Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pouring Concrete Pavers

When I last left off, we were just getting started planning out the spacing for our pavers so we could make our form.

We had purchased some 12' long 2x4s since the space we are working with is 13' long. Then we laid them out and played around with the spacing between them until we found something that looked balanced. We settled on 24"x24" blocks with a 6"  gap down the center and in between rows. This left about 12" on either side.

Once we had settled on that set up, it was time to make our form. We cut several 24" long pieces as well as several 3" pieces to act as spacers. We cut them to 3" because each board is 1 1/2" wide. Always make sure to take your board width into account when doing stuff like this. That's a rookie mistake.

So we laid our 12' board down and used the nail gun to attach the 24" boards in between. The boards in the photo above that are parallel with the driveway are spacers. We used the same spacers the whole time to ensure uniformity.

Here's one side completed. We made another one just like it, and then used our 3" spacers to attach them.

Once that was complete, it was time for more digging. We wanted to spacers to be recessed into the ground and we were working with a natural slope. I won't go into too much detail because it's very specific to our space we are working with, but basically we needed to bury one side of the form.

Thar she is in place. And thar she stayed for a week because work gets in the way of everything. It ended up being for the best, however, because it gave the dirt a chance to settle.

And our dumpster came during that week! It felt so very wonderful to be able to purge all the junk that had been sitting around outside and in.

Fast forward to the next weekend, and it was concrete pouring time! We picked up a few bags of gravel and poured about 1" of it into the bottom of each square.

Then we mixed up the concrete in our wheelbarrow according to the directions on the bag.

We shovelled it into the square, filling it so it was just a little higher than the level of the form. We used a trowel to smooth into all the corners.

Then we used a piece of scrap wood across both sides of the form and used a sawing motion back and forth all the way down to get everything level.

Then we went over it with a rubber float to smooth things out. Finally, we used an edger to make clean edges on each square.

Things weren't looking at all like I thought they should, so about mid-way through David decided to take a stab at it, and discovered the error of our ways.

Can you guess which one he did? Apparently I was not working the concrete enough to make the larger chunks of gravel sink to the bottom. I finally got the hang of using a wiggly "icing the cake" type motion with the trowel and it was smooth sailing after that.

We covered everything with a sheet of plastic and left it for the night.

The next day was form removal. We started by cutting the wood in between each square with the reciprocating saw so that we could remove the form square by square. We may have waited a bit too long for this step (the directions on the bag were unclear on this point). They were difficult to remove and we ended up using a pry bar to lift the form while I jumped up and down on the concrete.

Looking pretty good, but we still had to deal with the rough, ugly pavers we had made before we got the hang of things. After some googling, we decided to pick up a bag of portland cement and apply a thin layer. This stuff is different from concrete mix in that it doens't have any sand or gravel mixed into it.

We used the trowel and rubber float to smooth things out as much as possible.

It was quite an improvement! We only applied the portland cement to the five that were very rough and left them to dry to see how differently they would look. It ended up being a pretty noticeable difference so we will be applying the cement to the rest of the blocks so they all look uniform.

But first I was eager to go ahead and fill in with dirt.

Cait at My Old KY House has a sizeable dirt pile in her backyard from her exploits at removing approximately 5,000 raised beds in her yard, so I took advantage of her bounty and filled up the back of my truck with soil.

We are very nearly done! The last time I was at Lowe's I found that they had Irish moss again and for less than at the garden centers I had visited before, so I picked up several plants.

They have adorable tiny flowers on them.

Hopefully in the next few days I will have a celebratory "I'm finished!" post along with some beautiful after pictures.