Beginners Guide To learning
how to power trowel a garage floor

The most important part to power troweling a concrete floor is knowing when to start.

The second most important thing is to know how to operate the power trowel properly.

And... the third most important thing is to know the pattern a concrete finisher uses to get a really nice looking and smooth floor using a power trowel.

How to properly use the power trowel

Before you start power troweling your concrete floor, you have to know how to properly operate the trowel.

Most all walk-behind power trowels have very similar features

  1. There's an on/off switch on the upper handle 
  2. There's a blade pitch control lever on the upper handle
  3. There's a handle adjustment lever on the upper handle
  4. On the motor there's a gas on/off and a choke lever
  5. The throttle lever is on the upper handle  (controls the rpm's)

Turn the ON/OFF switch to the on position and make sure the gas lever is on.

Move the choke to "choke" position and you're ready to pull the pull cord to start the motor.

I usually keep the throttle very low when I start the motor or the power trowel will want to immediately take off when the motor starts.

Make sure you have a firm grip on the handles with your left arm and pull the start cord. 

When the motor starts, you can turn the choke off, grab the handles with both hands and increase the throttle to make the blades start to rotate.

You move the trowel LEFT by pulling up on the handles and RIGHT by pushing down on the handles. 

It doesn't take much pressure UP or DOWN on the handles to move the power trowel, just make sure you have a good grip and never let go of the handles.

The video below will show you the features, how to start the motor, and how to move the power trowel over the concrete floor.

When should you power trowel concrete

Once you know how to operate the trowel, the next question is when to start power troweling the concrete.

This is the most difficult part of finishing concrete for beginners. I'll tell you my secret how I determine when to start.

My rule of thumb is when I can press my fingers into the surface of the concrete and they only "sink" in about 1/8 of an inch when I apply good pressure, it's time to start power troweling. 

In the video below, I'll show you exactly how to do that and explain to you the pattern I use to finish a concrete floor nice and smooth.

what type of power trowel blades to use

There's four different types of power trowel blades we use when we trowel concrete.

  1. Combo-blades - you can use these blades for both the floating process and the finishing process (most new walk-behind trowels come with these)
  2. Finish blades - Used after the floating process, steel or plastic blade that's used to smooth and burn the surface of the concrete floor.
  3. Float blades - Slide on over the finish blades, used on the first pass over the concrete to break the surface open "work up the paste on the surface" and to level out small humps and dips.
  4. Float Pans - Used instead of "float blades" for the first pass over the concrete. Distributes the weight of the trowel evenly on the floor. Allows for earlier troweling of the concrete without sinking or digging the blades into the floor.

power trowel finishing techniques

How to adjust the blades on a power trowel.

All power trowels come with a blade pitch control assembly. 

Some, like the one's in the videos above, have a rotating pitch control knob where you rotate it clockwise to increase the pitch and counterclockwise to lower the pitch.

Other power trowels have a "Quick Pitch Handle" where you move the handle towards you or away from you to control the pitch of the blades.

If you use a PAN to float with you just keep the pitch of the blades flat when you're panning/floating. No reason to worry about pitch at this time.

If you use FLOAT blades, you want a slight pitch to the blades to work up the "cream" and break open the surface for finishing.

If you use COMBO blades, you start with a slight pitch on the first pass, then slightly increase the pitch as the concrete gets firmer.

When you use finish blades, you keep a slight pitch to the blades and increase that pitch slightly as the concrete gets firmer.

I mostly use FLOAT BLADES for the first pass and finish blades for the remainder of the finishing process.

That's what I'm doing in the second video. 


beginners guide to power troweling a concrete floor

In this video I'm showing you the complete process step by step on how to power trowel a concrete floor. I explain each step in detail and show you how I do it.

I'm using the float blades and finish blades to power trowel this garage slab.

I finished the concrete to a "burnt" finish which is a very smooth surface finish.

what power trowels i recommend you buy

I've got a few favorite power trowel brands I've used over the years.

Below, I'll list some of the power trowels I recommend. You can click the links to check them out.

  1. MBW 36" power trowel
  2. Marshalltown 48" power trowel (use coupon code EAC when you checkout to save 10%)
  3. MBW 46" power trowel

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