Saving Concrete Stakes From Your Foundation Pour

Concrete stakes are essential to just about any foundation project. In fact, they are used on almost all concrete projects that a home owner is likely to encounter. If you recognize the stakes in the image above, then you must have used them before. If you don’t know what they are, allow me to explain. Concrete stakes are used to hold the concrete form boards in place prior to and during a concrete pour. They stay in place until the concrete has hardened enough to remove the forms. At about $5 each, they are not cheap, and an average home foundation can easily use 200 or more of them. Making sure that you are able to get each one out after the pour is well worth the effort, but does not always happen.

If you wonder why the stakes would get left behind, check out the photo below. The way the stakes are installed, they will end up exposed to the concrete when it is poured even though they are placed on the outside of the form. The concrete will flow out from under the form boards and around the stakes and if they are not removed before the concrete hardens, they will become a permanent member of the foundation. The picture below is a bit of an extreme situation as the forms are usually cut more tightly to the ground; however, even a little space for the concrete to flow around the stakes can cause them to stick, forever.

So how do you stop concrete from flowing out from even the smallest holes in the forms? You can waste your time trying to stop it at every little opening as you pour, but you will likely end up losing the battle and also missing the finishing time window for your pour. I have a better way: foam pipe insulation.

This material is designed to go around plumbing lines and it works just as well around concrete stakes. It can be cut with a razor knife and placed in seconds. I cut it tight to the bottom of the form and to the ground. It does not matter how much concrete spills around it as the foam can stay in place (on the outside of the form boards), and I can still pull my stakes out from inside the foam. The image below shows an example of where I needed to support a form board that would float over a widened footing. I had to stake the form board in place, but that meant having a stake right in the middle of the footing. With the scrap foam, I isolated the stake from the footing and still supported the form board. When the pour was complete, I allowed the concrete to harden and then pulled the stake, leaving a small piece of foam in the footer. This foam was tiny compared to the oversize footer and so the strength of that footer was not compromised. Without the $0.99 worth of foam, I would have sacrificed a $6 stake.

No matter what the job, from a small pad to a sidewalk or a house foundation, there is no reason not to take the extra time to protect your stakes from over poured concrete. The tip above is quick, easy, and inexpensive. In all, it is well worth the effort.

8 Responses to Saving Concrete Stakes From Your Foundation Pour

  1. jason Fri, February 13, 2009 at 5:55 pm #

    This article, Saving Concrete Stakes From Your Foundation Pour, present a great time saver but doesn’t seem very sustainable to me. When building a “green” home, I don’t think it makes sense to use petrolium based styrofoam for this end. The idea is great, I just think there must be a better medium for insulating the stakes. Maybe straw stuffed in burlap sleeves? or? Just a thought.

    We all find it easy to slip towards “modern” building materials; we all need to be reminded that a bit of time and effort can save resources. Thanks.


  2. Andrew
    Andrew Tue, February 17, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    I get your point Jason, and I consider the use of some old materials acceptable as long as they serve a purpose that saves other materials deemed more important, in this case steel. A better course of action here would be to use salvaged foam insulation, which is in fact what I mostly use. I did not represent that in my post and that was a mistake which you clearly pointed out. Thanks for that. Such insulation can be hauled off for free from many remodel job sites. Just connect with a plumber and see what they have available. It saves them the dump fees and time and you get a free, recycled material. Some of the foam will not end up in contact with the concrete after all and you can always reuse it again. Thanks for staying on the side of Green!

  3. Doug Mon, February 23, 2009 at 11:48 am #

    I was thinking you could wrap newspaper around it, or recycle one of those grocery bags, but I’d hate for the termites to find old paper to chew through.
    Of course if paper is wrapped in a plastic grocery bag or Tyvec you could probably pull most of it out.
    Easier would be to remember to pull the stakes before the concrete sets.

  4. Company Wed, March 11, 2009 at 11:33 pm #

    You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.

  5. Duboisi Sat, December 26, 2009 at 1:02 pm #


    Just got to think of a possible and simple solution.

    Cores from toilet paper and such, with a little McGyver tape and a litte time.

    I would not be too concerned about termites within the concrete, as there would be no harm. But it should be easy to avoid if it’s possible to put some salt in there without hurting the concrete. But then again it’s probarbly most natural to pour some concrete into the remainding hole it it’s in the basement.

  6. bobb Mon, March 29, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    when masons pour concrete in wooden forms , they oil the forms first…couldnt you oil the exposed part of the stake?

  7. Andrew Morrison Tue, March 30, 2010 at 11:03 am #

    Yes indeed and that does help; however, I’ve found that the stakes still get stuck. Keep in mind these babies are pounded into the dirt really hard, locked in place, and then concrete gets poured around them. You could certainly limit the foam cuts to only those in serious risk of getting stuck and then oil the rest. Good point and a reasonable time saver for many conditions.

  8. Kelly E. Weiss Mon, September 27, 2010 at 5:28 am #

    I always try to recycle my rubbish conscientiously but it’s occasionally depressing when I discover just what the rest of the world is doing to this planet!

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