Why you shouldn’t DIY your decorative concrete patio

So you’ve made the decision to make upgrades to your outdoor space. You look around and imagine what it will look like when you’re done with all of the improvements and look forward to the Spring and Summer months when people will be relaxing in your backyard as delicious food is placed on the table for all to enjoy.

As a savvy homeowner you may be inclined to do a lot of the work yourself.  And, that is a great way to reduce the overall cost of a backyard makeover.  Not only this, but you will be able to customize the upgrades to your exact specifications. And, if you have kids, many of these projects are great to do as a family.

The first thing that can be done is to clear out and clean out the backyard.  This means trimming trees and hedges, removing dead leaves and branches, pulling weeds and basically getting rid of any unwanted items.  The best thing about this is you can call a local junk removal company to haul all of the yard waste away so that you can easily move on to the next phase of your project.

The next priority is usually to plan and build the main outdoor living area.  The patio is usually the centerpiece of the backyard because it is where people will gather and spend time. If you’ve decided to build out a concrete patio, especially one that is created with decorative concrete, this is a component of the project you should leave to a professional.

It’s important to realize that the number of options you have when it comes to decorative concrete are almost unlimited.  From different colors, to different patterns and textures, you really can create a patio to fit your design needs.

However, as tempting as it may be to try to do it on your own, it’s important to understand the risks and the drawback to this.  For starters, a concrete contractor already has all of the tools available to mix and install concrete.  On top of that, they also already have the supplies and tools to mix any colors, and create textures and designs once the concrete is poured.

On the other hand, if you attempt to do this on your own, you would have to buy each of those tools and supplies on your own, which would be a high cost for just one project.  Especially since this would more than likely be the only decorative concrete patio project you would do.

But, aside from the cost of the tools and supplies, it is important to understand the potential for making an error during the installation process.  Installing concrete is a multi-step process that requires precision and good timing. Oftentimes, do-it-yourselfers make common errors that end up with long term consequences for the durability of the concrete they installed.

A common mistake is not using the correct amount of water when mixing the cement.  Most DIYers add too much water because they see it’s easier to work with loose concrete than thicker concrete mix.  However, this compromises the durability of your concrete and you may end up with cracks and chips.  Another common mistake is not installing forms correctly.  Forms give shape to your concrete and help ensure they are poured evenly and don’t spill over.  Imperfect forms can cause the concrete to be uneven, causing water to pool or causing a tripping hazard.  Lastly, forgetting to finish the surface of your concrete patio can lead to a super-slick and slippery surface, which can be a recipe for disaster, especially if the surface becomes wet.

When you consider all the ways concrete as a diy project can go wrong and you add the decorative concrete component you just add another layer of complexity.

A common mistake when it comes to stamped concrete is that a DIYer will pour a large slab and not be able to stamp out the surface before it becomes too solid to work with.  A professional concrete company will understand how much to pour to ensure all areas are stamped evenly and that the right timing and consistency is maintained throughout the area.

Another common mistake is expecting there to be no color variation on the surface of the concrete.  Because concrete is an organic substance, it interacts with the color mixes in different ways.  What results is color variation throughout the surface.  The same happens with non colored concrete, but may be more noticeable with decorative concrete.

While so many components of your backyard re-do can be done on your own, it’s important to hire a professional to install the centerpiece of your backyard design; your patio.