Developing Concrete Skills


Concrete is generally an easy-enough to use building material. And a beginner can usually get the hang of working with concrete quickly and painlessly; however, this does not mean that a beginner is going to execute a concrete job flawlessly. There are tips and tricks to working with concrete that take time to be mastered. For instance, oftentimes making the concrete forms and then pouring the concrete isn’t difficult, and it can be performed by the most novice. However, the finishing of the concrete—the look of it—is what will separate the novice from the most experienced. Here are a few helpful tips to remember when you are finishing the concrete on your next project.

Screeding the concrete refers to the process of pushing and pulling a screed (a board that levels the concrete—could be a two by four) over the surface of wet concrete and pushes the heavier aggregate down into the mixture. While you are screeding, plan, before you do it, how you will push and pull the screed over the concrete so that you fill any low spots and flatten-out any of the high spots.

Then use a bull float (rent one if you don’t have one and aren’t going to be using it all the time) and make only a few passes over the top of the screed surface, if you overwork the concrete, too much of the fine particulate within the mixture will go to the surface and this will make for a weak surface when it dries. Then edge the concrete along the edges of the form. The form should be your guide as you work the edger down. You want smooth edges, but again don’t overwork the concrete, take your time, plan what you are going to do before you do it. Then comes the tricky part: floating the concrete.

To use a concrete float with precision takes some practice. Obviously, concrete isn’t the kind of building material you can just “practice” on repeatedly, it dries and then is permanent. But if you are planning to do a big concrete job soon, consider if you have a smaller job somewhere on your property that is less conspicuous. Then you can practice your skills before the big job.