A Guide to Pouring Concrete

This guide to pouring concrete show you how to pour a smooth surface for floors, a straight path or driveway and foundations, includes the composition of concrete, site preparation and building simple forms.

| April/May 2002

This guide to pouring concrete makes easy work of a DIY project.

Call concrete a pillar of civilization. It's unbeatable for making smooth, flat, strong, all-weather surfaces. Concrete pads make the best floors for garages, sheds and workshops. Outdoor paths and driveways can be made beautiful by pressing a textured rubber mat into still soft, colored concrete. The convincing patterns of paving bricks or flagstones left behind look great and come at a fraction of the trouble of the real thing.

But despite the advantages, there's still some mystery surrounding concrete in the do-it-yourself community. Homesteaders are sometimes afraid to use it on their own. Perhaps this is because most of the visible concrete jobs are big, commercial affairs surrounded by roaring ready-mix trucks and a lot of wildly gesticulating, dirt-caked workers. The first thing to understand is that backyard concrete work isn't the same cross between rocket science and pyramid building that commercial construction sites appear to be.

This guide to pouring concrete makes pouring concrete easy. Using concrete to make your place better is a simple, three-part process any able-bodied person can handle. The first phase-building forms to contain and shape the material-is one of the easiest carpentry tasks going. Mixing concrete, or arranging to have some ready-mix delivered, is just like dealing with a whole bunch of pancake batter. And the third part — the fun you'll have smoothing and finishing the concrete — should remind you of the good old days when you had a single-digit age and an interest in sneaking a garden hose into the sandbox to joyously wet and smooth a pile of muck.

What is Concrete?

Concrete is a moistened mixture of three dry ingredients: Portland cement, sand and crushed stone, in roughly a 1-2-4 blend. You can buy small quantities of dry, just-add-water concrete mix in 50-pound paper bags, but this costs way too much to be practical for even the smallest pad. In the do-it-yourself, pad-pouring game you need to decide between two other concrete procurement options: site mixed concrete you make yourself by combining ingredients in an electric- or gas-powered drum mixer, or readymixed, truck-delivered concrete like the big boys use.

I prefer mixing onsite when the job requires less than, say, two dozen full wheelbarrow loads of concrete at a time.

12/3/2013 5:12:06 AM

Create-A-Curb, Inc. provides the greater East Valley, Phoenix, Arizona area with stylish concrete landscape borders, concrete curbing, residential curbing, commercial curbing, curb restoration, parking lot curbs and large curbs.

9/14/2008 2:46:05 PM

I currently have a four inch pad that is too low, and want to pour an additional 3-4 inches on top of this pad...what do I have to do to insure a successful adhesion of one pad to the other? Thank you.

4/13/2007 9:08:25 AM

Using a board to level concrete is called screeding, not screening. My dictionary doesn't like the word screeding but it's okay with screed.

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