The first, and most important step to take when replacing a concrete walkway is to always use the proper safety equipment. Failure to use proper equipment may lead to injury from flying debris or worse. The most important two pieces of equipment are shatterproof glasses and work gloves.
When ready, the best way to start off is by digging a small trench around the concrete walkways. This will be easier to get to the concrete, and it will make it simpler to place in the forms for the new concrete when you’re ready. When the trenches are dug, you can start breaking up the concrete with a sledgehammer. Then, once broken up, break those pieces into smaller pieces that are easier to transfer. Remove all the old, broken concrete from the existing base, and make sure not to re-use those pieces.
Next, you need to check how deep the gravel underneath the concrete extends to. Dig out a small space that’s at least 3-4 inches deep, removing the existing gravel. Then lay in either your gravel or crushed rock. If using crushed rock, you only need to excavate 1 inch at the most. Now, level out the gravel or crushed rock evenly.
We’re going to be creating our forms for holding in the concrete next. These can be made using 2 x 4 boards, and simply place down the boards in the slots you dug out earlier next to where the concrete will go. If you want to, you can place 2×4 stakes in the walkway corners, which will allow you to drill boards on the side into the stakes to ensure they don’t fall over. Continue laying them out until the entire walkway is surrounded by the boards. Make sure all forms are level and that they are approximately at the same height as the old concrete. If they aren’t, you need to adjust your forms more before pouring. And before pouring, if you are bonding the new concrete with old concrete, you must roughen the sides of existing concrete that will connect with a hammer and chisel. After roughened, you must also moisten the sides. Finally, apply form lubricant to the inside of each form. Now you’re ready to pour.
You will need to, if you haven’t already, mix your concrete according to the manufacturer instructions. Once mixed, you can pour the concrete into the forms. Take your screed and run it over the surface of your freshly poured concrete at least three times. The concrete should begin to harden and some water will come to the top.
Using a concrete edger, you will be able to enhance the edges of a walkway by running your edger all the way across the concrete edges to the form. For finishing the concrete, you will need to use either a wooden or metal float. Most professionals recommend a magnesium float, but there are many options for many different situations. It can be used to help match the finish of an existing walkway, if necessary. When you’re satisfied with the edges and finish of your walkway, completely cover all parts with a plastic sheet for a week. You’ll need to mist the concrete daily in order to properly cure your walkway. This will add great strength to any walkway and help aid in crack resistance.
Using these steps, we’ve been able to satisfy many with our walkways. Here’s one of our most recent projects, from Fort Lee, New Jersey. We replaced the old concrete, and formed it out to the borough engineers standards using forms, and afterwards the engineer came to inspect that the forms were properly set and at the proper height. Then we were able to pour the concrete like normal, and it turned out great. See for yourself what is possible when you choose us for the job!