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Tips on Concreting Around Your Home

Concrete is very durable and reasonably cheap for creating a level surface. Whether for a concrete pad, a patio or a walk way, it is great for DIY projects around your home. Pouring concrete is usually left in the hands of a concrete contractor because it can be complicated to get a professional finish, so find out what you can do to make the process and finished product even and sturdy.

Here are some tips:

  • Prepare the site appropriately – you should have the site around your home dug out and packed well. Use a hand tamping tool for a clean job and for better drainage; add 2 inches of gravel to the top of heavy soil.
  • Have the right concrete – you can mix your own, but for larger jobs it's well worth the expense of a concrete truck delivering the product directly to your home. Make sure to get a concrete that is easy to work with, yet durable. 
  • Needed tools – you will need clean, solid tools on hand and in reach when working with concrete. A wheelbarrow, round point shovels, concrete or heavy duty garden rakes, a magnesium finishing tool and a wood hand float, a stack of straight wooden 2 by 4's, an industrial push broom and a joining tool.
  • Steel support – for the optimum strength, implant reinforcing steel into the poured concrete. Set a framework of steel bars on top of flat rocks within the forms. Sit the steel about 2 inches up and pour the concrete around it.
  • Pour the right thickness – plan for a minimum 4" thickness, but 5" is better. That is pretty strong enough for residential applications like walk ways or patios around the house.
  • Use water sparingly – lightly wet down the soil and gravel before pouring concrete to cut down the amount of water that is sucked directly out of the mixture as it sets on the ground. Do not add any water to the concrete or you will change the toughness and stability of it. 
  • Work carefully but quickly – once the concrete is poured you have only a limited amount of time to work on it. So it's always best if you get some people to work with you if you're working on a big portion around your home. 
  • Smooth out the concrete to push aggregate down – this is the most important step as this allows the sand and cement to make their way to the top. You can also use your broom to create an attractive pattern. 
  • Always time your installation – the hotter the air temperature, the shorter time you have to work with it as the concrete will harden quicker. Aim to complete your pouring when the air temperature is a bit cool.