Unless you’re using a professional company, you may not be used to laying concrete, or indeed, you might be put off from concreting yourself as it can seem like quite a daunting (and often labour intensive) task, especially if it is a large area.
However, with some good preparation, there’s no reason why you take on the task of laying concrete.
Step 1 – Measuring and Mixing
For concrete to work, you need to achieve the right level of consistency. This means, getting your mixing ratios right.
The mixing elements for concrete include sand, cement, aggregate, and water.
Ratios consist of Water to cement 1:1 and sand to aggregate 3:1
A strong concrete mix will be made up of one cement, one water, three sand, and three aggregate.
At this stage, what you mix it in doesn’t really matter, as long as you get your ratios right!
However, for larger projects, it will be worth considering hiring a concrete mixer, as it can save you both time and effort.
Step 2 – Prepare the Area
It’s important to work out how much ground space you’re looking to cover (usually worked out in cubic metres) so that you can work out how much concrete needs mixing.
You’ll also need, for larger areas, a wooden framework to hold the concrete in place, as well as laying and tamping equipment to smooth and flatten the surface.
Step 3 – Laying the concrete
Once you have securely framed out the designated area, dug to the depth you require (enough to carry off any surface water), you then need to think about the surface you will be pouring the concrete onto.
In some cases, concrete can be poured onto bare earth; however, in most cases, a layer of hardcore will be required.
To help it bond better, it’s recommended to sprinkle some water onto the sub-base before putting the concrete down.
Step 4 – Screeding and tamping
This process is usually done with 2×4 wooden planks. Placed on top of the concrete and moved forward and backwards across the surface.
This method helps to compact the concrete down and in some instances, you might also find it useful to spread the concrete with a rake to get as even a surface as possible.
Once it has been screened, the concrete is then “floated” using special trowels, smoothing out any small depressions.
Step 5 – The finishing touches
Concrete will usually take several days to harden properly ready for use.
However, before the surface has completely set, many people will use a brush over the top, to roughen it up just a little.
Once it has completely set, all frameworks can be removed, and any edging can be properly cleaned.
You can also find several sealants now available, which you can use on the surface of the concrete helping to add texture, prevent dust, and most importantly stop the area from becoming slippery.
Why hiring a concrete mixer is a good idea
Now, you’ve decided that you’re going to tackle the task of concreting yourself, it might be a good idea to consider hiring a concrete mixer.
Because, ultimately, mixing concrete is a laborious task!
We’re not brushing aside hard work, but for mixing concrete, you need to be relatively fit and strong, to get the best results and overall compound consistency.
Hand mixing concrete also means you have to work fast! Mainly because the concrete itself will tend to set faster. And if not kept on top of, it can go off even before it’s been applied.
Of course, these are the most obvious reasons for choosing to hire a cement mixer, but there are also some much more scientific reasons as to why mixers are a good idea.
- Using a concrete mixer can give you a stronger, longer-lasting concrete mix. Often much more substantial than what you get by mixing concrete by hand.
- A concrete mixer ultimately, combines all of the components in the same way, every single time, which means that there is less likelihood of any weak points appearing in the compound.
- Cement particles are further broken down by the repetitive mixing process, promoting complete dispersion of the mixture. Blending and folding the water smoothly into the mix.
- Cement mixers help to make sure everything is thoroughly mixed together due to the rotating blades and the ongoing stirring action, which helps to create a strong compound.
- Getting extremely scientific, the chances of particle adhesion being reduced by dust is more unlikely to happen because the consistent mixing helps to promote the collision and friction of the particles.
- Because a concrete mixer can mix much faster than what can be achieved by hand, the homogenisation of the particles is sped up, providing you with a much higher quality cement which much lower amounts of effort required.
Is now the time to quicken up your concrete mixing pace? To improve the quality of your cement? To look for plant hire companies in York to help you get through jobs and projects faster?