How To Pour a Small Concrete Slab

If you are deep into home improvement projects and are now at a point where you might be planning to build the foundation of a small shed or patio, then you’re going to have to get your hands on a small concrete slab. To help you through it, here is everything you need to know on how to pour a small concrete slab. 

Tools Required 

  • Electric cement mixer; can mix up to 160 lbs. of concrete 
  • Vibratory plate compactor; used to pack the fill dirt down before the concrete is poured
  • Concrete vibrator; eliminated structural issues, such as voids
  • Shovel for digging 
  • Finishing trowel
  • Form for concrete slab

Materials Required

  • All-purpose gravel
  • Cement (quick cure)

Foundation 

One of the most important aspects when pouring a small concrete slab is the pour’s foundation. To get the foundation just right, you will first need to dig a hole using the shovel. For a small concrete slab of 4 feet by 6 feet, you will need to dig a hole that is 8 to 10 inches deep. Next, you’ll need to work on the filler. For this, grab your all-purpose gravel, which is essentially a mix of sand and gravel. You’ll need to fill 2 to 3 inches of the hole with the filler. Then, you will need to pack the filler using the compactor. 

Rebar

You might be wondering to yourself, to pour a small concrete slab, will you need rebar? Taking into account that you are pouring a small-sized concrete slab, no, you will not need a rebar. That is not all, since the concrete slab will have to deal with low traffic and have a foundation that bears a low weight; this further lessens the need for rebar. However, if you would like to add early strength, you can make use of commercial-grade cement.

Concrete Calculator

Even if you’re planning on pouring a small concrete slab, the calculation of your concrete pour needs to be as accurate as possible. For this, you can make use of a concrete calculator. However, make sure that the concrete calculator that you are making use of factors the weight of your concrete bags as well, or you could end up with excess or a shortage of concrete.

Mixing

Once you’re done calculating and have your concrete with you, it’s time to take out your electric cement mixer. Of course, you use just end up using a wheel barrel, but since this is a home improvement project and you will probably be working on your own. This means that if you make use of a wheel barrel for mixing and pouring, you’ll have to work incredibly fast to get ahead of the concrete drying up after mixing and before pouring. An electric cement mixer will also help make the process much faster. You can also have your electric cement mixer running at the form’s edge.

Form

Let’s talk about the form now. If you are assembling the form on your own, then it is best to make use of screws during the process. This way, once you are done, you can simply pop the screws apart. A good material to use for the stakes is scrap wood. If you have a level on you, be sure to check your assembled form all the way from the left to the right and then from the back to the front. This will help you see any alignment issues with your form, no matter how minute. If you would prefer your form to allow the runoff of water, then you can create a slight decline within your form. 

The Pour 

Once your cement mix gets to a texture just like thick peanut butter, your cement is ready for pouring. A good rhythm of working in batches is to mix in 50 lbs. of cement, pour it into your form. Then start on a new batch, mix it, pour it, and work it into the previous pour. If you end up trying to mix too much cement, you could risk the formation of dry patches at the bottom of the mixture.

Concrete Vibrator

While a concrete vibrator is mainly used for large-scale projects, they are an incredibly useful tool for all those who are pouring a concrete slab for the first time. If it is your first time, it would not be unusual for your concrete mix to have certain inconsistencies, and this is where a concrete vibrator comes into play. Once all of your concrete is poured, dip the concrete vibrator into the mixture. The concrete vibrator will then shake the mixture, allowing the excess moisture within the mixture to come towards the surface. Then, let the concrete cure for around 2 hours. Grab your push broom and with a gentle force, brush the surface of the cured cement. This helps in creating minimal texture, thus creating traction. However, if you want your concrete slab to have a smooth finish, you can skip using the push broom.

Pop Your Form

Once you have given your concrete slab some texture, allow it to cure further for around two days before you pop it. This is where you can make use of the screws you used when assembling the concrete form. Simply pull the screws out, and your concrete form can then easily be pulled apart to expose your concrete slab. This way, you won’t have to struggle or use any form of release formula or wax.

While the method is quite labor-intensive, if you are working on pouring a small concrete slab, the financial benefits are well worth it. If you had gone on a different route, you would have to hire a crew and even a cement truck, all for a small concrete slab, which does not seem like the best financial decision to make. However, be sure that you understand that the process is the epitome of manual labor. From digging a hole to lugging bags of cement, this is certainly a weekend job, where you might have to take a Monday off just to get some rest. However, your efforts will be well worth it once you are done.

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