Easy to Use Guide For Sidewalk Construction

What factors should be considered when installing a new sidewalk or replacing a walkway?

There are a lot of ways to design a walkway. Determining the sidewalk width and primary use should be the principal focus during the planning stage. The more you think about the vision of the walkway, the better the outcome of the project will be. Here are some questions to ask yourself before beginning:


  • Will people use it while walking side-by-side?
  • Will children be using it to play and ride bikes on?
  • What kind of traffic will it potentially be seeing?
  • How visible is the intended area?
  • Are there points of interest along the walkway such as a garden?

Concrete walkways or sidewalks are more than just a way to get wherever it is you’re going—they can provide much-needed curb appeal to homes and buildings, and they are fast becoming a point of artistic expression with several decorative concrete options. Talk to your concrete contracting company to see what they offer and what the pricing is.

Boy Running On Sidewalk Against Sky
Residential sidewalk in a development.

What is the standard width of a front walkway?

How wide should a front sidewalk be? While site constraints often determine the width of your front walkway, ideally a front sidewalk at the street should be no less than 4 feet wide at its narrowest and no wider than 6 feet. At 4 feet, two people can walk side by side or pass each other comfortably.

Average human shoulder width is 18 inches. Allowing an extra 6 inches, the walk should be a minimum of 24 inches wide for one person. A Two Person Pedestrian Path is what it sounds like—a path where two people can walk in the same direction or different directions without bumping into one another.

Auxiliary walkways around your home.

Auxiliary walkways are designed to fit one person. Therefore, 24″ is all that you need. We usually bump these up to 36″-48 because this seems too narrow in some situations.

Concrete being poured from a mixer truck into a concrete with sidewalk
Concrete sidewalk with expansion and control joints.

Sidewalk expansions and control joints.

Expanding joints should be placed at 16-foot intervals to not more than 20 feet. Control joints should be placed at 4-5 feet distance. Before concrete can be poured, expansion joints are installed.

To allow the slab to move freely and not place stress on any other structures it is attached to, expansion joints are used. These joints are located where slabs meet buildings, slabs meet another slab, or where coping meets pool deck.

Control joints allow for movement due to temperature changes or drying shrinkage. You want to be involved in the decision making process for concrete cracks. Concrete should crack in a straight line, not randomly.

What's the best thickness for a sidewalk?

A standard concrete sidewalk thickness is four inches. The main factor that determines the thickness of your sidewalk is its purpose. The typical sidewalk provides a solid, smooth surface that is suitable for pedestrians as well as light-weight wheels like handcarts and bicycles.

Most likely, your concrete contractor will use 2×4 lumber for the construction of the forms. This will give you the required thickness.

Except where automobile driveways cross them, sidewalks must be at minimum four inches thick. Residential driveways require sidewalks to be at least six inches thick.

Concrete being poured from a mixer truck into a concrete with sidewalk
Concrete being poured into a form for a sidewalk.

Guidelines for concrete walkway construction materials.

All sidewalks and driveways in residential areas should be made of concrete with a minimum 3500 to 4000 PSI. This is a mixture of 3/4 mix of sandstone, cement, and air, as well as 6 to 7% of air.

Subgrades must be built true to grade so that concrete has an even thickness. The subsoil (or grade) should be compacted to approximately 90 percent density and then wet down before concrete placement. For a more economical option, crushed 3/4″ stone can be used as a subbase.

Concrete exposed to freezing or cold weather conditions will need air entrained concrete. Concrete with air entrained contains millions of microscopic air cells in each cubic foot. These air pockets reduce internal pressure by providing small chambers for water to expand when it freezes. Keep concrete from scaling or spalling at the surface.

Sidewalks and slopes.

Primary residential walkways should not be more than 2% sloped unless they are designed for wheelchair accessibility. A slope of more than 2% can cause injury if it is covered with ice. An auxiliary walkway can have slopes as high as 5%. However, if the walkway is used frequently, you might consider adding steps to prevent ice from becoming a problem.

To ensure drainage, all walkways must have some slope. How can you tell if your walkway has a slope greater than 2%? A drop of 2% over 10 feet is equal to 2.4 inches. Your walkway should drop more than 2.4 inches in 10 feet. It is still a good idea to keep your walkway at 1/4 inch per foot.

Steps should be used if your slope is more than 2%. Steps should be used at the same height. We recommend a height of 6 to 7 inches, and we consider anything below 4 inches dangerous.

tree roots lifting a sidewalk
tree growing into sidewalk

Tree removal for sidewalk construction.

If trees are found within the sidewalk area, they should be removed before sidewalk installation. Tree roots can cause sidewalk lift, which could lead to tripping hazards.

For trees over 20 feet in height, it is a good rule to keep a tree trunk at least 4-6 feet from a sidewalk.

What width is an ADA sidewalk?

For ADA compliance the minimum sidewalk width must be 36 inches (3 feet), but sidewalks can be larger. Passing spaces must be created every 200 feet for sidewalks less than 60 inches (5 ft) in width.

Are ADA ramps required at the curb?

The ADA requires curb ramps or ramps to be placed along accessible routes in public areas, where there is a greater than 1/2 inch change in height. To find out the rules for ADA sidewalk ramps, it is best to consult your township.

stamped concrete sidewalk

Other decorative and alternative sidewalk finishes.

Standard gray concrete is most commonly used, but there are many decorative concrete options that can spice up your sidewalk, making it look dramatic.

  • Stamped Concrete

Stamped concrete is the most common decorative surface treatment for concrete walkways.

  • Stenciled Concrete

While it is a more affordable alternative to decorative stamping, stenciling offers similar design flexibility.

  • Exposed Aggregate

This colorful pebble-like finish is often used on sidewalks for its beauty and slip-resistant walking surface.

  • Decorative Concrete Scoring and Saw Cutting

Concrete saws and hand tools can create permanent patterns in a sidewalk or walkway surface.

  • Colored Concrete

You don’t have to stick with a plain grey concrete walkway. There are many choices for installing permanent colors in cement. The simplest and most affordable way to beautify a sidewalk is by coloring it.

Conclusion: Residential Sidewalk Construction

Conclusion paragraph: While the principles we’ve outlined are certainly not exhaustive, following them should give you a good foundation for constructing quality concrete sidewalks. If you have any questions or would like a free quote from our team of concrete experts at Atlantic County Home, don’t hesitate to reach out. We would be happy to help!

Concrete Contractors Service Area in Atlantic County, NJ

Atlantic City
Corbin City
Egg Harbor Township
Estell Manor

Galloway Township
Hamilton Township
Hammonton Township
Margate City

Port Republic
Somers Point
Ventnor City

Get a FREE Concrete Service Quote
Get a Fast, Friendly and FREE Quote Today! Please fill out the form with as much detail as you can, so we can help you. To talk to someone now, please call 856-214-2710. (8am-6pm M-F)

Leave a Reply