If you want to know how to pour concrete by yourself this guide will give you each step you need to know. Pouring concrete slabs and floors is what I do every day.
I'm not going to lie to you and tell you it's easy, it's hard work. But I think you can do it if your slab or walkway isn't to big and you follow these steps.
I do recommend hiring a professional concrete contractor if you need your concrete very level and very smooth. This is a skilled trade and takes some time to learn.
If you need to know about how to form and prepare your slab to pour, click on concrete slab and follow those steps first then come back here.
STEP 1. Your first step to learning how to pour concrete is to make sure you have the right clothing. Prolonged contact with concrete will burn your skin. Wear rubber boots, gloves, safety glasses, long pants and a long sleeve shirt. If you get some on your skin wash it quickly and you should be fine.
STEP 2. Next you have to determine how much concrete mix you will need. You do this by multiplying the length by the width to get the square footage. Then you need to figure out how thick the slab is.
Once you have those measurements use this handy concrete slab calculator that will show how many cubic yards you will need.
For any project that figures more than 1 cubic yard of concrete, I would recommend calling a redi mix concrete company and have them deliver the concrete on a concrete mixing truck.
If it's under a yard you can rent an electric mixer, buy the bags at a hardware store, and follow the directions on the bag.
If you live in an area where you have freeze and thaw cycles, make sure the concrete has air entrainment in it. This helps make it more durable in harsh weather environments.
STEP 3. The tools you'll need to pour the slab are a shovel, a concrete rake, a bullfloat, 2x4 screed (you will have determine what length), wheelbarrow, concrete broom (if you want a non-skid finish), hand float & a hand trowel. You can rent all these at any tool rental place if you need to.
OK you've figured how much concrete, got all your tools ready and are wearing the right clothing. LETS POUR THIS SLAB ALREADY!
STEP 4. Start pouring the concrete either from the concrete truck or by using the wheelbarrow.
Place it inside the forms, filling them to the top of the form.
All your reinforcement should be in place so just pull the concrete around using the shovel and rake, then level it using the screed.
Drag the screed across the top of the forms filling the low areas and pulling back the high areas until it is all even with the top of the forms.
Once you have it all level use the bullfloat or hand float and slowly run these over the surface to settle the aggregate and bring the cream to the top. This will give you a smooth surface to work with if you want a broom or hand trowel finish.
STEP 5. Finishing the surface - Let the concrete "set up" or "dry" enough so you can press your fingers into the surface about a 1/4 or 3/8 inch. The time will vary depending on how hot the temperature is that day.
Use your hand float and hand trowel to smooth the surface. If it is an inside slab a smooth surface is probably what your looking for.
Run your hand trowel over the surface 3 or 4 times giving the concrete a little time in between passes.
If you desire a broom finish for an outside slab then drag the broom across the surface after you hand float it. This will give you a good non-slip surface for a walkway or patio.
Concrete will set really fast out in the direct sun on a hot day. Make sure you have enough help to handle the job.
If the slab is too big to finish by hand a power trowel can be used. I would not suggest renting one of these, they aren't as easy to use as they look. Hire a concrete contractor, you'll be happy you did.
STEP 6. The next very important step is to "cure" the concrete. Click on CONCRETE SEALER to learn about this.
STEP 7. You can strip off the forms the next day. The concrete will be hard enough to walk on. It's best to give it a full day before you start building on it. That's it. You've just learned how to pour concrete, Great job!
Here's a video by us on how to pour concrete floors, check this out if you need a visual understanding.
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