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Old 05-15-2009, 01:24 PM   #1
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Thinking about making concrete pavers - a few questions


I'm weighing the options between making my own concrete pavers or purchasing them. The problem with purchasing is that the dimensions I need don't seem to be available, or if they are they're a bit too expensive (well, to me anyhow).

My questions right now aren't about whether I should make them or not...just a few clarifications on the process of making them.

First some info:
I live in Austin, Texas - so freezing is not really a huge concern.
We might get two or three nights of freezing temps every year at the most.

The pavers I would make would be about 23.25" x 23.25" and would be 2.25" thick.

I plan on laying these out to create a patio in a grid pattern with bricks running between the pavers. (we already have paver bricks, which is why we're trying to incorporate them into the patio).

If I do decide to make them then I'm going to mix my own concrete (or mortar)...which brings me to my questions:


1. I've seen posts out there that suggest I only need to use cement and sand. I've seen others that say I need to use some aggregate in the mix as well. Any thoughts? (this patio will get foot traffic, but no vehicles or anything like that).

2. I've also seen posts and pages suggesting that if you mix with a 2:1 ratio of cement to sand you will not only get a smoother finish, but you could unmold your pavers within an hour or two instead of 24 hours later. Is that true? If so that could make the difference between deciding to make them myself or not - simply due to the time involved.

Any advice, info, etc is greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance.

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Last edited by Luis C.; 05-15-2009 at 01:26 PM.
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Old 05-15-2009, 05:39 PM   #2
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Thinking about making concrete pavers - a few questions


Called around to quite a few local building and stone suppliers today, and so far there doesn't seem to be anywhere in my area to get 2ft x 2ft concrete tiles anywhere near the thickness I need it (the big box stores carry 24" pavers but they're just a hair over 1.5" thick).

So it looks like I'm either pouring these myself or have to go back to the drawing board and rethink the design of the patio.

Thing is, we have around 600 beautiful paver bricks sitting in the backyard that I'd like to incorporate in some way (first because they look great, and secondly because they're free).

But they're nearly 2.5" thick... which means whatever else I put into the patio needs to match that thickness, or I'm assuming I'm asking for problems, right?

It's looking like making my own concrete pavers is probably the direction I'll have to go if I want to stick with this concept.... any advice is welcome.

Thanks.

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Old 05-15-2009, 08:09 PM   #3
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Thinking about making concrete pavers - a few questions


The thickness is irrelevant. Looking down at the stone, what's the difference how thick it is? The pavers you have won't match the ones you make or the ones you buy. Just build up the substrate under the thinners pavers.
When you do belgiun block borders, the stones are various thicknesses. You just bury the thicker ones deeper down so the tops are at the same level.
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Old 05-15-2009, 08:19 PM   #4
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Thinking about making concrete pavers - a few questions


Thanks for the reply, Ron.

Seeing as I don't have much experience, I guess I assumed it would be best if the stones were all the same relative thickness. Seems easier to compact the base all to the same level as opposed to different levels for different stones.
I realize the pavers I (might) make won't match the bricks in thickness exactly - but I figured I'd be able to get them close at least.

So you're saying if I go with pavers that are 1.5" thick and simply build up the base under those properly I shouldn't have any reason to worry about them sinking in the future? If so that's great news.

In which case would it be easier to compact the base layers for the 1.5" pavers, and simply dig the bricks in deeper?
(as opposed to trying to build it up beneath each tile, I mean).

Just to clarify what we have in mind - we're going for a grid pattern (picture attached below). So you can see why I might be worried about using materials of different thickness.
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Last edited by Luis C.; 05-15-2009 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 05-15-2009, 08:35 PM   #5
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Thinking about making concrete pavers - a few questions


How many pavers are we talking about? 10? 50? Yes, it will take a little finesse to deal with the two different thicknesses, but it will also take time to make your own blocks. You would need to look at this and decide which path will give me the best result.
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Old 05-15-2009, 09:42 PM   #6
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Thinking about making concrete pavers - a few questions


Thanks for the advice - I'm going to chew on this.

Unfortunately, finesse is not something I have a lot of, given my inexperience. Also unfortunately the one thing I have a lot of lately is time... seeing as I don't have any work at the moment (which is why I'm trying to keep this project as inexpensive as possible).

I may try my hand at pouring a mold this weekend and see how it goes.
Or I may wake up tomorrow and decide it's not worth it.

Either way, thanks for the info.
Much appreciated.
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Old 05-15-2009, 10:45 PM   #7
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Thinking about making concrete pavers - a few questions


It might be easier to lay out the grid and pour the concrete in place.
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Old 05-16-2009, 12:47 AM   #8
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Thinking about making concrete pavers - a few questions


You know I debated that, but wasn't sure if that was a good idea.
Seems like I'd have to make forms for the concrete in order to do that, or secure the brick in some way as I went along.

Any thoughts on that option would be great.
Just want to make sure I'm not solving one problem and creating new complications in the process.
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Old 05-16-2009, 09:16 AM   #9
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Thinking about making concrete pavers - a few questions


Quote:
Originally Posted by hayewe farm View Post
It might be easier to lay out the grid and pour the concrete in place.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luis C
You know I debated that, but wasn't sure if that was a good idea.
Seems like I'd have to make forms for the concrete in order to do that, or secure the brick in some way as I went along.
There is a relatively easy way to do this.

You can buy long Styrofoam blocks (brick-sized long 10' lengths) Or cut your own.

Form the hollows for the future bricks with this Styrofoam grid, and just pour even with their tops. Later, remove the Styrofoam, and lay the bricks in its place. May need a little grout for filling edges since you DO want the troughs wide enough for each of your "not-exactly-perfectly-sized" bricks.

We use Styrofoam all the time for "negative-forming" like this. Anchor the strips with long gutter nails..... they will be reusable (the nails).
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Old 05-16-2009, 10:46 AM   #10
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Thinking about making concrete pavers - a few questions


Willie - never would have thought of that. Thanks.

Just to clarify, so you're saying that I could just use the styrofoam, or in this technique would the styrofoam all be framed by a wooden form for stability?
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Old 05-16-2009, 11:26 AM   #11
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Thinking about making concrete pavers - a few questions


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Originally Posted by Luis C. View Post
Willie - never would have thought of that. Thanks.

Just to clarify, so you're saying that I could just use the Styrofoam, or in this technique would the Styrofoam all be framed by a wooden form for stability?
Nothing but the Styrofoam cut just a tad larger than your bricks (but in a long, running strip)... leveled as needed by a little dirt shoved under the strips... all held in place with long gutter nails which will push right in by hand, straight down into the dirt. Buy plenty of nails... they need to be about every foot........ And maybe you can work a deal with a local gutter installer to sell the cleaned off nails to him at a little discount, thereby recouping most of that expense. Of course I guess you could figure out something else to use rather than the nails. It just has to be stiff enough to hold the Styrofoam solidly in place. Doesn't hurt to "criss-cross" some of the nails to help prevent the Styrofoam from floating up.

Install with a string line, because Styrofoam will wander off of straight if you aren't careful. Also, pour your concrete gently, a little on each side of a strip as you go so you won't push the Styrofoam out of line with too much pressure on only one side.
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Old 05-16-2009, 12:15 PM   #12
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Thinking about making concrete pavers - a few questions


That sounds great.

It's probably stupid to ask this.... but I may as well.
There wouldn't be any way to secure the brick first and use it as the form for the concrete would there? (without ruining the tops of the bricks that is).

Also - I'm sketching out my options now in terms of layout, and I'm debating between roughly 24" concrete squares or going up to 36" (if I'm pouring them in place then size isn't an issue as far as moving and laying them in)

But seeing as I'm looking at a thickness of roughly 2.25-2.5" is there a size I should consider my upper limit? (in regards to cracking potential, etc). Would 36" square at that depth be too likely to split in half down the road?

Thanks


EDITED TO ADD:
After I walked away from the computer I realized how ridiculous an idea it would be to pour straight into the bricks in place - that would wind up sloppy and with no straight edges.... forget I asked, please.

Last edited by Luis C.; 05-16-2009 at 12:45 PM.
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Old 05-17-2009, 06:18 PM   #13
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Thinking about making concrete pavers - a few questions


Quote:
Originally Posted by Luis C. View Post
That sounds great.

It's probably stupid to ask this.... but I may as well.
There wouldn't be any way to secure the brick first and use it as the form for the concrete would there? (without ruining the tops of the bricks that is).

Also - I'm sketching out my options now in terms of layout, and I'm debating between roughly 24" concrete squares or going up to 36" (if I'm pouring them in place then size isn't an issue as far as moving and laying them in)

But seeing as I'm looking at a thickness of roughly 2.25-2.5" is there a size I should consider my upper limit? (in regards to cracking potential, etc). Would 36" square at that depth be too likely to split in half down the road?

Thanks


EDITED TO ADD:
After I walked away from the computer I realized how ridiculous an idea it would be to pour straight into the bricks in place - that would wind up sloppy and with no straight edges.... forget I asked, please.
Can't say. I don't pour concrete less than 4" thick on purpose.
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Old 05-17-2009, 06:25 PM   #14
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Thinking about making concrete pavers - a few questions


Cut a couple of pieces of angle iron, drill 3 or 4 holes in them, set them next to the bricks and drive gutter nails in to hold in place till the concrete sets.
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Old 05-18-2009, 01:24 AM   #15
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Thinking about making concrete pavers - a few questions


Quote:
Originally Posted by Willie T View Post
Can't say. I don't pour concrete less than 4" thick on purpose.
Fair enough

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