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Baoh 11-18-2011 07:18 PM

Concrete Path Against Foundation without Expansion Joint
I recently purchase a newly built home in the Denver, CO area. I just had a contractor poor a 3 foot wide sidewalk from my front yard to my back yard. He poured it directly against the foundation without an expansion joint between it and the foundation. This path runs approximately 30 feet against the foundation. He said that it was better to pour it directly against the foundation as that would minimize water under the sidewalk and against the foundation. He said that for a sidewalk that this is a better approach than an expansion joint. Is this accurate? Should I worry about the expansion and contraction of the path? Thank you in advance.

P.S. I tried to find a similar situation to mine in these forums and came across this thread: I posted my own since the expansion and contraction of a 3 foot wide sidewalk should be less than a full patio slab.

Gary in WA 11-18-2011 11:00 PM

Welcome to the forums!

Here is some reading while waiting for a pro to answer:


JoJo-Arch 11-20-2011 03:14 AM

I'm sorry to tell you the builder pulled one over you. It is defenitely NOT OK to pour the slab against something established and firm like a footing. As the path is floating on soil near the surface and subject to heaving, it will want to move up and down independently of the footing. If bonded properly to the footing, the path being a lot weaker and less massive than the footing will crack away and crack itself in the prosess, so what bulldust is he talking about. All fresly poured concrete looks good in the first 4 weeks, until cracking occurs. Once cracking developes, does he think water won't enter the cracks? He is either grossly ignorant or a clever con artist. I would sack such a builder on the spot, no questions asked. If you haven't paid him, don't until he rips it up and does the job properly by the following steps. (If he has laid the path as follows, I will eat my words,)
  1. Ground preparation- remove top soil to clay bed
  2. level all lumps with slight fall across path and away from house.
  3. form up sides for neat edge
  4. install malthoid fibre strip against footing
  5. fill and spread crushed stone to 2'' depth, screed and level
  6. fill 2'' with packing sand and level
  7. place moisture barrier on sand
  8. place mesh reinforcement for length of path (light duty would do)
  9. Place contration joints across path no greater than 10'00'' spacing with starter bars.
  10. ensure reo is lifted off bottom of path
  11. pour 25 MPA concrete with minimal slump. Thickness not less than three and 1/2 inches, 4'' better.
  12. rough screed and form grooves as setting starts
  13. after 1-2 hours, hand screed and add topping mix of cement slurry
  14. broom or pattern surface for non skid finish, grade away from house.
  15. Allow 8 hours to cure
  16. Spray water mist or wet hessian bags to prevent moisture loss and cure the concrete for up to 2 weeks, especially in hot weather.
By the way, did he mix his own concrete, or have it delivered by mini-mix truck? If he mixed his own, did anyone observe his mix ratios? More possible shortcuts here, he could have saved on cement (equals weak concrete) or addedd too much water to make it easy to work (equals even weaker concrete). Youll find out the results in 4-5 weeks.

Next time you want a job done, for peace of mind and proper competition, get at least three quotes. Any cheap quote means shortcuts unless you can get him to itemise what work he will do. In fact, get him to prove he can do it cheaply and ask why. Even if he could get free concrete, you'll probably find its concrete that has failed tests and needs to be dumped out of the truck before it sets. Believe it or not this happens. Sorry if I didn't make your day, but you wouldn't have raised the issue unless you smelled a rat.

Cheers from an Architect in the land downunder.

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