How Much Does it Cost to Install Concrete Pads?
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Homeowners install concrete pads to create a durable, level and flat surface for a wide variety of purposes. Concrete pads are useful for parking a vehicle, recreational purposes such as a place to play basketball, for setting up a picnic table, as the footer for an outdoor shed and as a place for a heat pump or air conditioner unit to rest upon. Because proper installation of a concrete pad requires considerable preparation before the concrete is poured, this is a project best left to experienced concrete contractors.
- The average minimum cost per square foot for a concrete pad is $1.37.
- The average maximum cost per square foot for a concrete pad is $1.77.
In addition to the cost of the concrete, there are additional expenses associated with the installation of a concrete pad. Where the pad will be located must first be prepared. The preparations include removing the grass and topsoil, leveling the terrain, adding limestone gravel, tamping the gravel, placement of plastic vapor sheets and laying a grid of rebar and wire mesh. The average cost of the additional materials, including the limestone gravel, plastic sheeting, rebar and wire mesh adds an average of $3.44 per finished square foot of concrete pad. The average cost of labor to install a concrete pad is $54.50 per hour. Some cities may require inspections and permits in order to install a concrete pad. The fees associated with the permits and inspections will add to the overall cost of the project.
There are many different sub-types of concrete that can be used to create a concrete pad. The subtypes are based upon the material used as an aggregate. These subtypes include:
- Hydraulic Concrete: This is an ancient mixture still in use today. The aggregates are volcanic ash and clay.
- Stamped Concrete: Plasticizers and colorants are added to the standard concrete mix. A stamper is used to create patterns after pouring. Once hardened, the concrete is sealed to enhance the look and durability of the pad. It is one of the most common subtypes of concrete used for concrete pads. It costs an average of $2.45 per finished square foot due to the added chemicals in the concrete mix.
- Self-Consolidating Concrete: This is the newest subtype of concrete and has polycarboxylates plasticizers that reduce the need for tamping and compaction.
- Shotcrete: This form of concrete includes accelerators to enhance hardening and is ideal for areas that need vertical concrete or concrete around large rock formations. It can also be used to repair a crack in a concrete pad.
- Limecrete: Lime is used instead of cement as the binder. It is able to filter moisture and can withstand humid environments.
- Pervious Concrete: This type of concrete pad is installed with holes or drains so water can pass from the surface into the soil.
- Cellular Concrete: Clay or cork is added as an aggregate to increase the amount of air and decrease the weight of the concrete pad.
- Polymer Concrete: Polymers are added to the cement binder so that a high strength is achieved with a minimum of curing time.
- Recycled Glass Concrete: Recycled glass is used as an aggregate for visual appeal, environmental friendliness and strength of the finished concrete pad. After curing, the surface is sealed to protect the final result.
In addition to coming in a variety of types, concrete is also graded based upon its strength when measured at 28 days after pouring. The strength of concrete is measured this way because it takes approximately 28 days for the material to fully cure and reach its maximum strength. The grades of concrete include:
- Low Strength: This type of concrete is used when the pad must be lightweight. It is not common for driveway use or as a foundation for a structure.
- General Purpose: This is average strength concrete and is the most common type used for pouring concrete pads. It typically has a strength of 3,000 psi.
- High Strength: This type of concrete is the strongest of all and is more expensive than general purpose concrete. It is able to withstand heavier loads and is considered to be the most durable option. It may have a strength of 6,000 psi or higher.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Concrete Pads
Standard concrete is inexpensive to install. It is readily available throughout the country. The ability to mix and pour on-site rather than transporting heavy products adds to the economic advantage of this material. Because concrete requires minimal maintenance and it maintains its strength for decades, it is an economically wise choice for use as a driveway, parking pad or base for a structure. Concrete can be poured or cast into nearly any shape or configuration. The surface can be colored or stamped for added attractiveness. Since it is able to withstand high temperatures, concrete is ideal for a surface that will meet with rubber tires or as an area where people or pets will spend time. Concrete is unlikely to rot, erode, decay or attract pests.
The addition of recycled materials or materials that would otherwise be sent to the landfill makes concrete an environmentally friendly choice for a solid outdoor surface. While these are excellent reasons to choose concrete as a material for creating a solid outdoor surface, there are some disadvantages to concrete pads. Concrete is susceptible to staining from oil leaks and other greasy materials. Infiltration of moisture and the freeze and thaw cycle may cause concrete to crack. An improperly prepared surface or shifting of the soil may also cause cracking in the concrete pad. The weight of concrete is considerable and requires ample preparation of the surface before it can be poured. The long curing time of concrete means that the pad may not be available for use for several weeks after it is poured.
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Last updated on Jan 12, 2017