Utilize This Comprehensive 8-Step Guide to Enhance Your Knowledge and Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Pre-Installation, Placement, and Post-Installation Processes Involved in Residential and Commercial Concrete Installations.
Step 1 – The Sale
After the initial steps of decision-making, contract signing, and payment arrangement between the professional concrete contractor and the customer, the first step towards installing concrete for your residential or commercial property commences. This phase encompasses the installation of concrete for patios, garage floors, concrete slabs, sidewalks, driveways, front steps, and other applicable areas.
Step 2 – Site Work
Before you can start pouring concrete, it’s important to prepare the site properly. This means clearing the area and removing anything that’s in the way, like grass, rocks, trees, shrubs, or old concrete. Most of the time, heavy machinery is used to speed up the process. After everything’s cleared, you need to make sure you have a solid base. Generally, it’s recommended to have a sub-base of at least 4-6 inches of granular fill, this sub-base fill is then spread and compacted across the entire area where you’ll be pouring the concrete. Taking the time to prepare a proper sub-base is crucial to ensure the concrete cures properly.
Step 3 – Forming
After you’ve got the sub-base prepared, it’s time to set up the forms for the concrete. These forms can be made of different materials, like wood, metal, or plastic, and can vary in height from 4 inches to several feet. For most residential and commercial concrete projects, wooden forms are usually the way to go. It’s important to set the forms in a way that ensures the right slope or grade for proper drainage, and to make sure they form clean corners where they meet other structures or each other.
Step 4 – Placement
Now that the sub-base is compacted and the forms are in place, it’s time to pour the concrete. At SRS Construction, we make sure to order the right concrete mix for your specific project, whether it’s for a patio, garage floor, concrete slab, sidewalk, driveway, or front steps. If you live in an area that experiences freeze-thaw cycles, we’ll add a minimum of 5% air and use small stones as aggregate for stamped concrete, instead of the regular 3/4-inch stone used for broom or smooth finish concrete slabs.
Step 5 – Leveling Concrete
Once the wet concrete has been placed into the forms, a large metal or wood board is used to screed (leveling with a straight edge using a back-and-forth motion while moving across the surface) the top of the concrete. This screeding process helps compact and consolidate the concrete, and begins the smoothing and leveling of the top of the concrete.
Once the surface has been screeded, the concrete is “floated”. This involves using a special trowel called a float. The surface is floated to further compact the concrete, even out any depressions or high areas, and create a smooth finish on the surface.
Step 6– Finish
After all the troweling work is done, whether it’s done with a float or a steel trowel, the final finish can be applied to the concrete. The most common type of finish is called a ‘broom finish’. To achieve this, a special broom is used to create a rough textured surface by pulling it across the surface of the concrete.”
Step 7 – Curing
After all the concrete has been placed and finished, it needs to rest and begin to harden, which is called the curing process. This process usually takes 28 days, with the first 48 hours being the most crucial. To help the concrete cure slowly and evenly, it’s recommended to apply a liquid chemical curing and sealing compound as soon as the finishing is complete. This can reduce the likelihood of cracks, curling, and surface discoloration.
If the concrete is placed in weather that’s below 40F, it’s important to use curing blankets to keep it warm during the initial few days of the curing process. The colder the temperature, the longer it takes for the concrete to cure. Generally, you can start using the concrete for light foot traffic about 3 to 4 days after placement, and you can drive and park on it 5 to 7 days after placement.
Step 8 – Maintenance
Concrete is a sturdy material that, when placed, finished, and cured correctly, can last a lifetime. While it’s often considered low maintenance, there are simple procedures you can follow to increase the lifespan of your concrete. Applying a good quality sealer, such as a cure and seal or a high-quality sealer a month after placement, is recommended. Exterior concrete sealers usually last 1 to 5 years depending on environmental conditions. Periodic cleaning with soap and water can also help maintain its appearance and minimize staining and discoloration caused by natural or man-made factors.
Concrete has been used for thousands of years and is still the most popular choice for residential patios, walkways, and driveways. Understanding the basic steps involved in the installation process can make it smoother for everyone involved. Proper installation following established guidelines is essential for durable, high-strength, and crack-resistant concrete.