Our home is what they consider to be a “sprawling ranch”. Over the years we’ve added on and added on, again and again, as needed for our family. We eventually built a garage and attached it to the house. Since it wasn’t exactly “planned”, it created a rather unique shape along the backside of the house.
We decided to transform this area into a covered patio. I got estimates from various local companies, the least expensive one quoted me over $23K. That’s right, that’s not a typo, they quoted me twenty-three thousand dollars.
So, like everything else in our house, we opted to do it ourselves and build our own patio. This project took the two of us, my husband and I, four full days to complete.
DIY Stamped Concrete Patio
First, we already had a short slab patio entrance area alongside the length of the addition. The area needed to be tied into the back deck leading to the hot tub and pool.
As you can see, it’s quite a drop-off and our area is prone to red clay.
So, this entire area needs to be built up and leveled off to form the patio.
You can see we have our work cut out for us!
This area is going to be completely covered by patio, so the gutter drain needs a pipe attached to the end to allow for proper drainage flow. We started the patio by using landscaping blocks to bring it up the desired height.
We continued with the patio blocks the entire length of the back patio, starting with the bottom layer, measured out and marked with string and posts to ensure it was straight.
Once one end was completed, we began forming the stairs. Digging them out to ensure they were level.
Next, form the stairs, we wanted them to be quite wide so we could place lanterns or plants on them, or have room for the pets or kids to sit and still have ample room to walk around them.
Once the concrete is poured and smoothed, it’s time to nap in the hammock to give it time to set up properly. 😉
If you have a large project like this, I highly recommend purchasing a portable cement mixer. They’re relatively inexpensive, around $300, and once you’re done with your project you can sell it on craigslist or your local swap & trade board for at least half of that.
Next, we filled in the area with gravel and sand to bring it up to level with the blocks.
Fill the area completely, raking it out until it’s smooth. Use a hose to wet the gravel and sand to ensure that it packs down tightly. You don’t want the area to dry out and settle and then have the patio crack or drop.
Repeat until the entire area is filled in. As you can see here we left the very end open for access to bring in loads of sand. This little machine you see can be rented for a day for about $300. We actually borrowed it from a buddy, no rental fee incurred, (well, shy of a case of beer and some BBQ on the grill!).
Once again, spray the area down, fully saturating it to pack the sand in using a tamper.
Here’s a view from the end of the patio, this part takes a bit of time to ensure that everything is packed in tightly.
Once the area is fully packed in, it’s ready for the concrete (or cement) whatever you choose to use.
Using the cement mixer and bags of concrete, we worked in sections mixing, pouring, and smoothing the patio.
Mix, pour, smooth.
Mix, pour, smooth. (are you sensing a pattern here?)
Yes, there is just the two of us working on this project.
Once the concrete is poured, smooth it out.
Next, once it has started to set but is not dry, apply the true color stamping release agent. This does two things, first, it adds a bit of color to your project (if that’s what you desire), and secondly, it prevents the concrete from sticking to the texture stamp you’re about to apply.
How long after pouring the concrete can you stamp it?
The general rule of thumb for this is, when you can set your hand on the concrete and not have any sand on your hand, it’s crusted enough and ready to go. We found this to take about an hour, but that’s dependent on heat, humidity levels, etc.
Here’s a little note I wish someone had told us, SIFT the release agent onto your project, else you’ll end up with small clumps as you see here.
Those clumps, if rolled with the texture roller will form small indentations in the finished project. Next, roll the area with the textured roller of your choice. As you can see from the photo we opted to purchase the slate pattern.
Roll the evenly across the top of the concrete in strips to create a nice pattern.
Work in Small Sections
It helps to work in small areas or sections at a time. Here we’re working on a small section while the next section has time to set up properly.
If you try to roll a section before it’s had time to set it will create wet spots like you see in the back left corner here. Don’t do that. This was our first time stamping concrete and we started with this section first. There’s a bit of a learning curve here.
Once it fully dries, sweep off the remaining release agent, saving as much as possible for other projects. Then hose the area thoroughly to rinse off the residual release agent.
Once the surface dries, apply a liquid membrane-forming curing compound or seal of your choice. It is recommended that you cut in contraction joins (aka control joins) in the slab to provide stress relief and prevent uncontrolled random cracking. Here’s what the section looks like after it’s rolled, dried, and swept.
and here’s our completed patio. Apply a finish coat of sealer once the concrete has completely cured, about 3-4 weeks later.
Another vantage point…
Once the patio is complete, landscape as desired.
Coffee grows quite well on the patio, as you can see here.
Items needed for a DIY Stamped Concrete Patio or Walkway
Now, I realize that the tools are not cheap, by any stretch. However, if you purchase them, use them for your project and then resell them when you’re done, it’s considerably less expensive than hiring someone! If you’re unsure how much concrete you’ll need, you can use this concrete calculator to figure out the amount necessary.
We built our entire patio for less than $2,700! That’s a far cry from the twenty-three thousand dollars a local company wanted to charge us.
This stamped concrete technique works well on walkways too.