Winter came late this year. As the weeks were passing and the weather was still warm, we decided to tackle a bit more of the deck — pouring the footers.
We checked our weather apps and found that we had a few weeks of above 40-degree days. Our research said that you could pour concrete footers until it dropped down to 30 degrees. So on the first Saturday in December (which also happened to be my birthday), we decided to move forward with pouring the footers.
Our first step was to measure and mark the locations of each footer. We found an excellent tutorial on YouTube by This Old House. (The portion on measuring starts at 4:24.) People have been amazed at what we have learned to do through YouTube.
We then started digging. Dutchess County has clay and rock soil which means we needed heavy equipment to dig the seven four-foot holes required by local code. Once we got started, it took between 30 minutes and an hour to dig each hole – depending on how much rock we encountered.
Yes, that’s me running the Bobcat – it was my birthday after all.
What a mess, but what fun. As we worked our way around digging, we found that we quickly destroyed our markings for where each post had to go. We would re-measure and re-align equipment after digging each hole.
We had to wait until a weekday to proceed with pouring the concrete because the town had to inspect our holes. Once we got the “ok to pour,” we did. Home Depot and Lowes both sell concrete forms and these big black bases.
Each form and base tells you how many bags of concrete it requires. For our seven footers, we needed a total of 60 bags on concrete. We borrowed a friend’s concrete mixer and began mixing and pouring.
This was when things got real messy and became not so much fun. Rain moved in to our area. Our yard, which had been torn up by the heavy equipment, became a slippery, muddy swamp. When we weren’t sliding and falling, the mud would swallow up our shoes. And our 40-degree weather suddenly started disappearing. We had two days before 20-degree weather would show up making it impossible to pour concrete without renting expensive heaters and blankets. Since concrete needs to cure for 24 hours before freezing weather, we had one day to complete the pour.
The rain and wet ground also meant we couldn’t bury the cardboard forms until we were ready to pour. The cardboard would collapse after soaking up water if they were left buried in the ground without being filled. This meant we spent all day and night setting the forms, filling in the dirt/heavy mud around them, and mixing and pouring the concrete. We poured our last footer in freezing rain at 9 pm. Clean up then lasted until 10 pm as we picked up tools. We covered the footers with leftover insulation, old blankets and plastic to keep them warm while they cured overnight.
We left everything covered for a couple of weeks until we realized we had creatures using our plastic and blankets to keep warm.
Uncovered, the footers look great and will be ready to use as the foundation of our new deck.