A concrete porch or patio should be sturdy, safe and durable. Special concrete paints, unique finishing techniques and the availability of stone and brick veneers allow you to add personality and character to any basic concrete patio. With a few simple tools and a weekend or two to spend on the labor, you can build a concrete porch without the expense and aggravation of hiring a team to do the job.
Prepare the area by clearing away any large debris such as tree stumps, branches, bushes and large rocks. Check to make sure there are no rodents' nests or other animal life in the area. Level out the ground by adding or removing soil as needed using a shovel and a flat dirt rake. A layer of gravel may be added to help level out the ground and add drainage.
Mark the placement of the new porch structure with spray paint or by driving wooden stakes in the ground at each corner of the porch area. Frame out the entire area of the porch by building a concrete form out of 2 x 6 inch wooden boards. Use a saw to cut the wood to length, and secure the pieces together with a hammer and nails. Be sure the boards are nailed securely, and use a level to check that the construction is plumb as you build. Provide extra support for the outer edge of the concrete form by driving extra stakes along the perimeter. Check the concrete form for levelness.
Spread out a layer of gravel approximately 3 inches high inside the concrete form. Use a rake to scatter the gravel evenly and make sure it is distributed in an even, smooth layer. Tamp the gravel down with a hand tamper or the flat edge of a shovel. Put down a layer of wire reinforcing mesh on top of the gravel.
Mix the concrete by hand or in a mixing truck for large porches. Pour it into the form while making sure to move quickly and keeping the concrete in motion to prevent it from setting prematurely. Make sure the concrete is poured evenly into the form, and spread it out as it is poured.
Smooth out the top of the concrete with a flat trowel to make it level. As the concrete begins to harden and develops stability, it can be brushed or textured as desired.
Dismantle the concrete form carefully once the concrete has cured. Use the hand saw to cut through the wood, or pry the boards apart with either a crowbar or the claw end of the hammer. The concrete may take up to a week to fully cure. Following that time period, it can be painted or polished. Stone or brick veneers may also be added for a greater design element.