Get a Free Estimate

A Quality Backyard Patio In 6 Steps

Probably the most maintenance-free option for an outdoor entertaining area in your back yard is a concrete patio. It's a good deal of work to install it, but ongoing maintenance consists of hosing it off periodically. Here are the steps you need to take to pour a useful and attractive patio:

  1. Lay out the area you want to use. Clean it of vegetation and debris, and level it using a rake and shovel, or a rototiller if necessary. Excavate to a depth of four inches, or six inches if you plan to use a two-inch sand or gravel base. Provide a slope of one inch every four feet for drainage. Use a line level to determine this. Finally, use a soil compactor to provide a firm base.


  2. Construct your forms, using 2X4's and wooden stakes, or bender board for curved sections. The forms should be sturdy enough to walk on, because they will be containing the weight of a lot of concrete. For extra strength and to prevent cracking, lay out wire mesh or rebar within the forms.


  3. Determine the amount of concrete you will need. One cubic yard is 27 cubic feet, or enough to cover 81 square feet to a depth of four inches--a 9' X 9' area. For an 18' X 18' patio, you will need four cubic yards of concrete. You can purchase pre-mixed concrete and rent a mixer for small jobs, but for jobs of five cubic yards or more, ordering delivery by a concrete truck is recommended.


  4. Mix your concrete or schedule delivery. If possible, recruit two or three friends to help. Pour the mixed concrete into the forms starting at the farthest corner and moving to the near side. You can use filler rocks to minimize the amount of concrete needed.


  5. Level the concrete using a screed or 2 X 4's. Slide the screed on top of the forms to spread the concrete into all areas of the forms. Then use a wooden float to further level and smooth the surface.


  6. Place expansion joints every three to four feet. You can purchase plastic joints at a home improvement store, or score them with a steel trowel. Finish the concrete with an edger and steel trowel to smooth it, then do a final finish on your concrete as it begins to set up. A brushed finish, using a soft-bristle broom is the easiest. Other options are exposed aggregate, decorative stamps, and color. Keep the concrete wet as it cures, either by hosing it down periodically or putting plastic over it.