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Pouring, or wet concrete is one of the most widely used building materials in the construction industry. It is super strong, durable, weather- and fire-resistant, and relevantly affordable. One of the most appealing features of this material is that it can take any form or shape — from unimaginably huge structures to humble stairs. But when concrete contractors pour their own concrete slabs, you have to keep in mind that it is a harder task than one might think.
That’s why we only recommend trusting projects that involve wet concrete only to experienced contractors. Concrete slab durability and longevity will heavily depend on how the job is performed in the first place. While pouring concrete, they will bear in mind environmental conditions, perform a perfect curing process, secure a truly smooth finish, and the lack of cracks in the future. Local contractors will know the best concrete supplier, legal requirements, and the quality of the soil. They will inform you of the basic maintenance tips which will help to keep the concrete in perfect shape for years to come.
Here at Masonry Chicago, we have been in the concrete construction business for more than 20 years. We have great knowledge of pouring concrete and have all the necessary equipment. Googling “Concrete pouring near me”? Check out the portfolio on our website, and in case you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 773 231-5371 and talk to our specialists.
What is pouring concrete?
Basically, it is a concrete mix that is, dissolved with water, can be molded into absolutely different shapes — for example, to create slabs that will become the foundation of a building, or to build a wall, or stairs. The mixed concrete can have different properties and densities and, therefore, is used for different projects. Concrete consists of Portland cement mixed with aggregates (sand, coarse gravel, crashed limestone) and water in different proportions. The process of creating a concrete slab form starts with form boards creation — the molds that it will take after concrete sets.
How to perform concrete mixing?
The concrete products for large projects are supplied by a concrete mixer truck, which makes the mix as it goes to the site. This helps suppliers create a mix that is adapted to the specific task and be sure that the product is delivered on-site according to the schedule. Concrete mixer trucks contain all of the ingredients inside the mixer, including the water.
For most small projects, however, the bagged concrete mixes that are purchased from the internet or offline shops can do just as well. But one must read the instructions on the bag very carefully and make sure to purchase the right equipment.
Guide to pouring concrete
Installing poured concrete can be tricky, as all concrete pours are unique and have their own specifics. Many actors, including the dimensions of the building, must be considered when creating a concrete mixture. Follow this guide with eight simple steps of concrete construction and learn more about how concrete is laid.
Take necessary precautions before you begin
The first steps of concrete projects include making sure the site is absolutely ready, aesthetically appealing, and conducive for concrete pouring. This includes calling the local building department to find out about the construction permits, zoning codes, etc., and making the arrangements for marking the place of pipes and wires. After the initial preparations are done, make sure you got all the tools and sanitary equipment in hand. Use respiration protection when using concrete as it irritates the airways.
Step 1 – Site work
Before concrete is placed, the site must be prepared and the top layer of soil (or frost) is removed. Usually, you have to aim for the depth of 4-8 inches (the exact depth of the subbase will depend on each job). A level between 48 and 72 inches in height is used to create a perfectly flat surface. If the ground is not leveled, the grade is adjusted by moving the dirt and testing the soil again. The grass, rocks, trees, debris, and old concrete structures are removed. The gravel is put on the bottom of the future slab, and the soil is compacted until it’s dense and strong.
Step 2 – Forming
Once a subbase is prepared, a form is created. It is usually created with the help of 1/4 wooden boards that are fixed to the stakes with screws and special nails with two heads so that the concrete can be easily retrieved once it is set. Forms should be super clean, especially at the corners.
Step 3 – Mixing
If a premade concrete mix is used, it is dissolved with water according to the directions on the bag. For the creation of smaller concrete blocks, the builder can use wheelbarrows or shovels. For larger projects, the concrete mix will be delivered on the construction site in the truck: the drum at its back will be constantly spinning to prevent the concrete from setting. A concrete truck is usually available for $85 a day and can also provide tools for larger projects.
Step 4 – Placement
Once the concrete is mixed, the concrete pour takes place. The builders gather on the deck and start pouring the wet concrete out right away. They make sure that they place enough material to evenly cover all forms. Rinsing the wheelbarrow once it’s empty, helps reduce the chance of hardened debris.
Step 5 – Early finishing
After the concrete is poured and the “bleeding” water disappears (from 20 minutes to 4 hours), its surface is greased with the help of thick metal or wooden board. Screeding aids in setting and retaining the concrete in form and secures a smooth finish. This work has to be performed very accurately, with the control of joints and edges.
Step 6 – Troweling
If the concrete surface has still roughened after it has set, steel trowels must be used for creating smooth, tough surfaces. It is done either on the ground using kneeboards and by troweling tiny areas at the same time or by tools mounted on a long pole called Fresno’s / fun trowel.
Step 7 – Final finishing
Once the entire trowel work has been completed, the finishing touches are performed on the concrete surface. Generally, the most basic finishing technique is a simple broom! And if you are opting for decorative finishing options such as stamped, textured, or polished concrete, special equipment, and chemical solutions are used.
Step 8 – Concrete cure
The concrete needs time to cure (strengthen). Usually, the full curing process takes 28 days. And the first 48 hours are absolutely crucial (no walking, scratching, applying pressure!). After the recommended 28 days, concrete forms can be removed. The concrete will last longer if sealed with a special sealing agent recommended by the manufacturer (for its type of use, the project, or the environment). Liquid chemicals are applied gradually and evenly in order to reduce cracked or discolored surfaces. Walking on a newly-sealed surface is possible after at least one day of letting it dry.
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The best time of the year to pour concrete
Is it safe and easy to pour concrete all year round without fear of snow or rain? Not really! Although mixing concrete is possible year-round, it isn’t always easy to build a concrete slab of proper strength in certain weather conditions. As concrete includes water in its mix, the temperature may influence how it behaves in heat or cold. Under freezing conditions, for example, the liquids may freeze. The expansion in heat, on the other hand, can lead to fractures. These factors have to be considered in choosing the right time for concrete placement.
Pouring concrete in hot weather
Remember that hydration is incredibly essential in building and maintaining a solid, durable slab with a smooth surface. Hot temperatures can get in the way of the curing process! When the temperature rises above 90 °F, the water starts evaporating… and the usual temperatures for the concrete to solidify must range between 70 °F to 80 °F! So choosing summer days with relatively low humidity, favorable breeze, and warm, but not hot weather is more reasonable.
Pouring concrete in rainy weather
Concrete poured in the rain can prove to be the toughest task for the builders. If the job is an absolute must, the contractor tries to avoid heavy, frequent, or prolonged rains. And even to establish tents on the building site. To prevent slippage during wet conditions the concrete is brushed with a broom. It must be firmly positioned so the brush does not clump. The grooves of the brush cannot be too deep to pool water (this can cause surface flaking with time). But in case you can wait for the dry weather, it might be a better choice!
Pouring concrete in cold weather
What is the coldest temperature you can pour the concrete in? The American Concrete Institute says that the concrete cannot be properly laid if the average daily temperature is less than 40 °F In cold conditions, it is necessary to take special precautions to ensure the concrete is properly laid, so it doesn’t shrink, crack and properly cures.
Working with ready-mix concrete
Readymix concrete is an amalgamation of sand, gravel & Portland cement. It is generally found in home outlets in the form of ready mixes that contain all components except water. Usually, containing 50 pounds of mixture. For most DIYers, concrete slabs are prepared with a crack-resistant ready mix concrete. As in the large projects, the wooden concrete forms are prepared in advance, the dry concrete is mixed with water, and then carefully poured. After 28 days of concrete properly curing, the concrete form is removed, and the slab can be used.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the process of concrete installation?
Usually, the process of concrete installation is performed in 8 steps:
- Prepare the site
- Create the form boards
- Mix concrete
- Concrete pour
- Perform initial finishing
- Do the troweling
- Perform final finishing
- Let concrete dry
Can you pour concrete directly on dirt?
Yes, you can put concrete directly on dirt, but you have to prepare the area first — remove all the debris, the trees, the old concrete structures, etc.
How much does installing concrete cost?
The average nationwide price for pouring a concrete slab is $7 per square foot, including the cost of materials and labor.
When to pour a concrete slab?
It is better to wait for relevantly dry and cool weather. The perfect temperature for pouring concrete is 60°F. The slabs aren’t recommended to be poured at temperatures above 90 °F, or below 40 °F.
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