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Plantool’s how to: Concrete laying

Need to lay concrete? Check out our how to guide below, along with the recommended the concrete laying equipment you’ll need to hire.

cement mixer

Concrete laying is something you can do yourself, providing that you’ve got the right tools!


Step 1: Preparation

Before you can start laying your concrete, you’ll need to clear the area of any objects or materials that could interfere with the pouring process. Make sure you get rid of any grass, rocks, trees and shrubbery. Basically you want to expose raw earth and have a completely clear surface to work on.

Once your surface is prepped, you can begin working on your subbase. This is the material that the concrete with lie on top of. Granular fill and road base are often used as subbases, however in some cases; you may be able to use soil. The thing to remember is that your concrete will only be as strong as the surface underneath it. Whichever material you choose as your subbase, you will need to lay a 4-8 inch layer of it and use a hand tamper to compact it.

When laying concrete, you’ll need to create a form. This is a wooden perimeter that is secured in place using special nails or screws. You build it around the pouring site to create a better finish. Your form should have a slight slope to it, to prevent water build up.


Step 2: Mixing and pouring

You can create concrete by mixing together cement, sand and gravel in a ratio of 1:2:4. You then add water to the dry mixture to bind the components. This can be done using a concrete mixer, available to hire from Plantool. Try not to overdo the water – although it’ll make it easier to pour, it won’t be as crack resistant as a dryer mix.

If you’re doing a DIY concrete laying job, it’s likely that you’re going to need to load your concrete into a wheelbarrow to pour it into the form you’ve created. Whilst you are pouring in the mix, get someone else to spread it out with a shovel.

Once your concrete has been spread out across the surface, you will need to remove the air from it, in order to improve its strength and durability. This can be done using a vibrating poker. The idea is that the vibrating action will encourage the concrete to become more fluid, which will get rid of any trapped air that has congregated in the concrete during the mixing process. This air will rise to the top in the form of bubbles, allowing you to effectively remove it from your concrete mix.


cement mixer

Screeds and floats are used to smooth out a concrete surface.

Step 3: Smoothing out your concrete

Whilst your concrete is still wet, you will need to use a vibrating beam screed to flatten it out. It’s best to start at the highest point. This piece of equipment involves jiggling a wide plank back and forth to create a flat surface. Once you’ve done this, your concrete will start to look a little more complete, however there is still an important step and that’s floating!

Once your concrete is down and you’ve levelled it out using a screed, you’ll want to give it a smooth finish. To do this, you’ll need to use a concrete float. This is basically a tool that removes surface imperfections and compacts the concrete. You can use a handheld concrete float to do this, however if you are working with a large surface area, we highly recommend hiring a power float (sometimes called a power trowel). Power floats have an engine and therefore allow you to carry out the job of smoothing out your concrete, much more quickly.

For a textured finish, use a broom such as Plantool’s Resno Broom attachment. It can be easily inserted onto the end of a pole such as the one pictured on the above image to apply a textured brush finish.


Final steps

Some people like to brush their concrete to create traction. Just make sure the markings you make on your concrete aren’t too deep, as to avoid water collecting in them. Once you’ve finished, you’ll need to seal your concrete and cure it for around 28 days. Using a sealant will help to prevent cracks and discolouration, whilst also assisting the curing process.

All of the tools you need for concrete laying including power floats, mixers, vibrating pokers, compaction plates, hand tampers and vibrating beam screeds are available to hire from Plantool. Get in touch for a quote.


Image credits: NAVFAC

Contact Plantool for expert advice on freephone 0800 334 5365

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