How to Plan and Prepare for a New Sidewalk

When planning a new sidewalk consider completing the labor yourself to save on the costs of this home improvement project. You will need to plan and prepare for the project by locating and measuring the area, ordering the cement, allowing it to dry and sectioning it to prevent any cracking.

Measuring the Sidewalk Dimensions

Decide on the height for your sidewalk stones, depending on the surrounding lawn or area. A sidewalk that is too low or too high can be a hazard. Measure the dimensions of the area where the new sidewalk will be placed.  Be sure that you add in the measurements of the length and width of the two inch by four inch boards that will be used as forms to support the sidewalk.

Planning the Excavation of the Sidewalk Area

Sidewalk areas are shallow and because of that fact they are typically excavated with a shovel. Once excavated, the soil will have to be made level. You will need to rent a tamper form a local hardware store or rental shop. After tamping the dirt, the area will need to be checked and made level if it isn't already. 

Preparing the Sidewalk Forms

Forms will need to be set into the area to support the sidewalk. The forms will be made using two inch by four inch studs that are forty-eight inches in length. Each stud will be connected to the next one with a block nailed into the wood joint. 

Ordering the Cement

Small sidewalks should require only ready mix bags of cement. You will be able to combine the mix in a wheelbarrow with water and pour it into the excavated area. Larger sidewalks will require the assistance of a cement company. You will need to find a reputable company in the area. Contact them and discuss your project with one of their service professionals. You will need to order a six-bag mix of cement for your sidewalk. This type of mix has more cement and less composite material. You will need to provide the company with the dimensions for the sidewalk and the company will calculate the amount of cement you will need. The company will also give you a quote for the cost of the cement you will need. Typically, cement is priced at about ninety dollars for a yard of cement.

Planning the Pour

The cement company will pour the cement and you will shovel it into the forms. Once that is complete, you will need to break the air bubbles in the cement and smooth it out. A long piece of lumber will work to smooth the surface by sliding the board across the cement. The cement will take about three days to dry before the forms can be removed. 

Sectioning the Sidewalk Cement

Finally, the sidewalk cement will need to be cut into sections with a concrete cutter. You can rent a concrete cutter from a local hardware store or rental shop. The sections will allow the sidewalk to contract and expand with the movement of soil below it.