The term "set in concrete" implies permanence, so installing concrete must be done right the first time. Most homeowners choose concrete installation for sidewalks, driveways, patios, and foundations because it's inexpensive, quick, and the results require little maintenance. Plus, if you don't like its dull-grey color, it can also be stamped and decorated to make it more attractive. Often people hire a licensed concrete contractor for the project since they posses the appropriate equipment and specific knowledge: they know which kind of material is needed, how much is required, how it should be prepared, and they're responsible for delivery, application, and final finishes.
Warning to Do-It-Yourselfers
You could choose to do this project yourself, but installing concrete is a tricky chore. You have to do all your own prep work and calculations, which is half the struggle. Plus, you'll still want the pre-made cement to arrive directly to your home via a delivery company in order to make the job go quicker. And quicker is essential. Once poured, concrete has a time limit before it dries, so make sure you're completely prepared when the cement trucks arrive. Concrete delivery companies may schedule several pours in a row and will charge extra if the driver must wait on a site because it is not ready.
Before installing concrete, the site needs proper preparation. Laying the groundwork is the most important step to concrete installation, so it should be done by a professional who has experience with the pre-planning stage.
First, the soil must be compacted and tamped. It must also be graded and sloped for drainage purposes. Next, the soil must be the right consistency: not too wet (or it won't set) and not too dry (or it'll dry too fast). Then, wooden forms should be constructed and set into place for the pour.
Since cement structures are known for their toughness; they often receive a lot of abuse from vehicles and foot traffic. Therefore, get cement that is air-entrained, which means it contains air bubbles that will contract and expand in order to absorb shock and adapt to extreme weather changes. Also, you'll probably want to reinforce the forms with steel rebar grids in order to increase the strength of the sub-structure. These metal bars are suspended above the soil so the cement can be poured above and below the grid itself.