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There are steps to pour concrete but like asphalt the sub-grade is the most important!.
For a good quality concrete sub-base must be use. The sub-base is another word for any material on which the concrete rests. Usually, base rock is used, although in some rare cases, soil itself can be used if it is extremely compacted and stable, but not recommended.
The soil underneath the sub-base is called the sub-grade, and your concrete is only going to be as strong as your sub-grade. Think about it: If the sub-grade shifts, craters, or otherwise moves, the integrity of the concrete is going to be compromised. Make sure the sub-grade is properly compacted and stabilized before adding the sub-base.
Lay a 3–6 inch thick sub-base with your chosen material, and then compact it.
Prepare a form. A form is usually a wooden perimeter, secured by special nails or screws, and built around the pouring site. A well-built form will help you achieve a better finish on your concrete. Make sure that the forms have a slight slope to them. If they are completely level, you can expect water build up in the middle of your beautiful concrete.
Consider adding wire mesh or rebar to your form. Wire mesh and rebar are used for added stability, especially on heavy load-bearing structures, such as driveways. If you're pouring concrete for surfaces onto which you're not likely to put a lot of weight, it would probably be overkill to add wire mesh/rebar. Both have their advantages and disadvantages:
- Wire mesh will help guard small cracks growing and spreading, as well as offer stability across two axes (wire mesh is welded, where rebar is often tied together). The downside of wire mesh is that it is not great at providing structural integrity.
- Rebar may offer better structural integrity, and be better for higher load-bearing surfaces. On the flip side, it doesn't do much to minimize the appearance of cracks that do appear.
After the concrete is pour it needs to be screed to flatten out the wet concrete. Screeding involves jiggling a wide plank of wood back and forth, if possible immediately over the forms, to create a flat surface. Then it needs to be float by using a large floating device, also known as a bull float, to press down aggregate and help the cream (gravel-free concrete) rise to the surface. Then a magnesium hand float is use to go over the surface. After some of the water bleeds to the surface, use long sweeping motions with your hand float. Then control joints need to be make. These joints will help the concrete withstand cracking due to temperature changes.
Finally a broom is use to sweep across the surface, creating designs. This will provide traction on the concrete so it is not as slippery when wet.
Concrete should be left to cure for 28 days, with the initial day being the most critical.
Although concrete is often thought of an a no-hassle surface, it benefits from regular maintenance. Regular soap and water maintenance will help keep the concrete looking its best.