Sidewalk Reinforcement

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I'm installing a sidewalk in my back yard. I thought I would try Quickrete's fiber reinforced ready mix which seems to work fine but can add up to being on the expensive side at $4+ per 60 lb. bag. Since I'm doing the work myself with no help ( and I don't want to hire a contractor, pumper, etc. ), I am laying the sidewalk in inter-locking 4' x 4' x 4" segments using a small mixer ( a step up from the wheelbarrow!) The reason for using the fiber reinforced product is so I won't have to use a reinforcement mesh. My dilemma is that I can buy 90 lb. ready-mix bags for 1/2 the cost of the fiber reinforced stuff. If I do so, do I really need to reinforce it with some mesh? I live in a pretty even So. Cal. climate. Remember, I'm basically making some 4' x 4' x 4" "stepping stones with a cast in interlocking tab at each end. Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions!!
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Mark and Kim Smith wrote:

Step back from that plan for a moment. Find out what it will cost you to have that delivered ready mix. I think you are going to find that you will pay more to do it yourself, than use ready mix. Those bags only make sense for very small jobs.
I am not sure what you mean by "inter-locking 4' x 4' x 4" segments" but it does not sound like a good idea to me.
Either get a pro or find some friends and bring on the truck!
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Joseph E. Meehan

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Joseph Meehan wrote:

The only problem with the truck is getting the cement from the truck to the place where the concrete has to go. That means adding the cost of a pumper. Plus any labor to run it. Interlocking just means I'm keying the ends of each slab.
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I wouldn't bother with reinforcing for a 4x4. Just make sure the ground is well prepped under it so they don't settle.
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Use a wheel barrow. Even the pros do that.
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Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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Chris Lewis wrote:

Even if he does the mixing himself, he will still need to move all those bags of materials himself. So I agree wheel barrows would be better than mixing. Of course with a ready mix truck he will need to enlist a few friends to help with the job both to move the concrete and finish it. With a large cooler and beer it could be a party to remember (beer after the job is done).
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Joseph E. Meehan

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See my other, longer, post... ;-)

When I had my crew (professional concrete contractors) over to do our work, they had to stick around after the screeding for a couple hours to do the final floor finishing.
In the idle times between using the machine, we retired to the pool with a few beers.
What a lovely day.
I thought they were going to give _me_ a tip ;-)
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Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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I'm not visualizing your design well this afternoon, so these comments may not be applicable....
Are you on clay, or other expansive soil?
What are you doing for base? (rock/gravel/sand/native soil?) Is it compacted? Is there a chance of subsidence, due to water flows or something else?
What are you expecting the fiber reinforcement to accomplish? Have you priced the steel reinforcing mesh for the amount you need?
Are you renting the mixer? The time (rental charges) involved may end up eating your savings and then some.
Working by yourself? Or with recruited help? The faster you can get to a broom-finish, the happier your help will be.
One batch from the ready-mix guys will pretty much insure a color/shade match...
And, the big one for me as a homeowner-DIY guy: There is a HUGE payout to being able to finish a project in one day. Satisfaction. Accomplishment. Sunday to recover before going back to work.
I did some concrete work for a spa pad two years ago, with several of my sons. It's easier to write a check to the landscape guys these days, but my sons had never poured concrete. Some things just need to be learned first hand...
Patriarch
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patriarch < wrote:

Some replies below.
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I would opt for the cheaper concrete. And then buy some cement in an bag. Add a couple of shovels of cement to each mix. That might increase the premix from 1500 psi to 2500 psi. Then I would get some steal mesh and use it for reinforcement. I have never had problems with any concrete that I have poured other than trying to remove one part of the driveway in the last house. Or just put rebar about 4 inches in from the edge for each slab poured. Fiber mesh sounds fine for stucco. I like concrete to be for ever.
Around here mini-mix is $168 a yard from the despot. Last concrete job I did I got 4 labors and wheel barrows and worked it that way.
I would sure like to see your form for the stepping stones your making.
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SQLit wrote:

Forms are simple 2 x 4's. 8 footers sectioned into 4' square. Except for the curved sections which are kerfed 1 x 4.
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Mark and Kim Smith wrote:

Screw it. Do the best you can, the cheapest you can. Make some extras and stack 'em in the garage as replacements.
The concrete bases (4'x4'x2") used to set air conditioning units on are cheap concrete with no internal reinforcements.
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And their relative position to an adjoining block is not critical because there are no adjoining blocks.
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Each 4 x 4 pad will take 10 or more 80 pound bags of concrete mix. As has been stated, you will need to add Portland to give the sack goods enough strength.
How were you going to get all this material to the sidewalk location? If I assume you were going to use a wheelbarrow, why not order ready mix and use the same wheelbarrow? You will get a better grade of concrete from the ready mix truck.
Spend the time and the money on forms, preparation with select subgrade material, subgrade compaction, and good grade and drainage. Fibermesh and WWF are not meant for concrete reinforcement. They help keep cracked concrete in plane and help prevent cracks getting bigger. You never said how long your 4' wide walk was to be, but I suspect your energy will be spent just placing and finishing the concrete without the worry of mixing it too. This is said looking backwards from 60 and I pour some concrete every week. YMMV.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Keep the whole world singing . . . . DanG (remove the sevens) snipped-for-privacy@7cox.net

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Why do you folks think bag mix is weak? The typical "general purpose Bonsal" stuff they sell at the BORG is 3000# gravel. That is plenty for a sidewalk. Sakrete "high strength" is 4000# gravel. The yellow bag Quikrete 1101 at Blowes is 3500# gravel
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Each 4 x 4 x 4" pad took 11.5 - 12, 60 lb sacks.
I would think doing a 4' x 4" by 85 linear' total, rolling wheelbarrow full by wheelbarrow full ( let's face it, if you are going to have a truck come out, pour the whole project!) would require more than just me to work the stuff into the forms. How much time will I have before the driver starts to worry about having to dump his load because it is starting to set up in his barrel? Much as I would love to have a truck roll out, all this starts adding to the cost to hire the labor, pressure of timeliness, etc, etc. It's just not an option.
As it is now, a pallet of bags goes in my truck, from my truck to my arms, from my arms to the backyard in a stack next to the mixer, then into the mixer. Don't worry, I can use the workout.
My main concern is what type of cracking I would get comparing one product to another. The manufacturers fiber reinforced product ( not fiber -mesh ) "Construction Grade blend of portland cement, sand, gravel & special reinforcing fibers to reduce shrinkage cracks and improve impact resistance." as compared to regular premix, "Original 4000 psi average compressive strength blend of portland cement, sand, and gravel or stone.", would the "regular" premix require additional reinforcement for a 4' x 4' x 4" "slab"?
DanG wrote:

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I think you're really asking for a nightmare. Even doing it in 4' sections, you're going to have a hard time mixing, pouring and working the forms in one go before the concrete starts to set if you do it by yourself.
Secondly, especially if you're in a freezing climate, you can't effectively provide good air entrainment if you mix it yourself. [I know that there's a certain amount of "instant entrainment" in good bag mixes, but no where near the reliability/consistency of commercial mix.]
Without air entrainment, you probably _will_ have the concrete erode thru spalling.
I had a crew of 4 (with only one guy doing the barrow) lay a whole mixer load in under 2 hours - a 32x24' garage floor (4", and "helicoptered" finish) plus an avg 3' wide broomed apron around a 40'x20' rectangle. _No_ problem with the time...
Hire one or two big strapping teenage kids (at $5-10/hr) to work the barrow and the shovel, and you get to stand around criticizing between working the screed and broom.
It'll be cheaper.
Price it out. Ask the concrete supplier how long they can be "on site". If it seems skimpy, ask them if they can extend it - they can make minor adjustments to the mix to extend its working lifetime without impairing the resulting strength.

It largely depends on what you're laying it on. In my case, the concrete guy said that the gravel inside the garage had been settling for several years, and likely didn't need it. But the fiber was only $50 for the load as contrasted to about $250 for wire mesh, and it seemed cheap insurance even if it turned out to be overkill.
On the apron, there was a couple of narrow sections (~12" segment on a corner, and around "planter inserts" into the concrete), so I scampered out to the local building supplier for a few pieces of rebar, and flung in a couple of short cut pieces in the narrow spots.
Do remember to ask for 6% (IIRC) air entrainment and the other good stuff. If you're in a freezing climate, you'll regret not having air entrainment which you cannot effectively do yourself.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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You need to use rebar or mesh. Your interlocking plan will work OK, but you could just as easily pour the who;e thing and have it set slowly by hosing regularly with a fine mist. The next day, sawcut all the expansion joints @ 4'. Put the mixer on a cart and the bags on a separate cart, and just mix and pour down the line. Finishing looks easy, but it's an acquired skill, and dependent on having the mix poured and finished in a timely manner.
Mark and Kim Smith wrote:

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Mark and Kim Smith wrote:

To answer some questions. Stuff I was using:
http://www.quickrete.com/catalog/Fiber-Reinforced%20Concrete%20Mix.html
Stuff I'm thinking of using ( although it says it comes in 80 lb bags, it comes in 90's too):
http://www.quickrete.com/catalog/ConcreteMix.html
Interlocking method:
http://www.quickrete.com/project_graphics/page5_t.gif
Cement is going on solid soil which is compacted and hasn't been disturbed as long as I have lived at the place. The fiber reinforcement is not a mesh but fibers added to the mix at the factory. According to the manufacturer, it helps prevent surface cracking. No other reinforcement required. Mixer was bought cheaply in the local paper ( although I almost made my own out of parts laying around. A regular McGyver, I am!) Not worried about a color / shade match. This sidewalk will be a kid zone. Chalk artwork, bike riding, mud pies, etc. I'm not worried about finishing in one day. Time I have plenty of as long as I can accomplish a piece at a time before I head off to the nightly night job. 4' sections work out perfect for me. And the good satisfaction and accomplishment feelings still show up. All this started back in April with a plan in my head, http://www.bunchobikes.com/pond.htm .
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Mark and Kim Smith wrote:
I still think you are making a mistake. BTW I hope I read it wrong, but what are you doing to provide a base for this project? Not providing a good base, is not a wise idea. A good base with compacted gravel is a must. I really would hate to see someone try what you are suggesting.
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Joseph E. Meehan

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