Concrete mesh wire reinforcing is a lot cheaper than the fibered concrete
and it works a lot better in the end as well to make a stronger pad. What
are you planning to do for the joints between the stepping stones? You will
get weed growth through them if you don't do some sort of mortar fill.
Don't overwork it or you'll also make it weak. Just let the cream come to
the surface, float it just enough to recess the larger rocks, and then broom
finish. I assume you have the edger tools and bull float and others
necessary for the job? If not, you'll need to either rent or buy them. Add
that to your expense. Have you already purchased a cement mixer or are you
renting one? A decent cement mixer that can stand up to the job you're
describing isn't cheap and it won't be electric operated. So, if you've got
one of those little electric mortar mixers, think again. It won't be sturdy
enough to get through a job like that without a burned out motor. And
mixing up more than 3 bags at a time by hand can give you more of a workout
than you ever dreamed.
Really and truly, its a LOT easier to just get your buddies together with
beer and pizza and their wheelbarrows and call in a truck. When we did our
initial foundation pour for our 30'x54' garage (during the year with record
rainfall, natch) 4 guys and their wheelbarrows and acouple of ramps to keep
everything out of the mud worked great and it got done. Thank goodness by
the time the slab was ready to be poured the rain had somewhat subsided and
the truck could actually get to the construction site. Thank goodness,
because it took 5 truck's worth! (Yes, we dogged the slab and the
foundation together with rebar, way over code too.)
If you don't have enough buddies with wheelbarrows, you can hire day labor
to do the gruntwork and just supervise and do the finish work. You'll be
miles ahead even on expenses still.
Not to mention your aching back. And, that's a point I really and truly
want to stress. Are you someone that can afford to take off a long period
of work if you do injure your back? Because although lugging around 80 lb
sacks of concrete isn't going to kill anyone that's physically fit, doing so
repetitively and with the improper body mechanics can lead to a ruptured
disk and a lifetime of pain or disability. Are you wearing a back brace?
If not, you're foolish! I ought to know. This past year I had 3 surgeries
in 5 months time all because I was foolish enough to think that I was young
and strong and could do just about anything and that I had more time than
money. Well, 3 surgeries later, I still have more time than money for
projects, but I work smarter and not harder, and that's the key to both a
successfull project and a healthy body. If you do insist on doing this
project yourself, at least wear a back brace and warm up the muscles before
lifting and lift with the legs. Make sure you know how to pick up and set
down the sacks without straining your back, as those are the stress times.
Watch out if you're mixing by hand, as that can lead to severe tendonitis.
Yes, I've had that from pouring stepping stones as well and it lasted a
whole year before I could do much of anything that didn't hurt me again. Do
learn from my mistakes at least. If I need more than one stepping stone
(and I'm talking 1 bag of concrete here, not 10+) then I'll call in a mini
truck and do small walk instead. It's more expensive, but let me tell you,
I'm STILL paying off those surgeries, and I'd much rather pay a cement
driver and the pizza guy or a temp agency than a surgeon!
The pro's (I assume) that did the concrete garage floor in the house 2
doors down, used a Bobcat, with a bucket, to move the concrete from the
street inside to the back of the garage.
That is a powered alternative to lots of wheel barrow trips.
If your going to be using 10-12 bags at a time, look into mixing your
own concrete out of gravel, sand and cement vs bags of ready mix.
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