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Concrete Finishing Tips for SlabsHow to place, spread and finish a concrete slab
A good finisher is produced through training and years of experience. Books have been written about this topic, and only experience provides the ability to expertly "time" the finishing operations.
Listed here is simply a recap of important parts of that operation.
- Place the concrete as close as possible to its final destination.
- "Strikeoff"/ Screed the concrete as close as possible to its final plane.
- Don't tamp high slump concrete.
- Bull Floating should be finished before excess moisture or bleedwater appear on the surface.
- Joints should be cut at least the slab thickness.
- Don't fresno the slab right after screeding- bleedwater and air trapped beneath the sealed surface will create blisters that later break or a weakened plane that causes sheet delamination.
- Dont finish the concrete while there is bleedwater on the surface. Using a finishing tool while there is water on the surface increase water-cement ratio by working the water back into the concrete instead of letting it evaporate. This can cause dusting, scaling and craze cracking.
Read other tips on Building a High Quality Slab on Grade.
Normal concrete weighs approximately 150 pounds per cubic foot and should be placed as near as possible to its final position. Excess handling can cause segregation of the course and fine aggregates. Wetting up the concrete so it can be raked or pushed into a location far from where it is discharged is not acceptable.
Concrete is poured directly from the chute of the ready mix truck, wheeled into place with a buggy, or pumped into place with a concrete boom pump (see concrete pumping).
Concrete is normally specified at a 4-5" slump. Industrial, commercial, and some residential projects require an inspector on concrete pours who monitors the concrete slump and takes slump measurements at the required intervals.
SPREADING THE CONCRETE
The purpose of spreading fresh concrete is to place concrete as close as possible to finish level to facilitate straightedging/screeding the concrete.
Short handled, square-ended shovels are recommended for spreading concrete. A come-along (a tool that looks like a hoe and has a long straight edged blade) can also be used. Do not use a round edge shovel for spreading concrete since it does not spread the concrete evenly.
Any spreader used should be rigid enough to push and pull wet concrete without bending: Normal concrete weighs approximately 150 pounds per cubic foot.