Let's backtrack. We originally had scheduled the concrete truck to deliver on a Saturday, when we would have had five total people to help us move it. But we found out the Friday before that they didn’t have enough deliveries to work on Saturday, so it had to be postponed until the following Monday at 7:30 a.m. Thankfully, my parents were still able to come and help us out, or else there was no way we could have done it. My dad already had a lot of helpful tools (edger, groover, wood float, finish trowel, square shovel, wheelbarrow), so the only thing we had to buy was a magnesium float. Woot!
Since traipsing through the house and down the stairs with buckets of concrete was not exactly desirable, the only other reasonable alternative was taking it down through the aforementioned window well. So we loaded wheelbarrows from the truck, and my mom and I shoveled it into buckets to hand to Luke.
We got concrete with fiberglass mesh in it (which acts as a reinforcer), since that was what was originally used in our basement. It kinda looks like it has a bunch of tiny hairs in it.
Luke got the crappy end of the deal, since he was the one on the ladder who was taking them down through the window. And it’s not that I’m not confident in his brute strength or anything, but I found myself secretly praying that he wouldn’t fall backwards every time I handed him another bucket.
Oh, did I mention that we only had one hour to unload all our concrete before they started charging us $1 per extra minute? No pressure to get it done quickly or anything…..
Meanwhile, my dad was working on smoothing and finishing the concrete until it was flush with the existing slab. I couldn’t see what was going on down there, so I had Luke snap a couple of pictures. Looks like Dad knows what he’s doing!
Once we had finally shoveled our last bucket, our work was not yet done. We still had an 18-foot-long sidewalk to pour. Although Dad had some experience with finishing a sidewalk years ago, we all gave ourselves some good ol’-fashioned YouTube education in advance.
The sidewalk pouring went much quicker since we were able to dump the full wheelbarrows directly into our formwork instead of hassling with buckets. We started doing this while Dad was still working away in the basement.
After we had pretty much filled the formwork, we realized that was probably not the smartest decision, since Dad would now have to step in the concrete to screed it, instead of screeding and filling at the same time. But we managed to make it work. Good thing he had some heavy-duty Muck Boots on. After screeding with a 2x4, he used the wood and magnesium floats and finally the finish trowel. (Sidenote: I had no idea it was spelled "screed" until I looked it up. What a weird word.)
It was already looking good, but it really began looking like an honest-to-goodness sidewalk once they started the edging and grooving to make the control joints (which allow for expansion and contraction due to temperature changes). Luke and Dad had a pretty good system going, but since the sidewalk was so wide, it was quite a reach to get over to the other side. Rather than fashioning some sort of harness to hold onto Luke, it was easiest for me to just grab onto his shirt to keep him from falling in the wet concrete. Oh, the things one must do when DIY-ing….
By noon-ish, the sidewalk was just about finished. Not bad for a morning’s work! We did try putting Dudley’s paw prints in it, but I thought they looked kind of sloppy, so we smoothed them back out. Then Luke tried writing "2011" in it, and that didn’t look so good either. Maybe it had already started to harden too much. Anyway, we ended up leaving our sidewalk impression-free. A few hours after pouring it, it was already hard enough that I couldn’t even make a dent in it with my finger.
Once we cleaned up all our tools, we took Mom and Dad out for cheeseburgers at Five Guys Burgers and Fries (their request), and they headed home. Later that day, Luke and I put a plastic “tent” over the sidewalk since there was rain in the forecast. Providing some extra sun protection also helped the concrete from drying out too fast, which apparently can cause premature cracking.
As excited as I was about our basement hole finally being filled, I just wanted to keep looking at our sidewalk. Who knew watching concrete dry could be so exciting? However, it’s probably not as exciting for you, so I will refrain from posting all the photos of drying concrete... after this one, I mean.
Oh, in case you’re interested, we unloaded the truck in about 1 hour and 15 minutes. (In fact, we probably didn’t use all the concrete we ordered.) But the delivery guy said they wouldn’t worry about charging us for the 15 extra minutes. He was really nice!
Concrete Cost Breakdown for Sidewalk & Basement Floor:
Formwork: About $20
Fibermesh Concrete: $132.75 for 1.5 cubic yards
Delivery Charge: $100 plus $8.75 fuel surcharge
Magnesium Float: $15
Labor: paid in cheeseburgers and fries
We’re probably going to take a little break before starting any major construction in the basement, but it’s just exciting to know that our bathroom now has a floor again! Just to clarify: Hole in the wall = good. Hole in the floor = bad.
Anyway, I’m off to go check out our sidewalk again. Thanks again, Mom and Dad!
P.S. Pouring your own sidewalk? Here’s a pretty good tutorial, since mine wasn’t actually very explanatory. If we can do it, you can do it!