Do you have a garden where you would like some custom touch? Or maybe you would like to do a custom walkway?
I have written about curb appeal and pavers before in this blog. For curb appeal, it’s important that we make our homes look nice and neat to raise their value and pavers are a good way to do that. There is another way to have custom looks on your property by using DIY concrete paver molds and this guide is for explaining that.
With this project, you can easily create an attractive stone façade sidewalk with one person and a weekend. You need to buy the dry concrete mix and concrete paver molds. These stone molds can be bought at Home Depot or Lowes. They are small handheld plastic paver molds about 2×2 or 3×3 in size and there are even bigger ones.
There are several different shapes and sizes of stones in the form. Because there are multiple ways to turn the form, it creates an unrecognizable pattern and makes the stones appear randomly placed.
Remember that even though it might seem that this is no different from using concrete pavers, concrete itself can be customized by using pigment color or even color it with latex. The surface can be sealed or stained just like any other concrete surface.
Doing it like that will allow you to have a truly unique sidewalk no one else has.
Making path with DIY concrete paver molds
Now it is time to decide if you want to install the paver molds on top of grass or remove some soil that the DIY pavers will be on the same level as your grass. Both looks can work out, removing the grass is just some extra work.
First, you need to stake out a path for your sidewalk. Take a garden hose or construction string line and lay it along where you think you would like your path. Move the garden hose in any direction you want.
You can have tight curves or straight lines because the form can be changed in nearly any direction and the stone pattern will still stay tight. Place a stake in the ground to hold the hose or tie the string line if needed.
You only need to do one side of the path with the garden hose or construction string line. Using the concrete paver mold it will be automatically the same width from the other side, but if you’re worried you can mark the other side as well.
As stated at the beginning, you won’t have to remove any grass but you may want to mow the area first and then rake it to remove any grass or leaves. Long grass will only bother your work.
If you removed the grass it’s important that the soil where the ground is removed is level. You can even buy some playground sand to screed it level so laying the mold on the ground will be easy.
Once path is layed out it’s time to mix concrete
Once the hose/string is secured to the ground with some stakes, mix a bag of ready mix concrete into a wheelbarrow. Ready-mix concrete has aggregate and sand pre-mixed into the Portland.
Put on heavy rubber gloves and mix it in the wheelbarrow with a shovel or rake until it has a dough-like consistency. Don’t add too much water, you don’t need it runny. If you can make a ball of it in your hand it’s good enough to hold its form after you pull the mold out.
Shovel the concrete into the mold
Place your plastic form at the start of your hose form. Press it slightly to the ground. Get a shovel full of concrete and slop it on top of the plastic form. It’s important that the ground is level here so the mold will sit in there nicely.
It’s OK if you spill some concrete outside of the form. Use your hands to press the wet concrete firmly into the form. Make sure there are no voids in the form. You can use a trowel or something else to push it in or a stick to give the concrete slight taps inside the mold so the air can escape.
Slowly pull the form up off the wet concrete. You should shake the form slightly to help it slide away from the concrete intake. If the concrete is correctly mixed with water it will hold its form well. If it doesn’t, remix it with more dry concrete so you can succeed in this project.
If the concrete flops out and sags, then your concrete mix is too wet and you need to add the more ready mix from the bag. You can always put the form back over the concrete and try again (it is a very forgiving project).
Once the form is filled, you can do a variety of finishing techniques:
- You can mound up the concrete over the form to create round stones
- You can use a trowel and create a smooth flat walking surface
- You can use a small hand broom to get a driveway finish
You can try pushing/stamping the concrete with different objects even. One technique I’ve seen few times is pressing leaves and flowers into the wet mix to leave a relief pattern.
Once you are done finishing the first form, simply spin the form around in any direction it will line up in and press it up against the previous pour. Spinning the mold is important if you want to create a random pattern. If it’s a mold with 4 sides, you can spin it 4 times to plan the pattern.
Follow the previous steps and continue along your garden hose/string guide until your sidewalk is done.
Using DIY concrete paver molds is really simple as you can see. The greatest job here is mixing the concrete reality. For that I’d rent or buy a good mortar mixer and mix it on a wheelbarrow or a bucket meant for mixing concrete, those ones are really cheap and it’s easy to transport them.
If you want something more unique, I’d consider mixing latex paint with water and dry concrete or add some pigment powder to the concrete. After or without that, a sealer would be a nice finishing touch to make them look glossy.
You can also experiment with the textures on the surface of pavers if one with finishing trowel or float is too usual for your taste. You can also try imprinting patterns on the wet concrete to give them a more unique look.
After all, the best thing about doing the pavers yourself you get to customize them to your needs.