How to Lay Concrete Like A Pro

Looking to do some DIY concreting? Creating a good concrete slab is not that difficult to do. Once you know how, you’ll be able to create great floors for your garden, patio or shed.

But first things first – materials. Get hold of some pre-mixed concrete, steel pegs, reinforced mesh and formwork (the mold into which your concrete will be poured). Talk to us for advice on materials and your project.

You’ll also need measuring tape, a spirit level, shovel, concrete edger and rake, float, levelling screed and stringline.

Once you have everything ready, these are the steps to follow to create a pro-looking concrete floor.

  1. Dig out a level to match your formwork. It should be at least 100mm deep. Dig the area that you wish to place the formwork in and add an extra 50mm in thickness for the formwork. Make sure all of your measurements are square and that your ground is even by using a spirit level.
  2. Secure your formwork using steel pegs. Make sure they’re firmly hammered into the ground.
  3. Lay down some reinforced steel meshing. This stops your concrete from cracking over time. Make sure you have at least 25mm of concrete covering the mesh.
  4. Even out your concrete. Use a rake and screed to spread the concrete evenly and flatly. Tap the outside of the boxing with a hammer or use a concrete vibrator inside the boxing to eliminate porous finish once boxing is removed.
  5. Smooth the surface. Use a steel trowel and wooden float to create a smooth surface and your concrete edger to add a nice finish.
  6. Take away your formwork. Remove the formwork after 3 days to reveal a perfectly constructed concrete slab.

For more information and advice, contact us today.

How to Stop Your Concrete From Cracking

From faces or floors, one thing most humans can’t stand is cracking. So what can you do to keep a clear, youthful looking footpath?

Avoid gaps

Wood, rubbish, tree roots, ants and other subterranean creatures can create gaps in the soil which cause cracking as your concrete expands and contracts. Carefully prepare your ground with compactors and the appropriate use of water.

Reinforce. Reinforce. Reinforce.

Reinforce your concrete. This strengthens it and prevents small cracks from widening. Also use expansion filler in between walls and other areas where your concrete won’t have the space to expand into.

Make the first move.

Don’t wait for nature to crack your concrete arbitrarily. Place control joints using saw cutting to create a weak point for your concrete to crack. These joints should be up to 3 meters apart and placed on corners.

While cracking can be unsightly and difficult to avoid, following the above steps will help you greatly reduce it.

Is All Concrete The Same?

If you’re new to concrete, it’s tempting to think of it as being all pretty much the same. However, this is not the case.

Much like wine, there’s a concrete type for every occasion.

Old school concrete

Concrete has an ancient history. The Romans made it from hydrated lime and volcanic ash and clay (in the case of hydraulic concrete). This helped them create some of their most enduring monuments and their concrete was the envy of the ancient world.

Regular concrete

Modern concrete is usually a combination of cement, sand, stone and water. The sand is often mortar or brick and materials such as leaves and twigs are washed and filtered out to ensure it is as strong as possible. The exact mix varies depending on how the concrete is to be used. Regular concrete can withstand pressure from 1450psi to 5800 psi and concrete that is to be used for structural purposes will be made to withstand higher pressures than that used for more cosmetic purposes or as a barrier, such as blinding concrete (used on the floor of a building to prevent dirt and mud entering the structure).

High strength concrete

High strength concrete can withstand over 5800psi and uses less water in its mix than regular concrete. It also uses a carefully selected aggregate to ensure it can withstand high loads. Some types of high strength concrete are also designed to be elastic.

Stamped concrete

Stamped concrete is used by architects and is created so that it can be textured and coloured to resemble stone, bricks, wood or other attractive designs. You’ll often find it in car parks and on walkways as it’s very resistant to wear.

High performance concrete

High performance concrete is built to excel in a range of specific areas (not necessarily strength, as in the case of high strength concrete). These other areas include durability in severe conditions, environmental quality, ease of application, permeability and density.
Research into concrete is uncovering many new forms, which we’ll look at in a future article. The above types however are the standard forms of concrete in use today.