How may do you need? How many a day can you pour? I've looked at them but
figured it would not save very much and be a lot of labor on a daily basis
for any quantity. Please report back if you decide to go ahead.
I've looked at them. . . . priced redi-mix [& portland when I had
piles of sand and gravel lying around] . . . considered the amount of
work it would be. .. . wondered what I'd do when the uncured blocks
started breaking. . . and ended up buying a few ready-made stepping
As a craft project they might not be too expensive to play with. But
if you really want a decent path, spend your time and effort preparing
the base, and put down pavers or stones of your choosing. There is a
wide variety out there - and they are already culled and cured.
OTOH- I never throw out any concrete when I have a batch mixed. I
keep a few cut off 5gallon buckets around & pour 2" pancakes in the
bottom of the bucket. I've got a dozen of these 'rounds' in various
places around the property. Some are colored- some have gravel
embedded in the surface- some are plain. Better than wasting
already mixed concrete- but I don't walk on them for several months
until the concrete is cured.
Avoid the temptation to mix the concrete too wet and you should be fine.
You will need enough molds to cast enough stones per batch so you don't have
left over concrete after the molds are full, so you probably need to make
smaller batches than a full sack of redimix.
You can play with color and texture if you do it yourself.
About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
Ok I should have mentioned that the type that I want to use is the
stamp type. Where you set the mold on the area that you want, pour in
the cement and then wait a minute and lift it out. I was still
planning to lay a packed gravel base where it was going and add an
edging to hold it in and sweep in motor sand as well.
I did this last summer.
Second the previous poster who said avoid getting it too wet. It
very thick, not runny. If you can pour the mix in directly and level
it off, it's too runny for this application, and you'll have to wait
15 minutes to an hour for the concrete to set enough for you to pull
the mold. While that works and is relatively easy, it does require
you to have several molds on hand. There is a faster way if you're
willing to work at it.
Ideally, with a barely-wet-enough-to-work mix, once you've filled the
mold it should take some effort with a wooden trowel to get the stone
and gravel pushed down into the mix and force up enough finer mix to
be able to smooth off the top. Take any excess and throw it in the
mixer and start the next batch mixing, then come back, carefully
remove the mold, rinse it off, and place it for the next impression.
A rubber deadblow hammer helps to level the mold if your gravel bed
isn't perfect. You can also prop the mold up with pieces of gravel to
compensate for small dips. Have somewhere to rinse you mold and tools
where the runoff won't cause issues (don't turn your wife's favorite
flower bed into conrete from the runoff). Clean up around the already
cast blocks regularly so that you can get the mold tight against the
last row without stray gravel getting in your way.
It helps to be working on several rows at once, staggered, so that as
you screed off the top you don't mangle the one you just poured
previously. I got to where I could make about 4 impressions an hour
with only one mold.
After a reasonably harsh New England winter, the only blocks that
didn't hold up well are the ones where the stones were not worked down
well enough, leaving air pockets down low in the blocks which then
filled with water and froze, causing the blocks to disintegrate.
Also, for irregular edges and the like, have a couple of sheets of
plywood handy just bigger than the mold. Use these to pour extra
blocks, which are then fitted into your pattern where needed. If you
come back after about an hour, you can cut into these to fit for
curves and angles with a trowel. As they get harder, you can still
sort of cut them by chipping away at them, but they're very fragile at
that point, and it's easy to break them where you don't want. Once
fully cured you can cut them with either a brick chisel or a masonry
saw. In that case, make extra, they don't always break/cut clean.
Above all, be willing to experiment and be willing to throw away
something and start over if it's not working, it may take a little
trial and error to get what works for you.
Hope that's enough to get you started.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.