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What is a concrete sidewalk?

Concrete sidewalks are surfaces made mainly of cement, sand, and gravel that provide a pedestrian path at the edges of streets, roads, and urban areas. Concrete offers versatility, malleability, low cost, fast setting, and resistance to the elements; this makes it the preferred material for building sidewalks.

How is a concrete sidewalk built?

The process of paving with concrete can have variations; usually, though, when it comes to making sidewalks out of this material, the following procedure is usually used:

After doing the planning and permission management, the ground is prepared: it is flattened, and obstacles like stones or other removable materials that may hinder construction are removed. 

Subsequently, the sidewalk’s desired height and width are measured and laid out, and stakes to which guidelines are attached are driven. Normally, the guide attached to the vehicular roadway typically has a slightly lower height than its counterpart to ensure an inclination that’s imperceptible for pedestrians but enough to encourage water to run toward the drains when it rains.

The next step is usually placing the curbs, forms, and structures that will be used to make the concrete formwork.

This is usually followed by a layer of granular base, which can consist of sand or gravel. The base helps provide stability and proper drainage for the sidewalk. At this stage, it is also possible to place a welded mesh for reinforced concrete reinforcements, which will offer greater resistance to the mixture. When the concrete is poured, it is important for the mesh not to go to the bottom and be in contact with the ground, as this can lead to deterioration due to the effect of soil moisture.

Once the ground and the formwork have been prepared, the concrete is poured and spread evenly. Next, rulers and trowels are used to level and smooth the surface. Then, the expansion joints are marked; these allow the concrete to expand and contract freely in response to temperature changes. This will prevent the sidewalk from cracking. At this point, a utensil can be used over the entire surface, which is still fresh, to scrape it and make it less slippery.

When the concrete has reached a certain strength, the expansion joints are cut using a concrete saw.

Finally, the concrete must finish curing until it reaches its maximum hardness.

This is the entire procedure for building sidewalks with an entirely concrete finish. However, this material is also often used to build sidewalks with other top layers, like cobblestones. Similarly, concrete sidewalks may have podotactile tiles in certain areas for people with visual difficulties or other decorations, textures, or colors, depending on the need of the project at hand.

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