.

  • Measure and stake out the location of the patio. Place a stake at each corner for a square or rectangular patio or every few feet for a circular or free-form patio. Attach a string between the stakes to mark the perimeter of the patio.

  • Dig out the area to a depth of 6 inches. Use the stakes and string as a guideline for the edges. Remove all grass, topsoil and roots. Keep the sides of the edges as straight as possible. Use a tamper to compact the dirt.

  • Build a wood form with 2- by 6-inch lumber and position it around the perimeter. This acts as a frame and holds the gravel and cement in place while curing.

  • Fill the area with 2 inches of gravel. Use a tamper to compact the gravel. If you plan to have electrical receptacles in your patio, install a PVC pipe in the base to run the wires.

  • Place several 2-inch high flat rocks on top of the gravel. These will support the steel reinforcing rods. You want the rods to lay in the middle of the cement with 2 inches of cement below and above the rods. This provides additional support for the slab and helps to keep it from shifting or cracking.

  • Position the rods, in a grid pattern, every 2 feet from the front to the back and from the left to the right of the area. Cut small sections of wire and tie the rods together at the places where they intersect. The site is now ready to have the cement poured.

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