Concrete slabs provide a solid surface for anything from a family outing to a game of basketball. Previously, when the average homeowner wanted to add a concrete slab, he called a number of contractors to come out and give an estimate. Nowadays, most homeowners are savvy enough to build their own concrete slab. The job can be done in as little as a day, depending on the size of the slab.
Build The Form
Frame the form for pouring the slab. Most concrete slabs are poured 3 1/2 inches thick because a 2-by-4 is 3 1/2 inches thick, and that is what you will use for framing the slab. It is possible to use 2-by-6s, 2-by-8s or 2-by-10s, especially if you might be putting heavy weight such as cars on the slab, but 2-by-4s are the norm. Find a level spot and build your slab square. If you want your slab to be at ground level, then you will need to dig down the depth of the slab thickness. Attach the square framing using 3-inch wood screws. Stake it to the ground using wooden 2-by-4s cut 2 feet long with the ends cut to a point. Check the forms with a level to make sure the slab will be level. You may want to give the slab a slight pitch to allow for water runoff.
Figure the amount of concrete necessary for the pour. Multiply the width by the length (in feet). Multiply that number by .3 which corresponds to the height of your 3 1/2-inch slab. Divide that number by 27 and you will have the cubic yards necessary to pour the slab. For example, if your slab is 10 feet by 10 feet, then use this formula: 10 x 10 x .3 / 27 = 1.11 cubic yards of concrete. Concrete can be ordered in different strengths, such as 3000, 4000 and 5000 (these figures denote the pounds per square inch that the concrete can hold), and it can also be ordered with fiber added to further strengthen the concrete.
Pour and Finish Concrete
Pour the concrete and rake it to the top of the forms using a hard rake. Use a concrete finishing float to finish and smooth the concrete. Smooth and finish the edges using a concrete edger. Allow the concrete to cure for 24 hours before removing the forms, and wait one week before use. The hard rake, finishing float and edger can be rented or purchased from your local tool rental store. There is really no need to purchase these tools unless you will be pouring more than one slab. You can also rent a small concrete mixer for the job, or mix it by hand in a wheelbarrow.
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