Learn How to Finish Concrete
According to the National Institute of the Remodeling Industry, nearly 50 percent of homeowners plan to stay in their current homes at least six more years, so it’s logical that more people will be seeking help for larger and more challenging home improvement projects than ever. When it comes to concrete projects, even the most skilled remodelers or do-it-yourselfers can use a little inspiration and help on how to finish concrete if they haven’t completed many concrete projects.
QUIKRETE has a useful video and accompanying project instructions for anyone interested in learning how to finish concrete or as a refresher for those who haven’t done such a project recently.
The following project instructions accompany the video and provide more detail on how to finish concrete. Remember, when working with cement-based products, always wear eye protection and waterproof gloves.
Step 1 – Prior to placing concrete forms:
- Construct the form with 2×4 or 2×6 lumber and secure in place by wood stakes and deck screws.
- Excavate the slab area to a depth of about seven inches, allowing three inches for a gravel base and four inches for concrete.
Step 2 – Check the forms for level (¼ inch for every 12 feet is sufficient to allow for rain run-off). Patio and sidewalk forms should slope evenly away from structures.
Step 3 – Evenly spread three to four inches of QUIKRETE All Purpose Gravel and then level the gravel.
Step 4 – Compact the gravel base using a tamper. TIP: A solid sub-base will help prevent erosion and slab settling.
Step 5 – Dampen the gravel base using a garden hose to prevent shrinkage cracking especially in hot temperatures.
Step 6 – Pour the concrete mix in evenly placed leads; the top of the concrete mounds should be about two to three inches above the forms before leveling.
Step 7 – Consolidate and distribute the concrete evenly using a hoe. The surface of the concrete should be relatively flat and slightly above the form.
Step 8 – Screed the concrete using a straight 2×4 by moving the board back and forth across the surface of the concrete in a sawing motion to remove the excess concrete and smooth the surface.
Step 9 – Add concrete to any low areas and screed level.
Step 10 – Once the concrete has lost its sheen, smooth the concrete surface using a wood float in an arching motion. NOTE: Use a stiff-bristle broom to create a non-slip broom finish (all broom strokes should be made in the same direction).
Step 11 – Cut in control joints using a groover and straight-edge (a four-inch thick slab will require control joints a minimum of every 10 feet in each direction). NOTE: control joints should be cut a minimum of ¼ the depth of the slab.
Step 12 – Use an edging tool to consolidate and shape the edges of the slab. Several passes should be made in each direction for a smooth finish.
Step 13 – Freshly placed concrete should be water cured for a minimum of three to five days with a fine water mist. TIP: water curing can be eliminated by applying QUIKRETE Acrylic Concrete Cure & Seal immediately after finishing the concrete. Acrylic Cure & Seal can be applied with a roller, garden sprayer or a brush.
Did you find this how to finish concrete guide useful? Find even more how-to videos from QUIKRETE on their website.