If you are planning a concrete pad—new parking space, basketball court, hot tub spot, etc.—there are a few things to know before you do. Concrete pads can be handled by a well-intentioned DIY’er. Attention to detail, while building the pad, can yield a concrete surface that is durable and lasting for many years. The following is a brief account of the steps needed to take on the job.
Prep the area by removing all the vegetation, any places of soft, sinking soils, and rocks. It is best to lay concrete, if possible, on top of soil that is well packed.
Set up the concrete forms. Forms need to have a slope of at least two percent, which equates to ¼ inch per foot. This slope allows the pad to drain moisture.
With the forms in place, and mock scratch templates demonstrating that the slab will be the ideal size and thickness, it’s time to measure how much concrete you’ll need for the project. Calculate how many cubic yards of concrete you’ll need to put together the slab. You can use concrete calculators or provide your dimensions to Shotcrete when you make your concrete order.
When you decide to pour the concrete, pick a day when it’s not raining and there’s no foreseeable rain in the forecast. When the truck arrives, and the concrete is being poured, you’ll have to level it. Leveling the concrete is important, and by using a tool called a screed, which you can ride on the tops of your forms, pull the screed a little at a time to smooth down the concrete. When one side of the form is complete, do the other.
With the slab level, use a bull-float to settle any rocks or bring any holes to a close over the surface of the concrete. This will leave the concrete with a smooth finish. There is a limited time in which to level and float the concrete—try to get everything done in one hour or less. The longer it takes, the more the concrete dries.
Building a concrete slab can be intimidating, but if the process is taken in managed steps, most anyone can handle the process.