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Five Must-Have Tools for Placing and Finishing Exterior ConcreteThe tools outdoor concrete contractors can’t live without
Even skilled concrete contractors with years of experience can’t achieve good results without the right tools and equipment. This is especially the case with high-profile decorative stamped or colored concrete, which requires starting out with a perfect canvas. The assortment of tools featured here are the basics that many outdoor concrete contractors tell us they can’t live without. Some will help you achieve better surface finishes, while others will streamline subgrade preparation and concrete compaction. If you want to improve the quality and appearance of your outdoor concrete slabs, an investment in any of these tools will be money well spent.
1. Plate compactor
Proper preparation of the concrete subgrade is essential to both the appearance and performance of a concrete slab because it will prevent cracking and sinking. You can use a handheld tamper to pound the down the aggregate subbase, but you’ll get much better results with less effort using a vibratory plate compactor. See this video for tips on using a plate compactor effectively.
Bull floats and hand floats serve several important functions when finishing a concrete slab, including consolidating the slab by bringing paste to the surface and pushing down the coarse aggregate and making the surface level by cutting the high points and filling the lows. On colored concrete, floats can also be used to work in dry-shake color hardener. Get tips for buying concrete floats.
Steel trowels are the last tools you’ll use when finishing a concrete slab and are essential to achieving a smooth, level surface and filling any voids. You’ll need both a fresno (basically a trowel with a handle attached) to reach the middle of the slab and a set of hand trowels to touch up edges and tight spots. Get these tips for buying steel trowels.
4. Pump-Up Sprayer
If you frequently apply stains, curing compounds and sealers to your outdoor concrete, you won’t want to be without a pump-up or low-pressure sprayer. In addition to saving time, a sprayer will deliver constant pressure so you get a consistent spray pattern and better results. Watch this video for tips on selecting the proper type of sprayer. Also, learn about a rechargeable backpack sprayer for applying concrete stains and sealers.
5. Set of stamps
Buying a set of stamps to imprint patterns in concrete slabs involves much more than just picking out an appealing pattern. You also need to choose the right type of stamp for the job and know what characteristics distinguish a high-quality stamp from a substandard version. To help you with make a smart choice, check out our buyer’s guide to concrete stamping tools.