The nicest thing about last week’s progress is that most of it was done by hired professionals. Last Wednesday we were expecting the crew to arrive at 7am, though at 6:15am I heard the sweet sounds of Spanish floating around the yard and our dog started to go nuts. The workers were early! I shoved my husband out of bed and he quickly went down stairs to welcome the team, which consisted of 4 men. While we used some connections Drew had through work, we still went with a legitimate company to better ensure a good outcome. All workers were insured and bonded, outfitted with the appropriate work gear, and very friendly.
Watching this crew work was impressive and it was hard to stop staring at them. My son had to go to school, but beforehand he stood on the deck overlooking the workers and tried out what little Spanish he knows. Which basically consists of counting from 1-10. He is curious and interested in other languages, and in addition to the cool tools the men were wielding, he was very impressed.
The men started by outlining where the form for the concrete would go, this too only minutes it seemed. Then they laid the form in no time at all using what I believe was some stakes and 2x4s. Then they started to measure the height of the stone in various areas to ensure it was evenly distributed. Apparently we didn’t do a great job at this, there was a mound in the middle that was hard to detect by sight alone. They shuffled some stone around and moved on.
I mentioned in our last post (all links to previous posts about the patio can be found below), we needed to reinforce the concrete with rebar and concrete wire mesh netting (looks like a wire gate). They laid this down and started to prep for the concrete to be poured. To prepare for the concrete they marked a level line along the retaining wall, this was to help guide them in shaping the concrete so it sloped away from the house. By sighting a straight line, they were able to scale the concrete downward and out, towards the yard. We do NOT want water to sit against the retaining wall, that would cause rot and water damage in no time at all.
Finally, the moment we had been waiting for, the big trucks pulled in (denting my yard pretty good) and started to pour. It took two trucks total and was pretty loud, but no worries, the in home project manager stood around smiling and nodding. Drew works on the job site with this crew, so he knows them well and was able to guide them and answer questions that came up. I just sat there taking video and pictures like a tourist.
It took two trucks to pour 13 cubic yards of premixed concrete. The crew had big boots and got straight to work leveling and moving the concrete around. Professionals are always amazing to watch, it was as easy as icing a cake for them, or so it appeared that way. They filled the entire patio area and Drew’s molds for the concrete caps which will be placed on top of the retaining wall. The process was hypnotic at times: pour, smooth, pour smooth.
While we had to leave during the pouring process to attend my son’s kindergarten graduation, we understood they would finish pouring, smoothing, creating the control joints, and add a light broom finish.
What are control joints? When you walk down the sidewalk and see a crease between each section of the pavement, that crease is a control joint. When concrete dries it shrinks, so by creating control joints you give the concrete a place to shrink/expand/crack that will not harm the top surface which we walk on.
What is a broom finish? Notice when you are walking on a sidewalk it is a bit rough. This prevents you from slipping and falling. Notice your garage or an unfinished basement, it is smooth (usually), which can be very slippery when wet. I didn’t want the kids (or adults) busting their bums, so a light broom finish was a good way to go.
I am sure I am missing some important steps that occurred, but that’s why they were in charge and not me. It was really cool to watch them and my anxiety was set at ease when I saw how quickly they worked and how professional they were. It was a big pour. While we take pride in doing a lot ourselves, this was best left to professionals.
An argument did ensue when my husband wanted to walk on the concrete that night and I stood my ground that we would give it until tomorrow. He laughed at me, I made him pinky swear he would not walk on it, so I would win this one. After more than 24 hours it dried with no incidents. We probably didn’t have to wait that long, but Drew mentioned it takes a full 7 days to fully cure. I’m a careful person when it comes to something I just dropped a few grand in.
I am breaking this post into two sections, each Part represents a week of work. So Part 5.2 represents the weekend following this Wednesday’s progress.