How to Lay Concrete Slabs

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Working with a concrete slab is labor intensive, so it is best to get two or three of your friends to help out. Concrete dries rather quickly and must be in place and leveled within an hour or so of pouring. There are a number of things needed to be put in place before pouring the concrete. Here are a few guidelines that will help you with this project.

Things You'll Need

  • Wheel barrow
  • Concrete rake
  • Trowel with handle
  • Pea gravel
  • 1/8-inch wire mesh
  • Plastic water barrier
  • 5 lbs. of Reddi Mix (more depending on size of footer)
  • Shovel
  • Chalk line
  • Level gauge
  • Four markers at four corners of footer
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Use a chalk line tool to mark off the area where the concrete is to be poured. Use marking sticks to define the four corners of the slab. Once the boundaries are marked off, begin digging the outer boundaries of the slab.

  • After establishing the boundaries, begin digging from the center to the boundary markers. The slab shape should be dug to 12 inches in depth. Use a bubble level to check the form. Use a tape measure to check the depth. Once the depth and form are the right, Use 2 by 4s cut to the length of each side of the slab to create a form into which the concrete can be poured.

  • Pour enough pea gravel to go an inch in depth. Level the pea gravel using your bubble level. Once the depth and level are established, cut the plastic moisture barrier to cover the entire form except the wooden barriers. Lay the plastic over the pea gravel, and check the level with your bubble gauge.

  • Next, use 1/8-inch wire mesh to cover the form except for the wooden barriers. Use bolt cutters to cut any excess wire that hangs over the form. Now, you are ready to mix up some concrete.

  • Using your wheel barrel, pour in a 5 lb. bag of Reddi Mix powdered concrete mix. Add water per the instructions on the bag. Use your hoe to mix the water and concrete until all powder is mixed with water and all lumps removed. Use the concrete rake, if necessary, to combine the concrete with water. Pour the concrete mix into the footer, and spread it with your long-handle trowel.

  • Continue this process until the concrete reaches the top of the form. Use a hand trowel to smooth out the concrete, and use your bubble level to make sure the footer is level throughout its length and width. Allow the form to dry for about an hour before walking on it. The concrete has to cure before that can happen.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear rubber boots or boots that you can throw away. Dried concrete is almost impossible to get off your boots.
  • Wear safety glasses throughout the procedure.
  • Wash hands or anywhere concrete touches your body. The chemical reaction can irritate the skin and cause chemical burns.
  • Keep concrete from hands and eyes to prevent irritation.
  • Do not step in drying concrete as you may end up being part of the footer.
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