Concrete Forms Set-Up

Here are the steps to setting up a square 4 inch thick patio with concrete forms. Below these steps you will also find advice on setting up different shaped designs.

Materials you will need:

  • Four 2X4s (the size of your patio will determine the length of the 2X4s you will need)
  • Wood or Metal Stakes - As many as needed to make the forms stable. You may also use fill sand or gravel if you run out of stakes, but make sure that there are some stakes on each side.
  • 8 Penny Doublehead Nails or Drywall Screws
  • A four foot level or a laser level
  • String line
  • Hammer
  • Tape Measure
  • Sledgehammer (maul)

Step #1

Using your tape measure, place one stake in each corner where your patio will lay. Use the sledgehammer to pound the stakes in.

Step #2

Tightly pull the string line around all four stakes and secure by wrapping the string around the final stake. Set the string line's height at the height you want your patio. This string is the guide that will ensure that the forms are straight.

Step #3

Using your hammer, nail the forms up to the outside of the string line (the string will be on the inside where you pour the concrete). Use more stakes to secure the forms up to the string line so that the concrete will not bow the form out.

You will need to raise the forms off the ground and nail them to the stakes to make sure that they are flush with the string line. Don't worry about the forms being lifted off of the ground. You will build up the ground during the final grade. Here is a picture of what the forms will look like raised up off of the ground and secured with the stakes:

concrete forms

Step #4

To control the flow of water on your patio, you will need to slope the patio in such a way as to allow for drainage. Drop 1/4 inch per foot on the side your patio will drain off water. For example, for an 8X8 patio, each side is 8 feet. Therefore, drop the string line 2 inches (8 X 1/4 inch) on the side that you want to drain off water.

Step #5

Check your work. Use the level to make sure all your heights are correct.

Advice on Doing Different Designs:

  • For a circular patio: Use masonite siding for your forms. Measure the diameter, find the center point by dividing this number in half (this is your radius), and place a stake in the center. Place stakes around the center by measuring the length of the radius several times and placing stakes until you have an even circle.
  • Here is a picture of a circular sandbox set-up using the above procedure:

concrete forms
  • Irregular shapes: To spark creativity, use a garden hose to create different-shaped perimeters of possible patios. Alternatively, spray paint the lawn until you find a shape you like. Then set-up your forms accordingly. Masonite siding would also apply here as it is more pliable than 2X4s.

Here is a picture of a patio set-up using "S" shaped sides:

concrete forms

After you set-up your concrete forms, the next step in the process is compacting the fill and making a final grade.

Would you rather not do it yourself? If so, and you live in the Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs area, request a quote on your concrete project.

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