How to Finish Concrete
Different steps are required before you can arrive at a concrete; you would have mixed water with cement and gravel or sand before you can come at making a concrete. Most people do not understand, particularly those that are not into construction work that there is more to making a concrete than mixing, pouring, and watch it hard. You need to make a good finishing, finishing in the sense that you will give it an excellent shape that will let it look attractive and smooth. Note you need to make thing nappy under hot weather so that the concrete will not dry off in the making. Let’s not waste time and move to the step by step guide on how to put a hunk of concrete to an excellent look. Here is what you need to know.
- Leveling at the starting stage:
The is the first stage and what you need to do at this stage is to pour your concrete on the areas where you would like to make the concrete and spread it. The second thing to do is to compress the concrete, note that this is only necessary if there is a need for it. There may be no need for compression, but if you choose to do so, make sure you are working based on professional advice. But if you realize there is a need for you to compress/stamp, do that with your hand or any tapping tool. The third step for the leveling stage is to place a 2x4 stick across the concrete. The size of the stick should be long enough to go beyond each side of the forms, which is mostly called a screed board. The fourth step is to use the 2x4 screed board to level the concrete. The fourth step requires some sub-steps, which we will be explaining as follows. Use the screed board to pull and push the concrete forward and backward to prevent tearing as you try to level the surface. Ensure you keep a space of 1 inch, which is about 2.5cm at the front of the edge at all times. Pour more concrete to level up openings. Lastly, push excess concrete against the forms for easy removal with the required tools.
- Completing Stage one: at this stage, you need to make use of a bull float. A bull float is a tool with a flat head mostly used to flatten ridges and holes. The bull float must have the following requirements. It must have round edges and not the common ones with flat or straight ends. It must be something moveable across the slab back and forth. Do not forget that the concrete you are working on start to harden immediately you pour it on the form most notably during hot weather that is why you have to make sure you have completed every necessary step before water begins to leak onto the concrete’s surface. The second step is to get an alternative tool for use; this option is not compulsory. The alternative tool we are trying to explain is short-handled magnesium float that does the same job as the bull float, but the reason for it is that it is a shorter device compared to the bull float. If you feel comfortable with it, you may not need to get a bull float again. The third step of stage two is to tidy all corners using a smaller tool. What we mean here is that you will need an edging machine (device) that will help you create smooth and more durable edges. These jobs are things that both the bull float and short-handled tool cannot do. The fourth step is to give your concrete an excellent groove cut. These joints are called control joints, get a snap line to help you mark out the joints before you cut while you keep your tool straight as you try to cut out. In case your cutting is already drying off and seems cracking try to get a dry cut saw that would help cut the desired portion you are aiming. However, if you are embarking on larger projects, you can alternatively use a long-handled marking tool. The fifth step is to exercise patience just for the concrete to dry partially. A lot of experience will be needed at the fifth stage; the reason is that a lot of factors determine the timing when and how the concrete looks set to dry. However, as the concrete tries to put itself together, you will realize that water will settle on top of it. You have to wait for the water to evaporate and as you try to move to the next stage and you realize that the concrete is still wet you will have to wait for it to dry completely after which you will need to be wetting it with water to make it very strong. The sixth stage is to add a colour hardener. Although the nature of concrete you want to make will determine if you need to add the colour hardener. Make sure you are adding colour based on the specification on the label of the colouring container. Note that colour hardener can only be applied on a horizontal surface only with proper safety equipment to avoid inhalation
- Concluding stage two: the first thing to do at this stage is to smoothen the surface again with a float. This stage depends on your choice of tool, but a long float tool will be of great help so that you will not have to step on the concrete in case it’s a large concrete so that you will not deform it. Secondly try to consider using a trowel finish, as you decide to use a trowel, and feel you need to extend, try to kneel on a slab to prevent leaving deep impressions. The third thing to do is to do a broom finish. Most people who try to finish their concrete jobs usually use a broom to give a mark on it. Do not forget to wash the broom immediately after use on the concrete so that it will be usable some other times and for some other purposes. The fourth step to take is to cure the concrete. Curing the concrete is the final stage of your work, and this may take several weeks, it requires the use of concrete curing chemicals, concrete curing chemicals are used mostly for professional jobs. In case you apply these chemicals avoid stepping on it for at least 24 hours while other devices like bicycles should stay away for at least 1 week and cars should keep away for a minimum of 2 weeks. However, a complete curing process takes up to 30 days. The fifth and final step of the whole process is to seal the concrete. After you have successfully cured your concrete for 30 days, try to seal it with a concrete sealer before you do those make sure the concrete is before you finally decide to apply the sealer. However, allow the sealer to dry off before to step on it or before placing anything on it for a period of 3 days.
Concrete Finishing Techniques
The use of concrete for different purposes is well known all around the world. This versatile material shows its beauty (looking good) outside itself and keeps its strength inward (the ingredients used to make it strong). The outside look, which is usually called the exterior passes through different processes depending on the maker to give it a beautiful look. In this little piece, we will guide you in the best way and the necessary materials needed to arrive at a smooth, durable finish on concrete.
The best way to have an excellent finishing on your concrete is to master and practice how to use the necessary tools needed for the finishing. The easiest and most common style are the ones created with the use of a trowel and screeds. Finishers put this to best by pouring concretes in the form and finally using the screed to level out the concrete surface. Screeds are a long piece of metal or wood used across the concrete, helping to remove concrete to create space for a new shape while filling the gap on the surface of the moulded concrete.
Troweling or floating
This stage requires that the concrete mixers first tool the concrete with a screed before proceeding to use trowels to smoothen the surface of the concrete, there is no technology needed for this purpose; it is done manually with a hand trowel pushed and pulled across the concrete surface. Concrete mixers implore the use of power trowels for large commercial and industrial projects, most notably where hand trowels could not handle more significant projects. They are available in both walk behind and riding versions.
Concrete edging takes place for two reasons; the first reason is to create rounded or beveled edges on a finished concrete the second reason is to create joints where necessary to avoid cracking on the surface of the concrete. Edging is achieved through the use of a specific edging tool and requires regular practice to master.
The broom finish is explicitly needed to make a concrete surface slip resistant. Concrete mixers do this usually after placement, levelling and trowelling. Mixers drag a broom across the surface of the already moulded concrete to create small ridges that provide for traction control. This is achieved easily when the concrete surface is wet. At this point, mixers don’t take this stage for granted as they know quite well that a concrete surface is not complete without a broom finish.
Grinding and polishing
Grinding and polishing is the next thing to do after a block of concrete is cured to give interior floors a hard surface for the desired level of sheen. Applicable to both new and existing concrete, grinding and polishing take place by applying chemical densifier and mechanical ground with tools to a block of concrete with the fingerprints. Sometimes mixers tend to add a different colour entirely different from what it had at the initial stage of mixing cement, and there is always an opportunity to do that with the use of reactive or water-basin stains or dyes. Note that other colouring systems are also applicable depending on the circumstances available at hand.
This process is another method of giving a concrete surface a different feel, which is also another process that is entirely different from broom finishing. Let’s look at the steps and procedures for better understanding.
Exposed aggregate finish
The best place that exposed aggregate finish is common are sidewalks of old cities, mixers does this by washing away the top layer of the concrete. Washing off the top layer of the concretes will allow the edges of the natural stone aggregates get exposed, thereby providing an attractive and slip-resistant finish.
However, in other to get a unique and natural look of different style in an exposed aggregate finish system of concrete finish. Cement, sand, gravel, and water are necessary materials needed to make it happen; examples of these kinds of finish are rose quartz, limestone colored glass or seashell e.t.c.
The best place to find these kinds of finish is at the swimming pool decks. Finishers do this by applying rock salt to the top layer of wet concrete before finally washing it away; this eventually leaves small pits in the finished surface.
Concrete mixers are fond of this system of concrete texturing as it is the most common in among concrete stamps. Stamped concretes have different kinds of inlaid designs placed on concrete molds while they are still at the curing stage. The following materials are materials used in making excellent designs, brick, stone, and other decorative patterns to arrive at the desired look. After the strength and the durability of the stone is achieved, this is when colour is applied via staining to the concrete surface.
Adding color to a Concrete finish is one of the ways to beautify the whole process of Concrete finish. In most cases some people prefers not to add colouring to it simply to avoid cost. But for the beauty of the concrete, it is a good idea if coloring is added to the process to make it look good. Concrete coloring is possible through two processes. Namely, mix-added pigments and post-cure staining, both are explained below.
Giving a concrete the right color through the pigment process is quite simple. The first step is by applying or mixing the desired color to concrete at the mixing stage; it is available in a liquid form readily dissolved bag. Whatever the case may be, pigments are placed in the mixer with other ingredients. Proper care must be taken in the process of keeping pigmented concrete as it is not a friend to water infiltration as this may cause the pigment to fade off little by little.
It is an excellent form of coloring, and its style comes in form of stains. Its process requires the help of acid to cause stains on the body of finished concrete. With similarities to concrete pigment, different colors are available for its operations too; mixers use water-based acrylic stain to get a much larger number of colors, including black and white. This style allows that stains are applied to concrete finishing at any stage although colors are typically more vibrant and stain application is mostly followed up with installations of a seal to protect the surface.