All you need to know about pouring concrete
Many people do not know whether or not they will be able to pour their own concrete. While there are certainly some considerations to take when pouring concrete, it is entirely possible for people to do so.
With the right preparation and technique, a person can add pouring their own concrete to their skillset quite simply. This is a wonderful skill to have as it enables people to create foundations and flooring surfaces at a lower cost.
Poured concrete can be useful in creating small patios, concrete floors, and moulds to make decorative pavings or garden paths. Another use is in making concrete blocks.
Here we will explore the steps considerations necessary to pour concrete correctly.
Before pouring your concrete
Preparation is the key to success in any form of construction. Whatever a person happens to be building, preparing correctly will greatly impact the outcome of the final product.
The initial steps when preparing to pour concrete are as follows:
- Prepare the area: After digging a trench, laying a mould or preparing another area to pour the concrete, the first step is to make sure the area is free of any debris, leaves, sticks, and other mess. Make sure only soil is visible.
- Add the subbase: Subbase is usually aggregate, such as gravel or sand, which sits below the concrete. Lay a base of at least 4 inches and compact it. It is not normally necessary for a subbase to be higher than 8 inches.
- Place the form: The form keeps the concrete within the appropriate area and improves the finish. Using wooden planks is relatively cheap and simple, make sure the angles are even by taking measurements.
- Add the wire mesh: The mesh adds stability. Sometimes people choose to use rebar, which is similar to a mesh but it is held together with metal ties. A mesh, in contrast, undergoes a welding process.
Once the preparation is complete, the area is ready for pouring.
Mixing and pouring the concrete
Before being able to actually pour the concrete, the concrete needs mixing. The usual process is to use 1 part cement, 2 parts sand, and 4 parts gravel and mix it together with water. Some concrete comes in a pre-mix.
The volume of water necessary will depend on the overall volume of the concrete mixture, but the drier the mix the more stable it will be. People do not require a cement mixer, a wheelbarrow and spade will work effectively.
- Pour the mix: Tipping the mix from a wheelbarrow, truck or mixer to the high level of the form is the initial step. Spreading out the mixture with a spade will help even it out across the form.
- Flatten the concrete: The surface then undergoes a process people call ‘screeding’. Using a plank of wood to sweep from side-to-side will help achieve a nice level surface.
- Compact with a bull float: A bull float, a wide trowel on a pole that looks similar to a flat kitchen mop, is necessary for this stage. Press down and push the float away and toward oneself across the surface.
We provide these instructions for a person’s individual project. However, it is a similar process to our industrial concrete flooring process here – but at a smaller scale and with less equipment.
Can you pour concrete in the rain?
It is possible to pour concrete in the rain.
Concrete does not dry per se. When it hardens, it actually goes through a process that people call curing. However, it will require a longer time to set. Ensuring there is adequate drainage and covering the concrete with a tarpaulin can help mitigate any impact of rain.
Working with concrete in very cold weather can be difficult, and may affect the quality of the final product. Concrete requires warmth to harden and cure properly, so people should plan according to the weather conditions in which they are building.
After the concrete is poured
After compacting the concrete, there is an additional step that can help remove excess water content that seeps to the surface. Using a hand float, made of wood, aluminium, magnesium or resin, people can smooth the surface further.
There are a few things to do after pouring and leveling the concrete that can make the overall structure more secure and less likely to crack. Depending on the surface area of the concrete, the first step may not be necessary:
- Grooving: Using a groover, a flat tool with an excave groove down the middle, create a line across the concrete every 5 feet. These are what people call control joints and they will make the concrete more resistant to cracks.
- Brushing: Brushing the surface with a broom gives some texture and prevents the surface becoming slippery. It is also possible to use a trowel and sweep it in circular motions for this effect.
- Sealing: The final step is sealing the concrete. Using a concrete sealer on the surface is the final step. Doing this right after pouring the concrete is advisable. The benefit is further crack resistance and lower chances of discolouration.
Once this process is complete, time is the only factor remaining for a complete and effective drying process. People should leave their concrete for 28 days to fully cure.
When you’re considering a concrete building project
There are many different types of concrete finishes and project types. While small scale ideas can usually be quite simple, at some point there comes a need for professional assistance to achieve a successful outcome.
For example, one of our most popular finishes for concrete is a polished finish. They look beautiful, but require considerable skill and experience to complete. The final touches on this finish, such as dust topping and brush finishing, are even more complex and delicate. This is why our customers choose to entrust us with the more intricate parts of the process.
If you are considering a project and are ready to get a quote, or you just want some more information, please get in touch with us. Our team will be happy to help.