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Help! concrete slab with wood inlay??

May 14, 2019
Hi! I need your help, please!! I bought my house a couple of years ago and have not made it a priority to fix the patio… I have a covered patio and the previous homeowner only put concrete on half of it, I’m not really sure why. But half of the patio is concrete and the other half is about 18 inches down (so they are uneven) and in this section there is a mix of dirt, concrete blocks/pavers and some railroad ties (with the rebar still sticking out). I am looking to extend the patio so that all of the covered area is the same height and a solid surface. I am currently unemployed so, unfortunately, hiring a professional is out of the question but it is quickly becoming necessary to fix this issue because my toddler keeps (almost) hurting himself and it’s only a matter of time. I have some old wood around the house from previous building projects so what I’m really wanting to do is figure out if I can save some money on concrete by using the wood as large inlays in the concrete. I have looked all over for information on how to do this, if it’s even possible and can’t find the answers I’m looking for. I’ve done quite a bit with wood but I’m no expert and I’ve never attempted anything with concrete so this will be a first for me.

Comments (6)

  • kudzu9

    You will save very little in concrete costs by using the wood, and you will end up with something that will probably not be structurally sound and deteriorate over time. The standard fix, if you didn't have money constraints, would be to raise the lower level with compacted fill and gravel/rock to a level about 4" below the present patio, and then pour a slab reinforced with rebar to level everything out. There are all kinds of videos on YouTube that show how to do all this. This is work you can do yourself, and the costs will be:

    1. Clean fill (sometimes people need a place to dump excess dirt from another project)

    2. At least a 2" bed of gravel/rock, which will be cheapest delivered, not bought in bags.

    3. Compactor rental.

    4. Reinforced wooden formwork around the perimeter.

    5. Rebar or reinforcing mesh.

    6. The cement you need to have trucked (and possibly pumped) to the location. You will not save money mixing bags of concrete yourself for this project.

    If you can't afford this, make the area less dangerous, at least:

    1. Cut off all the rebar with a grinder or, preferably, get rid of the railroad ties completely.

    2. Level the area as well as you can with free, clean fill dirt.

    3. If the two areas are still at different levels, put up a cheap fence to keep your toddler from falling off the edge.

  • PRO

    Bungee cord the kid to a fixed point if he keeps getting out of your grasp. Or lock the doors. Even the materials to fix that are going to be a couple of thousand. Not hundred. Thousand.

    In this economy, the only people not working are the ones afraid to get dirty. Plumbers, electricians, framers, tilers, drywallers, HVAC companies, welders, machinists, and everyone else are screaming for good help. You'll start off well above minimum wage, and be taught a career that will feed your family. Make it happen.

  • snowconey
    Thank you Kudzu9 for the helpful information concerning my project. That definitely gives me some direction and a good place to start... and now I know for sure that the wood is a bad idea!

    Greendesigns, I appreciate your suggestion and motivational advice (?). There are extenuating circumstances that I am working to overcome. But your input is duly noted.
  • queenvictorian

    Cheapest option would be to mitigate the danger like kudzu mentioned - fill in as much as you can with woodchips/mulch/dirt. Then if kiddo runs off the edge he'll be fine and quickly learn to not do it again because getting a face full of dirt isn't pleasant. And/or get a couple sections of cheap porch railing or something.

  • Jill Stretz

    How absurd that I have a similar area in my yard...not as dangerous but no idea what these cracked ,uneven, pieces of concrete were for except to make a giant puddle after the rain. I started digging them up and found that everything under the sun was buried under almost the entire yard. Every project is an adventure. No drainage, rusty nails, toys, sinkhole which was a turn of the century cesspool which was huge. Our soil is clay and nothing drains. We have a super sump pump but basement is always wet. We are the lowest property on the block. All my grass died from lack of drainage and too much rain. Now I have a mawn instead of a lawn with 3 dogs. I am almost suicidal! The only thing that works is my garden from years of dirt and mulch being added. Time for help!!

    It is actually worse now and guess what? It is raining again!!

  • toxcrusadr

    Sounds like you're going to have to tackle it one step at a time. First you'll need a plan to figure out what steps are first!

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