Whether you need a small concrete slab for the bottom of deck stairs, a base for a new shed, a new front door walkway, a backyard basketball court, or a new driveway, you can take on this project with the help of some great neighbors and friends. Regardless of the size of your project, here are some guidelines that can help you plan out your new project.
- Make sure to have the proper boots, gloves, goggles, and HEPA masks for protecting your skin, eyes, and lungs from the cement.
- Before you begin any outdoor project, make sure to call and have your utility lines marked, so that you can dig around them.
- If you are renting tools, make sure you have learned how to use them properly.
Make a Plan:
- If you are replacing an existing concrete slab, you might need a concrete saw or air hammer to break apart the existing cement. Make sure to clear out all of the old concrete before starting your new project.
- First, measure out your project: length, width, and depth. This will help you calculate how much concrete you will need to mix or order. At Northside Tool Rental, we offer many different types of machines for mixing cement depending on the size of your project. We will be more than happy to help you figure out which tools are best for your project. We have everything from wheelbarrows to concrete mixers to get you the tools you need to make this project your own.
- Check the weather forecast. The best condition for pouring a concrete slab is in a dry, warm environment. The temperature should be around seventy degrees for the five days following your pour.
Prep your Site:
- Once you have measured your location, you can use stakes to create the corners of your slab. Make sure that your lines are perpendicular and your corners are square. Use twine to outline the stakes and create the outline of the slab area.
- Use two-by-four lumber to build the shape of your concrete form. Once you have the correct size and shape, put it in the place where you want to pour your slab.
- You are going to need to dig out the turf inside the wooden frame at least four inches deep. For larger projects, like new driveways, consider using a mini skid loader to get the digging done quickly. Make sure to dig about 6 inches beyond your planned slab to give yourself extra room to work.
- One of the most important preparations is to make sure that the ground under your new slab can support the new concrete. If your soil is clean and compactable, then you can put the concrete slab right on top of the ground. However, adding gravel and then tamping it creates the most stable foundation for your project. Depending on the size of your project, Northside Tool Rental has a few different options for tampers. You want to have a level four-inch bed of gravel in order to pour the concrete on top.
Get To Work
- Once you have prepped your area, make sure you set aside the time necessary to pour all of your concrete. With that in mind, start by wetting the gravel and frame with water.
- Depending on the scale of your project, you can either mix your cement using an electric concrete mixer. You can even get tools like a concrete cart to help move the concrete into position much more quickly.
- Plan to have some friends handy to begin your pour. They can keep the concrete pouring in front of you so that you have time to work on leveling. Do small sections of concrete at a time; as it is poured, begin to spread the concrete evenly inside your frame pouring a little bit higher than your two-by-four form in order to make sure that the concrete will fill in every depression.
- As you pour, your concrete slab needs to have at least a one-eight-inch-per-foot slope to make sure water does not just sit on top of the concrete once your project is done.
- If you are doing a bigger job, like a driveway, you will need to set rebar in place in order to reduce breaking or cracking. But for smaller projects like pathways or small shed floors, you will not need to use rebar.
Smoothing the Surface and Letting the Concrete Cure
- To get your pour level, take a two-by-four (screed board) and pull it across the top of the wet concrete to begin to level out your pour.
- One of the easiest ways to do this quickly is to have other people add or remove concrete in front of you as you pull the screed board. Pulling the board back and forth will help create the proper grade and smoothness.
- After this step, you need to start floating the concrete as soon as possible. Northside Tool Rental has a concrete bull float tool that makes this an easy step in your DIY process.
- Run the bull float perpendicular to the direction you used with the screed board. You only need to do about three to four passes because too much floating can weaken the surface.
- Another great tool to consider is a concrete vibrator; they eliminate air bubbles in freshly poured concrete giving you an extremely dense concrete slab that will last for years to come.
- Next, you will need to finish smoothing the surface. For smaller projects, you can use a hand trowel; for larger projects, consider a power trowel for efficiency.
- You will need to finish the edges with a concrete edger, and once the cement has cured according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you can remove the frame.
- Your slab will need time to completely dry out. To avoid cracking or breaking, keep the slab wet and cover it with plastic. For most slabs, it takes about twenty-eight days for the concrete to be completely cured, although it can be used before then.
If you’re ready to either fix a cracked concrete walkway or slab or if you are hoping to create a new concrete space in your outdoor area, we can help you. At Northside Tool Rental, we have every tool you need to help you with your next project. And we’re here to help. We have experts that can discuss what tools you need and how we can fully equip you to get the job done, so contact us today!