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Installing concrete is a very challenging job! Naturally, almost every new concrete placement is going to be different. The Size, shape, color, finish and depth all have to be considered when pouring concrete. After these components have been decided on, the steps to place concrete are relatively the same in regard to layout, preparation, and concrete placement. The guide below will assist you in getting a better understanding of what takes place before, during and after concrete is placed.

 

Step 1- Decision to go with Down Right Concrete LLC

concrete

After considering the logistics of the job, a price will be proposed. Once the decision to go with Down Right Concrete LLC is made, a written contract will be presented to the homeowner. The contract will clearly state what work is to be completed, expectations on the finish, color, texture, price, and payment schedule will be included. As a side note, the contract will also contain extra information on what to expect from your new concrete slab, and any maintenance guidelines as the concrete ages. Once the contract is signed, and pre-payments made (if any), the real work can begin.

Step 2 – Site Work

patio

Before concrete can be placed, the site needs to be prepared. The area needs to be cleared and/or cleaned. Often, we will use earth moving equipment to clear the area and speed up this process. All grass, rocks, trees, shrubs, and old concrete needs to be removed, exposing raw earth. A sub base of a minimum 4 inches of granular fill or road base is recommended, unless the soil is already very compact and stable. The sub base fill is placed and compacted over the entire area where concrete will be placed, with special attention on the edges. Proper sub base preparation is important to allow the concrete to cure properly as well as reduce the chances for heaving from expansive soils and frost heaving.

Step 3 – Forming & Re-bar

patio

Once the sub base is prepared, forms can be set. For most residential concrete projects, we use wood forms which are held in place with metal or wood stakes. The forms are attached to the stakes with screws or special nails to allow for easy removal after the concrete has set up enough. Forms should be in good condition (not warped), be set to provide the proper slope or grade for drainage (minimum of 1/8 inch per foot for residential), and form clean corners where they meet each other or other structures. Special forms and or forming methods are used for stairs. Once the forms are in place, drain ditches are dug (if needed) and drains are placed. The last step is the re-bar for slab reinforcement. Re-bar will significantly extend the life of any slab and it also helps prevent cracks from becoming larger and separating.

Step 4 – Placement

driveway, walkway

The sub base is compacted; the forms are set, now it's time for the concrete. No matter where you live the minimum cement content for any residential concrete should be 470 lb. per yard of concrete; more for colder climates to help prevent scaling and spalling (top smooth finish wearing away exposing ruff aggregate). Small stone is used as aggregate in the concrete, Regular ¾ inch stone for broom or smooth finish concrete slabs. The concrete will arrive in a ready mix concrete truck. The drum on the back of the truck will be spinning slowly to keep the concrete inside from settling and getting hard. The ready mix truck may be able to pull up to the site and pour right into the forms. If the site is on the other side of the house or building, the ready mix truck may pour into wheel barrows or a concrete pump to get the wet concrete to the site. The wet concrete will be poured into the forms until they are full to the top edge. While the concrete is being poured, we will be using shovels, rakes and "come alongs" (special concrete rake) to move the concrete and to make sure there are no voids or air pockets. A rod screed is also used to assist with proper leveling.

Step 5 – Early Finishing

Decorative Concrete

Once wet concrete has been placed into the forms, a large metal or wood board is used to screed the top of the concrete. This screeding process helps compact and consolidate the concrete, and begins the smoothing and leveling of the top of the concrete. Once the surface has been screeded, the concrete is floated. This involves using a special trowel called a float. Floats can be a small hand held trowel for edges and detail work, or a large trowel called a bull float for working large areas of the concrete surface. The surface is floated to further compact the concrete, even out any depressions or high areas, and create a smooth finish on the surface. At the same time early finishing takes place, joints and edges are worked into the concrete with special hand tools..

Step 6 – Troweling

Concrete

If the concrete will be smooth toweled or stamped, a steel trowel finish is needed. The concrete will be left to rest until the surface begins to set up. Once firm, steel troweling is performed to create a smooth, hard and uniform finish across the concrete surface. Smooth troweling takes place with large metal steel trowels that are connected to poles and are called fresnos or funny trowel. We also get on knee-boards or sliders to apply a beautiful hand finish.

Step 7 –Finish

Driveway

Once all the troweling (float & steel) is completed, the final finish can be applied to the concrete. The most basic type of finish is known as a "broom finish". A special broom is pulled across the concrete surface creating a rough textured surface. Other types of finishes include stamped, exposed aggregate, or smooth trowel to name a few.

Step 8 – Curing

Decorative Concrete

Once all the placement and finishing is complete, the concrete can rest and begin to cure (get hard). The curing process lasts 28 days, with the first 48 hours being the most critical. If desired, a liquid chemical curing and sealing compound can be applied to the concrete as soon as the finishing process is complete. The curing compound helps the concrete cure slowly and evenly, which helps reduce cracks, curling, and surface discoloration. You can start to use your concrete for light foot traffic 3 to 4 days after placement, and you can drive and park on your concrete 5 to 7 days after placement.

Step 9 – Maintenance

Concrete Pool Decks Solid Rock Concrete Services

Concrete is a durable product, and if placed, finished and cured properly should last a lifetime. While concrete is often viewed as a NO maintenance product, consider the following simple maintenance procedures to increase the service life of your concrete. A good quality sealer is always a good idea. A cure and seal may be used the same day the concrete is placed, or a high quality sealer may be applied a month after the concrete is placed. Exterior concrete sealers can last anywhere from 1 to 5 years, depending primarily on environmental conditions. Occasional soap and water cleaning is also advised to keep your concrete looking its best. Sealing and regular maintenance will also minimize the chances from staining and discoloration caused by natural or manmade contamination.

 

a) A concrete mix of 4,000 psi (pounds per square inch) .50 water to cement ratio for driveways. This provides better wearability and a "denser" concrete than the typical 2500-psi mix,

b) The sub grade should be compacted and have an even thickness. A standard driveway is 4" thick; you want 4" thick continuously, not a 3" to 4" varying thickness. In the west it's even more important to pay attention to this since soils expand,

c) Reinforcement with steel bars (3/8 to 1/2 inch rebar) will significantly extend the life of your concrete.

d) Joints should be at least 25% of the thickness of the concrete- so a 1" deep joint should be used in a 4" thick concrete driveway. Joints should also be spaced 2-3 times in feet the thickness of the concrete: so a 4" thick driveway should have joints no farther than 8- 12 feet

e) If concrete is placed in weather below 40F, curing blankets should be used to keep the concrete warm during the initial few days of the curing process. Concrete should not be placed when temperatures will drop below 20F. The colder the temperature, the longer it will take concrete to cure.

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