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Old 04-11-2010, 03:32 AM   #1
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ALL -
I'm part-way into prepping to lay concrete for a backyard porch. it will be 4" thick. part is in the middle of existing concrete porch and the other part will be an extension. i've attached a photo (in the middle, is the 9'x9', portion of old porch to be replaced. And, to the left, towards the porch uprights, will be the new extension of ~4-6'x25').

Is there a video for beginners i can watch so i get the jist of what i'll be doing? youtube has many, but they seem to be partial jobs or teasers (to lure into paid advice) or other application that is different and so doesn't help.

in our area, we've relatively hard pullman clay loam soil and it packs hard. but i'll be digging out about 3-5" and will backfill much, especially in the area where the porch is being replaced (a drain line was replaced there six months ago). i've heard sand, but i'm seeing videos with people using a ground compactor. and that is $ to rent. can i just fill it in with soil and top-off with sand? there is a lot of loose rock where the sewer drain line was replaced. should this loose rock with lots of void be removed? backfill with soil and hose down with water?

it might be best if an experienced person let me know if my ideas are right. then, i'll be confident to begin. 1.) Stake out area to be dug. 2.) dig out about 4" of ground in this area. 3.) tie "leveled" string around stakes even with current porch portions? 4.) nail up the "forms," using 2"x4" boards? 6.) measure all areas to be filled with cement. backfill with soil and then water down to pack? 7.) Top off with sand? 8.) put a layer of metal mesh in. 9.) pour cement leveling with a scoop shovel as it enters and leveling by sliding a straight 2"x4" ontop of "forms." 10.) smooth with the smoothing tools we found from days long ago? will this plan provide a smooth, strong cement porch? It will just be the two of us and neither of us have experience in laying this type of cement. just animal barn pens and such with the help of many others
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Last edited by rosco; 04-11-2010 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 04-11-2010, 12:34 PM   #2
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Rosco,
What area of country are you in? Weather conditions (freeze/thaw) might help with folks suggesting how deep your base needs to be to prevent heaving.
Concrete is a lot of work and unless someone knows how to finish it (and when) it could end up pretty ugly. Also, it is heavy. How will you get the concrete to the job site? Right from the truck or wheelbarrows?
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Old 04-11-2010, 08:02 PM   #3
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Rosco,
What area of country are you in? Weather conditions (freeze/thaw) might help with folks suggesting how deep your base needs to be to prevent heaving.
Concrete is a lot of work and unless someone knows how to finish it (and when) it could end up pretty ugly. Also, it is heavy. How will you get the concrete to the job site? Right from the truck or wheelbarrows?
Bob

Bob & All -
we are near Amarillo, TX.

I'm thinking trucked in then wheel barrow ~50' to site, by myself. i'd plan it out with the cement company. delivery is $ though. i've thought to go to "the boulevard" and grab a day-laborer to help me.
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Old 04-11-2010, 08:22 PM   #4
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This may sound absurd to you, but there is more wisdom in this suggestion than I can even begin to tell you.

Go find someone who does concrete, and volunteer your free help on at least five or six jobs of theirs.

Work hard for them, and ask that they try to show you some things along the way. It will blow your mind just what a difficult scenario you are setting up for yourself as you have outlined it. Concrete work is almost impossible without someone to show you, first hand, how certain steps are accomplished.
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Old 04-11-2010, 08:33 PM   #5
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I've done enough concrete to know I don't want to do concrete
I don't mind doing piers, small landing for deck stairs etc
But larger jobs that I want flat & to look good I will hire a Pro
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Old 04-11-2010, 10:16 PM   #6
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I've done concrete work but wasn't the one in-charge of the jobs. and, of course, i've done all kinds of smaller jobs where bag cement is used and no base was involved. i know it is no fun. Pro's are $.

I can get as much of the work done myself and that is what i want help with. I'll probably just have the cement company smooth it out after pouring.

to start with, how much base? it is a back porch in the panhandle of texas on pullman clay loam soil (very compactible & expandible. it cracks like crazy). 2" gravel, packed. then 2" sand? then the 4" of cement? sounds like a 8" pit should dug. am i right?
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Old 04-13-2010, 10:53 AM   #7
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if you do the prep & framing, it'd make more sense to hire the placing & finishing then you do the joint sawing.

' bag cement ' ( pre-mix'd concrete ) doesn't count in my book,,, doubtful anyone in their right mind would come in to finish w/o placing because proper finishing BEGINS w/placing & consolidating.

here's a thought - by trying to scrimp/save/penny-pinch $$$, you'll probably GUARANTEE you'll have to look at the horrible result for a long LONG time better you should work some overtime, save your $$$, & get it done right the 1st time,,, do-overs are VERY expensive !

then again, it IS yours !
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Old 04-13-2010, 12:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
I've done enough concrete to know I don't want to do concrete
I don't mind doing piers, small landing for deck stairs etc
But larger jobs that I want flat & to look good I will hire a Pro
I agree. You only get one shot on concrete to get it right. Mess up, and you have to start over...including jackhammering the old concrete up. ($$$$)

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. . . I'll probably just have the cement company smooth it out after pouring.
I've never come across a cement company around here that also does finishing work. They simply send a truck and driver and expect you to have a crew in place to do the work.
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:19 PM   #9
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Okay guys! i've got three bids to do the entire job. Gosh Darnit i wanted to do this, but after all these remarks, i've decided to contract out the job. i asked each if i could dig and save some money, but they've all said $50 at most, is all i'd save. they'll come back and dig it out how they want.

THanks for stopping me on this seeming catastrophe!

The difference between contracting out the job and renting all the equipment and paying for cement and hiring a day laborer to help, well, it is about the same.

Thanks All. - rosco
ps. the photos of me trying to do this (me being swamped with cement as i try to re-learn spanish and explain things as the cement dries) and the resulting disaster of a cement job would have been funny. but funny for the viewer only! Thanks All
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:45 PM   #10
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Don't forget that the saw cutting needs to be done VERY soon after the concrete sets up good. I prefer to have a saw on it the very next morning.
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:46 PM   #11
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As a DIY'er it sounds like you are on the right track. You need to tamp (not just water), but you can use a 10x10 hand tamp. Get a fiberglass handle one if you can. It sounds like you are doing a lot of base work. My experience is that many contractors in my area don't bother with lots of base prep or wire mesh for residential jobs as long as you are pouring on undisturbed solid ground.

Your main problem will come with proper finishing technique. It would be very helpful for you to start with some smaller projects to get the hang of it. Also, a common problem with beginners is to not properly support the form and it gives way during the pour.

Browse the books at HD.

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I just saw that you decided to hire it out -- good choice. Watch and learn and then do some small jobs on your own. Be on the lookout for them to take short cuts if you went with the low bid.
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
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...... Gosh Darnit i wanted to do this, but after all these remarks, i've decided to contract out the job.......
A very wise decision.

May I suggest that some sidewalks might be the best beginner's projects. They are easy for one man to do, and if you go slowly and don't rush things, you can usually be pretty proud of the results. Plus, you can easily do them a small section at a time.
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:53 PM   #13
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don't worry about wire mesh as it isn't nec for 4" mud,,, there'd be no joy watching disaster occur when its preventable,,, whenwe replaced our d/w 2yrs ago, we had pro's do it,,, i had no labor pool from which to draw who's skill was verifiable,,, our contractor was a young fellow eager to learn more so it was a great experience for both,,, i still recommend/send him leads he's even better now AND more profitable, too, as his reputation helps him get his $$$ !

not surprised respective costs were a wash,,, take the day off - watch - & learn CONGRATS on being man enough to listen to good counsel w/o having a testosterone overload,,, btw, often many of us wind up w/spare nuts & bolts left over scratching our heads
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:30 AM   #14
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yeah, i won't be doing this job myself. if someone has time to read this and knows what "corners" someone might try to take, please read and comment on this. the method will involved putting a rebar frame in the pit and pouring the cement level to the forms. I've two things highlighted that i'm unsure of. here is what will be signed before the job begins:

Back Patio Contractor's Agreement


This job will be done for a total not to exceed $700 without the prior detailed and expressed “written” authorization by the homeowner, *********** to the contractor, amending this Agreement. This Agreement will be annotated to indicate this authorization.
The following must be met for the job to continue or for payment to be made.
  • The patio slabs to be laid, of at least 4” concrete depth throughout, will be poured and smoothed to a finish existing on current two slabs of concrete on back patio. No rough finish is acceptable.
  • There will be two separate slabs. There is one replacement slab between two existing slabs and a second that is a new extension of the patio. the slab between the two existing slabs is to be 7'6” by 8'. this slab will be anchored to the two existing slabs by six dowells or more. At least three on each side. The dimensions of the “patio extension” slab are to be 26' by 5'.
  • The cement will be of the strength 3,000lbs and poured at a 4” or 5” “Slup”. This will be verified throughout the pour by the homeowner. Pouring is not to begin until this verification is made.
  • A rebar frame of 1/2” rebar will be made of at least 18 pieces of 20' long.
  • The cement will be delivered by either Golden Spread or Thomas Ready Mix.
  • Dirt removed from the digging of the pit for the slabs is to be placed on top of one of two existing dirt piles in the yard, or in a new raised garden, if it is ready in time.
  • The contractor is to use all of his own tools and equipment.
  • Any damage caused to property of the homeowner will be paid for by the contractor.
  • The job will be considered complete when the above has been properly performed and the slab is known to be free of defects.
  • A guarantee is made that if cracks develop within the period of two years, the slab will either be repaired to be free of defects, including visual cracks or blemishes or other defects to the satisfaction of the Home Owner.




Payment will be made when the slabs are completely laid and the above conditions are known to exist.


Homeowner (*********): __________________________________ Date: _________________






Contractor (*****): __________________________________ Date: _________________

Last edited by rosco; 04-15-2010 at 05:35 AM.
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:40 AM   #15
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three questions now about the agreement.
1.) what thickness should the rebar be? i guessed 1/2"

2.) how many years are concrete slabs usually guaranteed for? i guessed two so we could at least go through one cycle of summer/winter/summer and watch it.

3.) i've specified i want the new middle slab to be anchored to the old slabs. since the new slab will "T" up against the two old ones and the new replacement slab, should the long slab be anchored to all three? i didn't think this was necessary.

4.) in the photo, you can see support beam of the porch. they are old and will need to be replaced in the next ten or so years. maybe sooner. we don't want to spend the money now so i expect we'll be replacing them later. what should be done to make removing the cement anchoring these posts? and, could i treat these posts with a coat of Thompson's WaterSeal before the cement is laid to help keep moisture from getting in.

a photo is at beginning of this thread and we live in the texas panhandle. about the same weather as oklahoma city but a little colder since we are at 4,000'.

THX!


Last edited by rosco; 04-15-2010 at 05:58 AM. Reason: additional ?
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