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  Concrete Patio Questions/Thoughts
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Project: a concrete 32x21 (21 feet away from the house) backyard patio. The concrete would be put flush against the back of the house--NO small garden area.

We soon will be laying a concrete patio in our backyard. We have an attached garage and the side of the garage will be directly next to (to the right of) our patio. Two contractors have said that the slope of the concrete should go away from the house and curve to the left—away from the garage. Does that sound right? Or should it slope 180 degrees away from the house (not away from the garage)? I have read different things about this.

Our backyard has a fairly steep bank, which means water will be coming down the hill onto the patio area. We plan on cement steps going from the patio to the upper area of our property (back yard). The contractor says that the steps will act as a retaining wall for some of the bank, but we still will need a retaining wall back there.

Regarding the French Drain: one contractor says it should align the back side of the patio where the bank is, BUT if the water is being sloped away from the house but to the left, does that make sense?

One contractor said we may have water issues coming in the house and that a drain should be used next to the back of the house since we plan on having the concrete flush next to the structure--BUT if the concrete is properly sloped, why would that be needed?

Anyway, our budget calls for a concrete patio, and then we plan on painting the slab later, adding an above ground hot tub, and outdoor fireplace/firepit somewhere too.

The cement, French Drain, and labor = $4500.
We really can’t go much beyond that. The concrete steps would be put in soon—before November.

Any ideas or thoughts? Design pattern of the slab? We were thinking a traditional rectangle.


This message has been edited. Last edited by: dale001,
Posts: 1 | Registered: Sep 01, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of conrad
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I cannot speak to the french drain issue, no experience there.
But my experience with established, experienced and recommended concrete companies is that they tend to know their stuff as to where to slope in order to shed rain water. (They are even good people to hire for advice, if you are not putting in concrete, but want to create a swale of turf/earth.)

I am also really encouraging you to find a way to create a curve or curved edges to your patio, rather than just a rectangle. It just looks a lot nicer and more interesting in a landscape. Usually does not cost any more than straight, but not sure with your retaining wall issue?
Posts: 9663 | Location: Plains & Mountains | Registered: Jun 08, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Loonie
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The contractor, if he is licensed to work with concrete, must be believed he knows what he is talking about when he advises how drainage should be met.

A caution should be followed though. Ask your contractor what other jobs he has done and then go look at the project; talk to the people and ask whether they have any issues about the work.

Get more than one estimate....two might suffice...but three is more likely to remove any anxiety on your part.

You don't say where you reside. If you live in a zone that has a winter of snow and ice, do get some other advice about using concrete for your patio.
Will there be any issues of water gaining entry under or around it. Not even concrete, can stand up to a freezing winter that has water to contend with.
Why you don't see many concrete driveways in northern zones.

Painting concrete too should be carefully done...and it must be done after a time the concrete cures to its limit.
Paint, looks terrible when it flakes on cement because the application was done with the wrong type and the wrong time.

The concrete patio, will, of course, have --I don't know the exact word....but stops so that winter cold, and summer heat, wont cause cracking when the concrete moves---and it will move.
Again...why bridges have zippers.

I'm guessing though, you live in a southern clime, where the sun shines most of the time and the clean look of concrete pleases your idea of a patio.

Don't be pressured to get the job done quickly just because summer is almost over. The patio has to please you for a long, long time.
Posts: 458 | Registered: Mar 22, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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There are a lot of things going on with this question. Which direction should you slope your concrete? Where should I put a drain tile? Do you need a retaining wall? What size/pattern should I use?

Not sure which state you live in, but in California, the law requires that each homeowner is responsible for the water on his property. What this means is that you cannot design a drain system or backyard that drains towards your neighbors property. Taking that into consideration, water will always flow to the lowest points on a property, so it is important that you devise your drain system and patio so that it flows away from all inhabitable structures and is kept onto your property only.If necessary, a drain tile can be placed next to the house, but most likely will not be needed if the slope is correctly pitched away from the house.

A retaining wall will help prevent mud and run-off from the hillside from running onto your newly poured concrete. Depending on the height of the wall, it might be necessary to consult with an engineer and get it properly designed.

Most states require a permit and engineering on walls over 3 feet tall. Consult your local building department for your local codes.

The size of your patio and pattern is difficult to offer suggestions. The best way to figure this out is to lay out your patio before you start construction. Purchase a can of upside down paint and mark out the outline of your patio. Next add your tables, chairs, lounges, heaters, BBQ, Fire pit, lights etc. Is your area crowded? When you have a party will people be bumping into each other or will they have to walk on the grass to get around? When you’re sitting at your table, what is your view? Is the patio facing in the right direction?

Have you considered a paver patio? This is an option that you can do yourself with some general knowledge and a good instruction video. This way, if you need to increase your patio size you can easily do it, AND it will also help with the drainage issues.

Finally, if you do hire a concrete contractor, make sure they are licensed and bonded and carry the correct insurances. Most states have a website that will let you know if a contractor’s license is valid and if they are paid up on their worker's compensation insurance. A good qualified contractor will know exactly how and where to slope the patio so that water flows away from all important structures. Make sure this is addressed in the contract, so that if there are any problems, you have recourse.

Good Luck with your project!
Posts: 2 | Location: Sacramento, CA | Registered: Feb 22, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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