'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

12 November 2012

Concrete Day

No matter what the future brings life goes on. Including chores and projects. Besides, it may be very important to be able to do your own construction in the coming years. Shared skills and how to information are always worthwhile.

With the weather being bad on Friday and Saturday the concrete delivery got pushed back to Monday morning. 8 AM sharp. Only he didn't actually arrive until 8:15. Hey, what you gonna do?

Here's the main pour, formed up and ready to go. I decided to go with steel mesh instead of rebar. It's way easier to work with and adds sufficient reinforcement. And it's cheaper. 8 bucks for a 3x6 sheet. You also get great ground coverage. You can see my screed board across the forms. That is what we use to scrape the concrete even and level across the pour. Use a 2x6 for anything larger than a sidewalk otherwise it'll flex too much and your concrete will come out rounded and uneven.

The other two areas I wanted to get poured if there was enough concrete left over. Remember, I ordered a heavier load that I calculated as my minimum need. Turned out I had plenty.

 Tools of the trade. Shovels, rakes, hoe, steel and wood trowels, a spade trowel, screeds, a float (that thing with the long blue handle), edger and a good wheelbarrow.

We were kinda busy so I didn't get any shots of the pour but it's pretty boring anyway. He pulled in, deployed his chute and gave me a sample. This is important because it's your last chance to get the mixture the way you want it. Too dry and it's a bear to work with. Too thin and you run the risk of it running out under your forms and taking way too long to cure completely. My first batch was too thick so I had him add some water and we were off to the races. I had Lu and Sarge as my helpers and they were great laborers. I paid them later with some yummy breakfast burritos.

Screeding consists of simply dragging the 2x6 screed across the top of the forms, filling in voids and dragging off excess as you go until your form is full and even. Don't worry about the finish at this point as floating, hand troweling and final finishing (in my case brooming) will take care of imperfections in the surface.

Ok, pour done and screeded, time to float the concrete. This consists of running a float back and forth across the surface many, many times. It settles the aggregate, brings the water to the top and gives you a smooth finish. It's critical because the aggregate needs to be settled properly for a strong final product. Don't skimp on this step. Keep at it and don't worry about creases. You'll get them but we'll take them out later with trowels and in the end with a broom finish. A word on floating. The float needs to glide and not dig in.  You do that by raising and lowering the float handle so the leading edge of the float itself is up. In that first shot you can see the handle raised above my head. That's pulling the float toward me, closest edge leading and up. The second shot shows the handle low. That's pushing the float away from me, furthest edge leading and up. Make sense?

The other two pours done. On these smaller ones I float with first steel and then wood trowels. They're too small for the big float. Lu handled both of these with a little help from Sarge. That woman is a keeper.

A little clean up. When working with concrete it's important to take care of your tools sooner rather than later. It's much easier to wash and hose it off when the concrete is still wet. Chipping it off when it's set is a major pain. We use the wheel barrow like a giant wash pot.

The finished product after I broomed the surface. All that consists of is putting a soft broom head on a very long pole and lightly dragging it over the surface until the top is uniform. It leaves a rough surface that is easy to do, gives good traction in wet and snow and looks great. I like it and use it whenever I can. It's perfect for the DIYer because you don't have to have professional finishing skills.
I had to put up a barrier because this is in the back yard and I didn't want a bunch of  paw prints in it. Not that I know anyone who'd do that.

We had just a bit more left so Lu filled a couple of spots along the fence, near the carport. This is part of the old irrigation ditch. A pass through to divert the water from one ditch to another.

The clean out. Remember when I said to have a place for the driver to do a wash of his chute? This is ours. Not too bad. Overall a very small overage we couldn't use. Not enough to worry about.

2.75 yards of concrete, poured and finished in about 3 1/2 hours. Well within the ability of most any DIYer. When I first started doing concrete I started with small projects I poured with hand mixed. The first large project I did was the garage slab, 14x31 feet and almost 7 yards. I was sleepless with anxiety the night before but it went well. Plan out your pour, do your homework, get the prep correct and the rest is pretty straight forward. Screed it level, float it well, hand trowel the edges and any voids you find and do a simple finish. A couple of friends and a few hours of labor later and you can have concrete anywhere you want or need it. Don't let it intimidate you. If I can do it anyone can.

Total bill for the concrete was $292.00. I got a bid for this work in a moment of weakness. It came in at $1,000.00. I saved more than enough to do the rest of the driveway just by doing the work myself. Well, with a little help from Lu and Sarge. Thanks guys!

I'll start the prep on the rest of the driveway this week and probably do the remaining pour next week. I figure another 4 yards and I'll be done with concrete for a while.



Rev. Paul said...

Nice work.

Six said...

Thanks Rev!

Keads said...


Six said...

Gracias Kelly!

instinct said...

Well, I know who to call if I need help doing a pour.

So, do you take payment in beer???

Six said...

Yep. Only the good stuff though. None of that Lite stuff!

Paladin said...

Nicely done :)

I worked lots of concrete growing up. Everything from sidewalks to patios to foundations for barns/sheds. I can't remember EVER doing it when it was less that 100 degrees outside. I had to do a double take when I saw sweatshirts in the pictures. It confused me :)

Old NFO said...

Nice work, and help is ALWAYS necessary for jobs that size, good thing you had GOOD help :-) And thankfully it was not on a grade. BTDT, did NOT have fun!

Six said...

Thanks Paladin. If I'd taken an earlier picture you'd have seen us wearing coats. It was cold that morning but it's amazing how quickly hard physical labor will heat you up.

Thanks NFO. Man, You got that right. Yeah, pouring on a grade really does suck. If I need to do that can I send you a plane ticket? :) I have adult beverages and free BBQ every day!