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What You Need to Know About Pouring a Concrete Slab

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Concrete pouring projects are not the job for the faint of heart as it can be quite intimidating. At first, your heart races fast because you understand very well that any mistake, however small it is, often turns your slab into a terrible mess. Nonetheless, contrary to what most people (including you) may think, the entire process is neither a difficult nor complicated task. In fact, this article takes you through the necessary steps and, in the end, you may find that you cannot wait to start the very first project and save a few dollars! Letís begin by telling you what you need to know about pouring a concrete slab.

1) Preparing the site

Just like any other serious project, the site should be clean and free from any debris in order to avoid cracking or anything of that sort! Therefore, start with clearing the area by removing shrubs, trees, grass, old concrete, or anything else that may interfere with your work.

2) Preparing the sub-base

The sub-base is typically any material that the main concrete slab rests on. In most cases, granular fill or road base is preferable, although soil may be used in rare occasions. If you choose the latter option, then ensure the sub-grade (the soil below the sub-base) is properly stabilized and compacted before adding the sub-base. All you need to do is to lay out the subbase in a thickness of four to eight inches, and compact it hard using either a plate compactor or hand tamper.

3) Preparing the form

This is simply a wooden perimeter secured by screws or nails constructed around the pouring site. If you want to achieve the best concrete finish, then you need to start building one of best forms possible. Ensure that the corners are exactly 90 degrees and diagonals are the same, especially for rectangular or square forms. It is recommended that they have a slight slope (about one inch for every ten feet) to avoid water accumulation in the middle of your concrete.

4) Reinforce the form using rebar or wire mesh

The form must be reinforced from the inside, especially if you are working on massive load-bearing structures like driveways. The best way to achieve this objective is to use rebar or wire mesh. The rebar is tied to the form to help stop cracks from developing or spreading while boosting stability across both axes. If you choose to use the wire mesh, it needs to be welded to provide improved structural integrity for higher load carrying surfaces.

5) Mix the concrete

It is now time to mix the concrete, and this is done by adding gravel (coarse aggregate), sand, and cement together in a ratio of one part aggregate, two parts sand and four parts cement. Add water to the components to bind them together. If you have a mixer, then your work will be even easier. Otherwise, you should be armed with a shovel and wheelbarrow to do your mixing.

6) Transfer the concrete into your form

If you have made a good mixture in step 5 above, it is now time to transfer your concrete into your form. Again, if you were using a mixer, you work is simple and straightforward since you just need to pour into the form. Otherwise, unload the mixture from the wheelbarrow into the form and spread uniformly using a come-along, rake, or shovel.

7) Screed the top of the concrete

Check for uphill points and, using a screening tool, flatten out the concrete while it is still wet. You have to jiggle back and forth or from bottom to top using a wide plank of wood over the form to come up with an even or flat surface. Once your concrete is smooth, things are looking good! However, youíre not yet done -proceed to the next step!

8) Float the surface

It is now the time to float the previous screeded surface to compact it further. In step 7, you were moving to slow, but now itís time to increase your speed as the concrete sets faster. You can use a huge floating device (called bull float) that presses down the aggregate and makes the cream rise to the surface. You can also go over the surface using a magnesium-hand float.

9) Create control joints

Control joints are essential to prevent the slab from cracking as a result of temperature changes. At this step, you need to create them by using a groover every five to six feet. Cut the joints into about a quarter of the concreteís thickness.

10) Create traction

You are almost done, but do you want your concrete slab to display some type of designs? Perhaps yes, and this is the time to do so! Sweep across the concrete surface using a broom to provide traction so it isnít slippery when wet. You can also slide a trowel over the surface if you want to create circular designs. When creating designs, either by using a broom or trowel, ensure that grooves formed are not too deep. You donít want the grooves to hold water on the surface as this will compromise the integrity of the concrete.

11) Cure & seal

This is absolutely the last step in pouring a concrete slab. It is recommended that this slab is left to cure for at least twenty-eight days, with the first few days being critical. Sealing the concrete starts immediately after it has been poured. This sealant helps cure the concrete as well as prevents discoloration and development of cracks.

Now, you know what it takes to pour a concrete slab. If you followed the steps explained herein to the letter, then there is no doubt that you have created a tough surface that will last for many decades. While concrete slabs are no-hassle surfaces, it is very important that regular care and maintenance is observed to lengthen their lifespan.

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