Whether it’s a driveway, patio, or commercial building, a level concrete surface ensures structural integrity, safety, and clean appearance. Uneven concrete surfaces can lead to various problems, such as water pooling, cracks, and trip hazards. These issues not only affect the functionality of the space but also decrease its overall value.
Here are 9 steps to ensure high-quality concrete surfaces:
1. Gathering the Necessary Tools and Materials
Before starting the project, it’s important to gather all the required tools and materials to ensure a smooth leveling process. Some essential items include a concrete mix, water, a shovel, a wheelbarrow, a screed board, a float, a trowel, an edger, and a jointer. Don’t forget protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and boots for safety!
2. Preparing the Subgrade
The subgrade is the soil directly beneath concrete slabs. Properly preparing it ensures a stable and even foundation. First, remove debris, plants, roots, or rocks from the area. Then, compact the soil using a plate compactor or hand tamper. Lastly, check the soil’s moisture content. If it’s too dry, add water; if it’s too wet, allow it to dry before proceeding. Ideally, your soil should be damp, but not wet.
3. Setting up the Formwork
Formwork is the temporary structure that holds concrete in place until it hardens. To set up the formwork, measure and mark the slab’s perimeter. Then, cut wooden stakes and boards to the desired height and length. Install the stakes and boards, ensuring they are straight, and use a level and string line for accuracy.
4. Mixing and Pouring Concrete
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to mix the concrete. Typically, you must use a shovel to combine the concrete mix with water in a wheelbarrow. Once mixed, pour the concrete into the formwork, starting at one end and working across. Use the shovel to spread the concrete evenly.
5. Screeding the Concrete
Screeding involves leveling the concrete surface using a straight-edged board. Place the screed board on top of the formwork, with one person holding each end. Next, move the screed board in a sawing motion, pulling it across the surface of the concrete. Remove any excess concrete as you go along, and repeat the process until the entire surface is level.
6. Floating the Concrete
Floating helps to smooth the surface and remove any imperfections caused by screeding. To float the concrete, you must first wait for the concrete to stiffen slightly. You will also need a bull or hand float to glide over the surface sweepingly. Then, apply light pressure to avoid digging into the concrete. Repeat this process as needed, changing the direction each time for a smoother finish.
7. Troweling the Concrete
Troweling gives the concrete a smooth and professional finish. First, wait until the surface has hardened enough to hold your weight without leaving indentations. You will then hold the trowel at a slight angle and apply pressure to the surface. Move the trowel in an arc, smoothing out any remaining imperfections, and repeat the process until the desired finish is achieved.
8. Edging and Jointing the Concrete
Edging and jointing help prevent cracks and create a clean, professional appearance. Use an edger to create a rounded edge along the slab’s perimeter. Then, use a jointer to create control joints regularly (usually every 8-12 feet). These joints allow the concrete to expand and contract without cracking.
9. Curing the Concrete
Curing is the technique of maintaining moisture in the concrete to ensure it hardens properly. Apply a curing compound or cover the surface with plastic sheeting to retain moisture. You must also keep the concrete moist for at least 7 days by periodically misting the surface with water. In addition, avoid using the concrete for heavy loads until it has fully cured, usually after 28 days.
Achieve Flawless Concrete Surfaces With Superior Masonry
Looking for professional assistance to achieve that perfectly level concrete surface? At Superior Masonry, our experienced team is committed to delivering the best results for your driveways, patios, or commercial buildings! We provide exceptional craftsmanship and use top-quality materials to ensure longevity and visual appeal for your structures.