How to Make Concrete Pavers | DIY CONCRETE PATIO PROJECT
Let’s go one step further in decorating your outdoor patios with some DIY custom concrete pavers!
Today we’re going to make custom concrete pavers for your patios, this project is very low cost and also low maintenance. We’re not going to make just any usual pavers but instead, this project will also include integrated planters so you can weave in vegetation into the concrete. The pattern we will follow simply comprises 2 different diamond shapes that when combined make a pentagon, further 4 these pentagons make a hexagon and so on. By tinting the pavers different colours, we can use this one system to create unlimited combinations.
But we’re going to use the 3 basic shapes shown below, draw these in illustrator and export them as SVG files.
Firstly, we’re going to start by making MDF positive prototypes of the different pieces in the system. We will be using a CNC system, the shaper origin is a handheld CNC system that uses domino looking tape to superimpose a digital file and in our case, the illustrator drawings we did onto the working surface, the onboard cameras and a screen will allow you to scan in the particular layout of the domino tape so that machine knows exactly where it is at all times. Now, import the SVG files and place the design onto this virtual workspace and now you’re to cut. The machine will let you decide whether you want to cut inside or outside the line. We’re going to cut through ¾ inch MDF and ¾ inch deep passes. You just have to look at the screen and move the machine exactly where it tells you to go.
Once you complete the first pass, go back over the lines but this time with depth set to half an inch, and for the third and final pass set the depth just slightly over ¾’s of an inch. Once our frames are ready, we want the pavers to be 2 and ¼ inches thick so stack 3 layers of the ¾ inch MDF and glue them together firmly. These 3 doughnut-shaped ones will make the base for the planters, the top of the planter paver base will have a recess that will allow you to stick these planter pieces together.
Use some finish screws and glue to fasten the rings in place, then use some bond all-purpose putty to cover up the screw heads. Once the glue is fully cured use an orbital sander to sand down the edges for a nice and smooth finish. We want the pavers to be comfortable for bare feet to walk on so using a palm router to give the top of the pavers an 8th of an inch radius will help. In addition to the Pentagon, you’ll also have to make the smaller 4 sided diamond shapes.
After wiping away all the sawdust, apple 3 coats Varathane water-based polyurethane to seal the pavers, do a little light sanding after every coat.
Now, we need to build mould around them in order to pour the silicon, you can use quarter-inch thick whiteboard strips, a hot glue gun and some 2x4s pieces as support for this purpose. Mix some mould star 30 and pour it into the moulds very carefully. After letting it cure for a few hours, peel away all the hot glue and remove the pieces of the whiteboard to get the mould out.
Just to be safe use some scrap pieces of plywood and 2x2s to make some stop blocks around the silicon moulds to keep the silicon walls from bending out while pouring in the concrete. Screw these down around the silicon moulds and mix and pour some concrete and start scooping it into the moulds. Shake out and tap the moulds to avoid any air bubbles. After letting it cure for 24 hours pop them out of the mould, and continue the entire process for the next batch of pavers. Once all the pieces are ready you can place or stack them however you want, and fill them up with succulents. You can accumulate more pavers by pouring concrete into the moulds every single day and lay them out in whatever layout you think will look the best. The pavers fit together perfectly.
- Additional note:
You can follow this slow and steady approach where you work on a small batch every day and don’t want to be overwhelmed by making all the pavers at once. But if you want to cover a really large area it will probably make more sense to make way more of the silicon moulds in order to make bigger batches at a time.
You don’t necessarily need a CNC for this project although it makes the pavers a bit more precise, you could use a circular saw on a straight edge to create similar geometries.
Hope you enjoyed making this project!
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