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Pouring Concrete Patios: A Homeowner’s Guide to DIY Success

Have you ever dreamed of having your own backyard oasis, complete with a gorgeous concrete patio for entertaining and outdoor living? Imagine lazy summer afternoons grilling up burgers on a stunning new slab while the kids play nearby.

Well, stop dreaming and start building! Pouring a concrete patio in Des Moines is an achievable DIY project if you’re willing to put in some hard work. This comprehensive guide breaks down everything from planning to prep to pouring and finishing. Arm yourself with the right info and materials, and you can create a stunning stamped or stained patio worthy of a magazine spread (or at least your family’s affection).

Let’s get started!

Careful Planning Prevents Poor Performance

The first step to patio pouring success is thoughtful planning and layout. You’ll want to consider:

  • The overall shape and footprint – go as big as your space allows!
  • Factoring in proper drainage slope (1-2% grade works well)
  • Working around existing structures like fences or trees
  • Allowing truck access for concrete deliveries

In general, opt for the thickest slab your budget can accommodate for maximum durability. The bare minimum thickness is 4 inches, but going up to 6 makes sense for heavy usage.


You can use an online concrete calculator to determine exactly how many cubic yards you’ll need to order based on the size and thickness of your planned slab.

Perfect Preparation Prevents Poor Performance

They say that every masterpiece starts with a solid foundation (or canvas, in the art world). Well, the same goes for concrete patios! Prepping the underlying ground is crucial for long-term success.

The specific steps include:

  • Mark out the area with spray paint and string lines
  • Remove any sod or plants from the area
  • Dig down 4-6 inches below ground level
  • Add, spread, and compact a 4-6 inch layer of 3/4″ crushed rock
  • Build secure wooden concrete forms to pour against
  • Add rebar reinforcements and anchor into place
  • Thoroughly soak crushed rock base before pouring

Taking the time to correctly prep the base prevents sinking or cracking slabs down the road. Now let’s get to the fun stuff – mixing and pouring!

Mixing and Pouring: The Artistry of Concrete

Depending on your patio’s size, you’ll likely mix multiple batches of concrete to completely fill the formwork void space. While special truck deliveries make sense for massive projects, buying ingredients separately works better for DIY jobs.

The standard mix ratio is:

  • 1 part Portland cement
  • 2 parts sand
  • 3 parts crushed 3/4″ gravel

Plan to add concrete-reinforcing fibers as well for improved durability and crack resistance.

Slowly pour each batch against the forms, moving down the length and preventing air gaps. After screeding across the top to level, resist the urge to overwork the slab while wet – this can lead to unsightly surface issues down the road.

Finishing Finesse Sets Patios Apart

Applying the final decorative and protective touches is what makes or breaks patio perfection. Pay special attention to:

Rounded Edging

Use a specialized concrete edging tool, guided along the wood form fronts, to create a rounded bullnose edge. This finishing detail gives a clean, polished look compared to basic squared corners.

Control Joints

Strategic control joints direct inevitable concrete cracking along straight lines rather than random jagged fissures. Cut these 1-2 inches deep after initial floating for a pro touch.

Choice of Finish

Consider whether you’d prefer an ultra-smooth trowel finish or a slip-resistant broomstick profile. This choice comes down to patio usage – go sleek for entertaining spaces or textured for play areas.

Curing Compound Application

Proper concrete curing allows robust strength development, so patiently keeping surfaces moist is paramount. Use burlap covers, damp cloths, or specialized concrete curing compounds after finishing.

Let’s Level Up: Advanced Techniques

If you’re feeling adventurous, consider staining, engraving, or stamping techniques to transform basic grey concrete into stone, brick, or even wood plank masterpieces!

The sky’s the limit when you pour your own patio. Just take things slow and steady. With the proper prep and materials, you can create a stunning DIY stamped concrete patio right in your Des Moines backyard.

So what are you waiting for? Hopefully it’s just the right weather forecast, because you now have everything needed to start your concrete patio pouring adventure. Grab those forms, mix that mud, and enjoy your new backyard paradise when it’s all cured and complete!

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