Replacement of: Concrete Sidewalks, Stairs, Patios, Garage Slabs & Aprons, Driveways

Installing a new concrete sidewalk, garage slab, patio, driveway or concrete stairs at your Chicago property, improves its appeal and value. There could be a few reasons behind installation of a new concrete; you may just need to give your property a dressing, it became hazardous to walk the existing concrete sidewalk or stairs, you have water ponding around the property, you’re changing the layout / landscaping around the property, or maybe you just got a Chicago building code violation ticket.

Bungalow concrete steps installation by EDMAR Corporation MasonryNo matter what the reason is, the procedure of replacing old concrete and or just installing the new one will always be the same: remove old concrete or excavate soil to required depth, prepare base, install forms, pour new concrete.

Let’s dive into the reasons behind concrete replacement and concrete installation procedures a little deeper.

Chicago building code violation

The Chicago building code violation ticket, mentioning concrete related problems at your property, is usually triggered by a poor condition of concrete sidewalks and stairs, such as cracks and displacement that creates safety / trip hazard for pedestrians. Depending on circumstances, leveling of concrete sections may be possible (unfortunately we don’t offer such services at EDMAR, only new concrete installation), however, the majority of cases will require removal of old concrete and installation of a new one.

Do you need new concrete sidewalk and / or stairs? – Not sure if you can handle such project?

Call 1-847-724-5600

All Estimates are Always FREE for home owners.

Concrete Replacement / Installation Redesigning your Landscape and Drainage Issues

Garage concrete apron with drain installation by EDMAR Corporation MasonryBoth of these reasons are often closely related. Just like the house’s foundation, the crucial element of every structure, preparation of concrete base is a must. Skipping this step or skimming it, could be what’s responsible for drainage issues around your property.

After building a house, the soil along the foundation is loose, and needs to saddle on its own or be compacted properly. That has to happen before installation of concrete sidewalks, patios, driveways, or stairs. Ignoring this will cause any new concrete poured along the house perimeter saddle over time, and tilt towards the house.

If you noticed that water starts ponding on top of the sidewalk along the building’s foundation, it means that the process has already begun. The problem is, that ponding water will now accelerate further settlement and it may also penetrate foundation walls, as well as elevate moisture levels in basement or crawlspace areas.

Remember to always grade surfaces around your property in a way that creates positive drainage – away from the foundation.

If you catch this right away, you should consult mudjacking contractor, he might be able to correct the problem without ripping of sunken concrete.

What is Mudjacking? It’s a procedure that involves injecting a mixture of cement and water underneath a sunken concrete section, in order to level it / achieve desired pitch.

If there are already multiple cracks, so you’re dealing with smaller concrete pieces, it’s probably too late for mudjacking, and you’ll be facing complete replacement of compromised concrete.

Hazardous concrete surfaces

Concrete sidewalk installation by EDMAR Corporation Masonry

We are accustomed to walking on flat surfaces, and unless we always pay attention to what’s in front of our feet, it’s easy to trip over even small displacement. The same applies to concrete stairs, they should have uniform size treads and risers.

Assuming they were originally poured keeping uniformity (and complying with building code requirements), cracks and displacement could make some of the risers taller or shorter, which creates trip hazard.

A sidewalk, if still intact / displaced only along expansion joints or seams, can be mudjacked. Other option could be to grind down elevated edges. If it cracked in multiple areas, and shifted along cracks, replacement is the only “clean” solution.


Ready to replace your old, deteriorated Chicago concrete sidewalk?

Concrete steps / stairs replacement is slightly more complicated so we start from flat work.

Chicago concrete replacement procedures

Cold weather in Chicago can be blamed for a multitude of concrete related problems. Freezing temperatures during the winter cause soil to expend and contract. All that movement is transferred to hard surfaces, such as concrete sidewalks, concrete stairs, concrete driveways, concrete patios, etc., causing surface delamination, cracks, and displacement.

How do you control that? Do it “By the Book”

  1. Chicago requires a permit for concrete sidewalk installation so you’ll need to spend a few hours to complete entire process.
  2. Pick a day with good weather, it would be nice if it lasts for at least 48 hours, 60F – 80F is the best temperature to work with concrete.
  3. Make helper arrangements for the new concrete sidewalk installation projects. Concrete is pretty heavy and requires a lot effort to install properly, especially if working on larger sections.
  4. If you’ll be mixing ingredients by yourself, this tip doesn’t apply – Depending on location of the new concrete section, concrete mix delivery truck may or may not be able to pour directly into the concrete forms. If this is the case, you’ll need a wheelbarrow or a couple of them to handle larger projects. Make sure they are strong enough to carry concrete and in a good shape, so they last several runs!
  5. Other than the wheelbarrow, you’ll also need some tools and material to make this project as smooth as possible:

Concrete sidewalk installation tools and materials

Concrete patio installation by EDMAR Corporation Masonry

    • Sledge hammer or jackhammer to demolish old concrete if you’re working on replacement, not just installation of a new concrete sidewalk.
    • Material to shape side walls of the sidewalk – if you need flexibility, for curved sections, 6” hardboard siding panels can be used for that, or just wooden planks for straight runs.
    • Stakes to support the forms, as many as needed to be driven approximately every 3’.
    • Circular saw to cut forms, screws and a screw gun to put the forms together.
    • Shovel for excavation of soil and sod cutter (if you need to remove sod).
    • A hammer to pound stakes into the ground.
    • Wire mesh (and cutting tool) to reinforce concrete sidewalk – this is an extra thing, not required for a residential concrete sidewalk in Chicago, however, it will add extra strength to the sidewalk.
    • Gravel to create 4” thick (after compacting) base for the new concrete sidewalk.
    • Magnesium hand float, edger, iron rake to distribute concrete inside the forms, groover to create at least 1” deep control joints (or ¼ of the concrete thickness), bull float, concrete broom for surface finishing.
    • Protective glasses, gloves, long sleeve shirt and long pants, rubber boots suitable for concrete work – they’ll all get dirty but will protect you from spillage and splashes! Concrete can cause eye / skin irritation, and burns, so be careful!.
    • Spray paint for marking the path if different from original / if creating new one.
    • Hand temper of mechanical compactor – rental places may rent the machine by the day or by the hour, so make sure you do as much advance preparation work as possible at the construction site before picking up the compactor.

Concrete parking pad installation by EDMAR Corporation Masonry

  1. If you’re replacing old, deteriorating concrete sidewalk, you have to calculate how big of a dumpster you’ll need or find a company that will pick it up from you.
  2. If excavating, consider the amount of dirt and grass when ordering the dumpster.
  3. Once you remove the old concrete, check the depth of exposed gravel to make sure you have at least 4” after compacting. If you’d like to keep the new concrete’s finished surface at the same level as the old one, and there is not enough gravel base, you’ll need to remove what’s already in the trench, excavate to require depth and refill with old and additional gravel to get the minimum required 4” of compacted base.
  4. Install the forms and reinforce them with stakes / cut the stakes even with the top of forms. Make sure the forms are projecting 4” above the gravel surface (unless you’d like thicker concrete sidewalk) and are positioned in a way that the finished concrete surface will provide positive drainage, away from the property.
  5. You can use hand temper for compacting soil and gravel in small area, but be prepared for an exhausting work if you have a long stretch of concrete sidewalk or patio. If this is the case, renting a plate compactor totally makes sense. Do a good job, remember, this is the foundation of your concrete slabs – if it fails, the same will happen to the concrete sitting on top of it.
  6. You’ll achieve best compacting results if you do it in layers, so, compact the soil, add 2 inches or so of gravel – compact it, add next 2” and compact it again. Spray / mist some water between the layers to reduce friction, thus making compacting more efficient.
  7. Once you have an evenly compacted gravel surface, if you wish, you can install wire mesh keeping it 3” away from the form surfaces. Unless you used just a single sheet of wire mesh, make sure that the edges of overlapping sections (at least 6”) are jointed together with wires.
  8. All of the above should be done earlier, not 5 minutes before the concrete truck comes in. Make sure you have everything ready, including your helper.
  9. You should order ready mix concrete from a supplier closest to your place, that way you’ll have a fresh mix and more time to work with it. You can use the calculator below to get the required amount, or ask the supplier for recommendation. Don’t forget to order approximately 5% extra to compensate for uneven base surface or accidental spillage.

Concrete Sidewalk Installation Calculator

The concrete calculator below will help you to determine the number of yards of concrete you need in order to pour a sidewalk, slab, patio, footing, column, or post fill-project. It will also provide estimated cost of materials, and calculate the number of pre-mix bags needed, in case you decide to do the mixing yourself.

Concrete Calculator

  1. When ordering concrete, ask them for 6 bag mix 4000PSI concrete (this is what we always use), and to add an air entrainment agent to the mix. It’s a type of surface-active substance, a chemical that includes detergents which help in creating and preserving air bubbles in the mix. The main purpose of air entrainment, especially in climates like ours, with freeze-thaw cycles, is to increase the durability of the hardened concrete, as well its workability before hardening.
  2. Start pouring by first creating “network” of small concrete piles, a few inches tall, and pull up, approximately 2”, the wire mesh off the gravel base, so it is supported by those piles of concrete.
  3. Keep pouring and distributing concrete inside the forms with streel rakes, have your helpers go behind you leveling the surface with a screed board and following immediately with a bull float.


Finishing Newly Poured Concrete Sidewalk

Finishing of the concrete surface takes a lot of practice, it will be fairly easy on small areas, but large surfaces require finesse and making them smooth may not be that easy for inexperienced person.

  1. After working on the concrete sidewalk surface with a bull float, watch for any bleed water appearing on surface. It will eventually disappear, and once it does, hand float the concrete surface with magnesium float, always slightly lifting the leading edge.
  2. Once you are satisfied with your efforts, using the edging tool, take care of all outside corners.
  3. Next, use a groover to create 1” deep control joints, approximately every 5-6 feet apart. This will lower possibility of concrete cracking, and if it does crack, chances are that it will be right under the control joint, making that crack invisible.
  4. Time to add some texture to your new concrete sidewalk surface – put the concrete broom at one edge of the sidewalk and pull it gently across the width and over the parallel edge. Move over and make another pass overlapping the previous one by a few inches.
  5. After completing this step, wait until you can’t make a fingerprint impression on concrete’s surface anymore, and cover your piece of art with plastic.

How to Cure your New Concrete Sidewalk?

Concrete needs to be cured slowly in order to achieve maximum strength, it takes almost one month for the full cure. It doesn’t mean that you can’t walk on it during that time, you can, even one day after completing the work.

  1. For the next few days, keep concrete sidewalk moist by soaking it up with a garden hose. This will slow down curing process and further increase sidewalk strength.
  2. You can remove stakes and forms the day after finishing concrete sidewalk.

Can you Use Ice Melting Agents on Fresh Concrete?

If you’re installing Chicago concrete sidewalk at the end of the year, restrain yourself from using ice and snow melting agents on it for one year. They may weaken the surface and cause delamination. We recommend that you don’t even use the ones that say they can be used. Switch to other stuff that provides traction, like sand, or kitty litter.

How Difficult is Installation of a New Concrete Sidewalk or Stairs in Chicago?

Commercial concrete steps installation by EDMAR Corporation Masonry

It depends on your skills! All of the items above describe each step necessary for a new concrete sidewalk installation, however, there are many little things that can and will go wrong. You have to play it by ear and find solution when it’s required.

There is also experience factor, learning curve – even if you know exactly what to do, but you’ve never done it before, the results may not always be as expected.

1. Can you handle new concrete sidewalk installation?
2. Can you handle new concrete stairs installation?

If you can’t, give us a call, and we’ll provide a FREE, non-obligatory quote for replacement of an old concrete sidewalk or stairs, or for a fresh installation of a concrete sidewalk / stairs at your Chicago property.

Contact our office for a FREE, not obligatory estimate at 1-847-724-5600 or email us to schedule an appointment. An experienced specialist will walk you through the necessary repairs, provide you with a recommendation, and get you on the way to a new concrete sidewalk and / or stairs as fast as possible.

You can also visit our office to schedule an appointment –