Poured Concrete Pathways
BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 120 Projects
If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at creating with concrete, an outdoor walkway is a great project to start with. The basic elements and construction steps of a walkway are similar to those of a poured concrete patio or other landscape slab, but the smaller scale of a walkway makes it a much more manageable project for first-timers. Placing the wet concrete goes faster and you can easily reach the center of the surface for finishing from either side of the walkway.
Like a patio slab, a poured concrete walkway also makes a good foundation for mortared surface materials, such as pavers, stone, and tile. If that’s your goal, be sure to account for the thickness of the surface material when planning and laying out the walkway height. A coarse broomed or scratched finish on the concrete will help create a strong bond with the mortar bed of the surface material.
The walkway in this project is a four-inch-thick by 26-inch-wide concrete slab with a relatively fine broom finish for providing slip resistance in wet weather. It consists of two straight, 12-foot-long runs connected by a 90-degree elbow. After curing, the walkway can be left bare for a classic, low-maintenance surface, or it can be colored with a permanent acid stain, and can be sealed or left unsealed, as desired. When planning your walkway project, consult your city’s building department for recommendations and construction requirements.
Straight slope: Set the concrete form lower on one side of the walkway so the finished surface is flat and slopes downward at a rate of 1⁄4" per foot. Always slope the surface away from the house foundation or, when not near the house, toward the area best suited to accept water runoff.
Crowned slope: When a walkway does not run near the house foundation, you have the option of crowning the surface so it slopes down to both sides. To make the crown, construct a curved screed board by cutting a 2 × 2 and 2 × 4 long enough to rest on both sides of the concrete form. Sandwich the boards together with a 1⁄4"-thick spacer at each end, and then fasten the assembly with 4" wood or deck screws driven at the center and the ends. Use the board to screed the concrete.
As an alternative to the wire mesh reinforcement used in the following project, you can reinforce a walkway slab with metal rebar (check with the local building code requirements). For a 3-ft.-wide walkway, lay two sections of #3 rebar spaced evenly inside the concrete form. Bend the rebar as needed to follow curves or angles. Overlap pieces by 12" and tie them together with tie wire. Use wire bolsters to suspend the bar in the middle of the slab’s thickness.