Concrete has a wide range of uses, from building courtyards and entrances to the creation of sculptures and driveways. It is very versatile, economical and durable. However, to use concrete, you must be willing to invest some effort. While it is always advisable to hire a Vancouver paving company for any large scale concrete work, you can take up the occasional small concrete home task yourself.
Make the project plan carefully
Having a thorough plan for the project will serve to avoid many problems. Define the area where to place the concrete, work out a plan and jot down all the measurements. Remember to leave space for drainage and make sure the water does not run into an unwanted location.
Purchase or borrow the necessary materials
You will need cement for general use, either Type I or Type II cement. The latter is used for structures in water, soil with moderate amounts of sulfate or wherever it’s excessively hot. You’ll also need clean sand, gravel and crushed limestone. Depending on the size of the project, maybe you need a truck to help you carry cement to the workplace.
Build or buy a mixing vessel
Build a mixing box with wooden planks or use a robust wheelbarrow to mix the materials. If the project is rather large on scope, rent a power mixer to save time.
Use wooden boards to mount forms to contain the wet concrete, making sure they have enough strength to support the weight of concrete. Check whether the forms are level. Confirm that the measurements of the forms correspond with the measurements that you had defined in your work plan.
Mix the cement and sand
There are several common methods for preparing a concrete mixture. One option is to create a basic (not concrete) mortar mix which is made using water, cement and sand in proportions of 1: 2: 3 measured by volume. The other option is to create cement for general use using cement, sand and gravel in proportions of 1: 2: 3.
Add gravel or crushed stone
Add gravel or crushed stone in a ratio of 5 parts gravel to 1 part of sand and cement mixture. The gravel does not affect the tensile strength of concrete negatively. However, if the gravel does not leave an adequate amount of cement paste to seal the fissures between the gravel it may be because you added a lot of it.
Add water to the mixture slowly, stirring continuously until the concrete acquires sufficient fluidity to fill the space within the forms.
Mix the concrete
Keep mixing until the concrete shows an unvarying consistency. The texture needs to be uniform throughout the mixture. Continue mixing for a couple of minutes to start the hydration process, which will ultimately cause concrete to harden.
Pour the concrete
Pour the concrete, patting all edges to eliminate air pockets and let it sit firmly and uniformly. Use a bulldozer or a flat table to level the concrete surface. The thin malleable cement paste can be finished with a brush, broom or trowel when it begins to harden.
Let it dry and finish the concrete
After leveling, leave the concrete until it is firm enough to be finished without tools leaving marks. For very large slabs, you’ll need a broom or possibly steamroller machine. Steamrolling work would be best left to a professional paving contractor. After placing and finishing the concrete, shield and protect it from extreme weather conditions for a couple of days.
Clean the workplace and the equipment
Collect and clean all the tools and the mixing bowl as soon as you are done using them. The rental company may charge an additional cleaning fee if you return dirty equipment.