The Basics of Installing Concrete Structures

The Basics of Installing Concrete Structures

How to Create a Concrete Patio

April 08, 2022 8 Read

Concrete is one of the most versatile and widely used construction materials globally. It is strong, durable, and easy to work with, making it a popular choice for residential and commercial projects.

If you’re planning on installing a concrete structure on your property, there are a few things you need to know about the process. This article will give you an overview of installing concrete structures, from preparing the site to pouring the concrete itself. Do it yourselfers will find this helpful guide.

Pouring concrete is usually done for creating flat surfaces such as the floor of a house or an outdoor patio. Here are the steps on how to create a concrete patio.

Preparing the Site

The first step in any concrete installation project is the prep work for the site to pour concrete on. Prep work includes clearing away debris or vegetation, leveling out the ground, and putting down a layer of gravel. Once the site is prepared, you can begin setting the forms.

Concrete forms are wooden or metal frames that will hold the concrete in place until it dries. They come in various sizes and shapes, so you’ll need to choose the right ones for your project. A more modern concrete form is made out of polystyrene, known as the insulated concrete form. Insulating concrete forms or ICFs are becoming a popular choice by general housing contractors for creating concrete houses. Once the concrete forms are set up, you’re ready to start using the concrete mixer.

Preparing the Concrete Mix

Concrete is made up of cement, sand, gravel, and water. The proportions of these ingredients will vary depending on the concrete you’re using. For most projects, a ratio of one part cement to two parts sand to four parts gravel is a good starting point. Some manufacturers offer ready-mix concrete. Most general contractors prefer ready mix concrete because it’s easier to work with. Ready-mix concrete will also save time because you won’t have to mix it on site. Using ready-mix concrete for your concrete project is also more cost-effective on a per square footage cost because the concrete is mixed in batches by the ready-mix truck drivers.

Pouring the Concrete

Once the concrete mix is ready, it’s time to start pouring. For smaller projects like a backyard patio, you can use a wheelbarrow to transport the concrete to where it needs to be poured. For larger projects such as the whole floor of a local building department, you’ll need to use a concrete pump to pour the concrete. Once the concrete is in place, you’ll need to smooth it out with hand tools such as a steel trowel. It is essential to level the concrete since a smooth concrete surface will look more appealing and be easier to clean.

Letting the Concrete Harden and Dry

After you’ve smoothed out the concrete, it’s time to let it dry. The drying process can take a few hours to a few days depending on the weather conditions. It is best to avoid scheduling pouring concrete under freezing temperatures. You’ll need to keep the concrete moist by spraying it with water several times daily. Once the concrete is dry, you can remove the forms and enjoy your new concrete structure!

Basic Steps in Creating a Concrete Slab

Creating concrete slabs is different from creating floors or patios. Concrete labs can be moved; therefore, the way to create them differs. To create concrete slabs, you’ll need to use slip forming. Slip forming is a continuous pouring process that creates a smooth surface as the concrete dries.

Creating the Foundation

The first step in creating a concrete slab is to create the foundation. The foundation needs to be level and made out of compacted soil. Once the foundation is complete, you can begin setting up the forms.

Setting Up the Forms

The form boards of a concrete slab are different from those used for patios or floors. They need to be tall enough so that when the concrete is poured, it will be level with the ground once it dries. You’ll also need to ensure that the forms are securely attached, so they don’t move when you pour concrete on them.

Pouring the Concrete

When you’re ready to pour the concrete, you’ll need to use a slip-forming machine. This machine will create a continuous concrete pour on the forms. Once the forms are filled, the concrete pour stops at the desired slab’s thickness. As the concrete dries, it will create a smooth surface. However, some homeowners do not want a very smooth concrete surface and would like to have a broom finish on their floors.

Letting the Concrete Dry

Once the forms are full, you’ll need to let the concrete dry. Depending on the weather conditions, the concrete hardening process can take a few hours to a few days. You’ll need to keep the concrete moist by spraying it with water several times daily. Once the concrete is dry, you can remove the forms and enjoy your new slab!

Pouring concrete to create concrete slabs is the same as creating large slabs or smaller ones. However, a large slab will need more significant amounts of wet concrete mix to reach the desired line level.

Steps in Creating Concrete Walls

Concrete walls are different from concrete slabs. They are made with cinderblocks filled with concrete and reinforced with steel rebar. Creating concrete walls is the same as creating concrete slabs, but you’ll need to use cinderblocks instead of forms.

Creating the Foundation

The first step in creating a concrete wall is to create the foundation. The foundation needs to be level and made of compacted and well-drained soil. Once the foundation is complete, you can begin setting up the cinderblocks.

Setting Up the Cinderblocks

When setting up the cinderblocks, you’ll need to start at one end of the wall and work your way to the other. Make sure that each block is level with the one before it. Once all the cinderblocks are in place, you can begin filling them with concrete.

Filling the Cinderblocks with Concrete

When filling the cinderblocks with concrete, you’ll need to use a trowel to fill each block until it’s flush with the top. Once all the blocks are filled, you can reinforce the wall with steel rebar.

Reinforcing the Wall with Steel Rebar

Steel rebar is essential in reinforcing concrete walls. The rebar will help strengthen the wall and prevent cracking. To support the wall, you’ll need to insert the rebar into the wet concrete and secure it.

Letting the Concrete Dry

Once the wall is reinforced, you’ll need to let the concrete dry. Depending on the weather conditions, the concrete hardening process can take a few hours to a few days. You’ll need to keep the concrete moist by spraying it with water several times daily. Once the concrete is dry, your new wall will be complete!

Tips in Handling Wet Concrete

  • Wet concrete is hefty. Do not try to lift it yourself as you might hurt your back.
  • When transporting wet concrete, use a wheelbarrow or a concrete pump.
  • Always wear gloves when handling wet concrete.
  • Remove the air pockets from wet concrete using a rod or steel trowel. These pockets can weaken the concrete structure.
  • Wet concrete should be kept moist to prevent drying out and cracking.
  • Do not pour wet concrete under colder temperatures, damaging the concrete mix.
  • Wet concrete can be challenging to clean off your skin and clothes. Wear rubber gloves, safety glasses, and old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • Make sure to keep wet concrete moist during the drying process by spraying it down with water several times a day.
  • Use vegetable oil as a releasing agent before pouring wet concrete on the forms. This will help prevent the concrete from sticking to the form boards.
  • If you accidentally spill wet concrete on your clothes, immediately remove them and rinse the affected area with cold water.

Average Cost of a Concrete Installation Project

The average cost most homeowners will pay for a concrete installation project is $3,000. This includes the cost of materials such as bagged concrete and labor. Bagged concrete has an average price of $60 per square foot, while labor costs average $30 per hour for most general housing contractors. The total cost will also depend on the size per square foot and the project’s scope. For example, a more extensive project will require more concrete and labor, which will increase the overall cost. The square foot your concrete project has, the price for cement and labor will be significantly higher for large jobs. Likewise, choosing a more elaborate design for your concrete surface will incur additional costs.

Handling Concrete Surface

Concrete is a durable and long-lasting material, but it is not indestructible. It can crack and chip if it is not installed correctly. Likewise, a concrete surface can get damaged from weathering, wear and tear, and even staining.

To avoid these problems, it is essential to take care of your concrete surface using a concrete sealer. Here are some tips on how to do so:

  • Sweep the surface regularly to remove dirt, dust, and debris.
  • Mop the surface with a mild soap and water solution to remove stains.
  • Remove surface water immediately, especially on exposed concrete floors.
  • Seal the surface with a concrete sealer every few years to protect it from damage.
  • Repair cracks and chips as soon as they appear.
  • Use mats or rugs at entryways to reduce wear and tear.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or cleaners on the surface.

Concrete is a versatile and long-lasting material that can be used for various purposes. It is essential to take care of your concrete surface by sweeping it regularly, mopping it with a mild soap and water solution, and sealing it with a concrete sealer every few years. If you have any cracks or chips, repair them as soon as possible. With proper care, your concrete surface will last for many years!