Concrete Project Tips

IMG_1433Step 1: Site Preparation & Planning

  1. Sub grade must be compacted and free of standing water.
  2. Forms must be secure and capable of withstanding load pressure of fresh concrete
  3. Arrange enough help to place and finish concrete.
    • Start with a minimum of 2 people for a 1 cubic yard pour.
    • If you are using wheelbarrows to move the concrete from the trailer to the forms, add an additional person.
  4. Assign specific responsibilities to helpers before concrete arrives.
  5. Provide acceptable access for delivery:
    • Pathway must be at least 8 feet wide.
    • Avoid bringing trailers over curbs, sidewalks, and driveways.
  6. Determine what type of control joints will be used to control cracking; either hand tooled or saw cut.
  7. TIPS:
    • Concrete used for most residential applications should be at least 4 inches thick.
    • Control joints should be placed no more than 10 feet apart.
    • Sections should be square or nearly square.
    • The joint depth should be at least ¼ the thickness of the concrete.
    • Avoid creating triangles or odd shaped panels when placing joints.

Step 2: Placement

  1. Concrete must be discharged in a timely manner upon arriving to the job site.
    • If you are using wheelbarrows to move the concrete from the trailer to the forms, make sure you have enough help to finish the project quickly.
  2. During the placement process, follow these easy steps:
    • “Screed” the concrete to the proper elevation or form height with a straight piece of wood (2”x4” works fine).
    • Immediately after “screeding” off the concrete, it must be bull floated and the edges formed with an edger.
    • After bull floating, don’t try to broom finish the concrete until the surface water has completely evaporated. You’ll know when it’s ready because it will hold your weight and not make an impression in the surface.
    • Concrete will be glossy when surface water is present and will dull when it evaporates.

Step 3: Finishing

Finishing is the process of texturing the concrete. If you are using hand-tooled control joints, these must be completed prior to final texturing. An example of a few of the textures that may be used:

  • A BROOM or brush finish is recommended for exterior applications that require maximum skid resistance such as sidewalks and driveways. To achieve a broom finish; simply push or pull the concrete broom across the concrete when it reaches the desired consistency; timing is a judgment call based on desired depth of broom texture.
  • A TROWEL finish is recommended for exterior applications that require minimal skid resistance such as patios and porches. To achieve a trowel finish; trowel the concrete when it reaches a consistency that supports your weight but leaves footprints approximately ¼ inch deep.

Step 4: Curing

Curing is the most important step in concrete placement, yet is typically the most neglected.

  • To ensure that concrete reaches its maximum designed strength and durability, it must be properly cured.
  • This process must begin as soon as the concrete will accept the process without damage to the surface.
  • The simplest way to cure your project is to keep the surface damp for 5 days by wetting the surface morning and night, then covering with a concrete blanket. Another way is to spray concrete with a curing compound (no blanket or wetting required).