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How to Form a Custom Concrete Pier for a Porch

comments (0) July 21st, 2011 in Blogs
ScottG Scott Gibson, contributing writer

Forming concrete piers for a porch or deck typically amounts to digging holes, dropping in Sonotubes, and placing the concrete.

But for aesthetic reasons, Jake wants the new piers for his porch to be 12 in. by 16 in. with 19 in. above grade, and that means Sonotubes won’t work.

The old block footings, too shallow to begin with, have been dug out, so Jake can’t use new, clean-sided holes as part of the forms. He could use block, but Jake is no mason and doesn’t want to start learning now.

“So my question is this,” he says in a Breaktime post, “How should a form be framFirst, build a plywood box, screws about every six inches or so.  Then the horizontal walers: 2 x 4's on edge, screwed to the plywooded for a 5-ft. pier?”

He’s mulling the use of 3/4-in. plywood and framing lumber, but looks for guidance on the specifics of making the form.

A heavy-duty proposal

Yersmay1 has been down this road before and suggests plywood forms wrapped with bands of 2x4s set on edge, and then braced on the sides with additional framing material. The 2x4 reinforcements that encircle the forms, called walers, are pinned at the corners.

“Pay particular attention to having a kicker at the bottom of your pier,” he adds, “because that is where you’ll be more likely to have a blow out. All sides of the form need to have kickers. The kickers need to be staked off into the ground solidly or somehow wedged against something that makes things completely stable.”



Other tips: consolidate the concrete as it’s placed, oil the forms to make them easier to remove, and make sure the very bottom edge of the form isn’t trapped in concrete.

But, he adds, the holes will have to be large enough to provide access for taking the forms apart. “This sounds like an awful lot of labor,” Yersmay1 writes. Have you calculated labor costs and how they would contrast to simply filling your existing holes with concrete and then forming up once you’re above grade?”


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