Category Archives: basement

Pouring a Large Slab by Yourself with Sakrete Crack Resistant Concrete

Have you ever wanted to pour a large concrete slab on your property but felt like the only way was to hire a contractor or bring in extra help? For most DIYers the idea of pouring concrete is firmly in the realm of “hire a pro”, especially if we’re talking about something more than a few square feet.

I’m going to show you that’s not always true.

I used Sakrete Crack Resistant Concrete to create the garden area slab shown here over a weekend. Here are a few design highlights:

  • The slab is 9’ x  9’ for a total of 81sf
  • The grid pattern forms look great and make this an easy one person project
  • Sakrete’s Crack Resistant Mix requires no extra reinforcement
  • This is a very low-cost, high-durability, beautiful hardscape project

This project allowed me to easily convert an unused and kind-of ugly portion of my backyard into my new favorite outdoor spot.

Large Slabs Usually Mean Extra People, Equipment, and Expense

The thing with larger slabs is that they usually require the entire amount of required concrete at one time. If you don’t pour the whole thing at once, you get cold joints. Cold joints happen when concrete poured into a slab is allowed to partially or completely dry before more concrete is added. Cold joints usually don’t look good at all.

In order to get all the needed concrete ready to pour at once, people often call for a concrete delivery from a ready-mix company. Unfortunately, a slab this size only requires about one cubic yard of concrete. Ready mix concrete trucks (the big concrete trucks that deliver concrete and spin) usually have a three yard minimum order. So that won’t work for a slab this size.

In this situation people often go for “U-Cart” type concrete where you go to a provider who rents you a trailer with a yard of mixed and ready-to-pour concrete in it. The problem with that is that you need to be able to get the trailer pretty close to the work area, or you’re going to need to wheelbarrow the concrete a long distance. Wheelbarrowing wet concrete isn’t fun. I promise.

The other issue with pouring one yard of concrete at one time is the manpower. In order to place and finish that amount of concrete before it starts to set-up, it usually means extra people are required.

I wanted to do my project by myself, without any heavy equipment or trailers to return, and I didn’t want to be rushed.

The Grid Form System

The solution to my problem was the grid shaped forms you see in the photos.

This simple “tic-tac-toe” pattern form made of pressure treated 2×4’s provided me with a number of solutions.

  • An improved look – I love the grid pattern and the way the slab looks like large tiles.
  • Easy Placing and Finishing – Doing a good job on a 3’x3’ section of concrete is much easier than doing a good job on a 9’x9’ section of concrete, especially for a novice.
  • Timing flexibility – I could do one square a day if I wanted to. There is no need to pour the whole slab at once. I did my project over a period of two days.

Creating the grid was easy and only took a couple of hours, eight 10’ long pressure treated 2×4’s, and a handful of coated deck screws.

My area was already sufficiently level, but you would easily be able to level your form with some fill dirt as needed.

A Few Embedded Screws Will Help Long Term

There is a chance that EVENTUALLY (many years from now) the screws holding the forms together could rust through, so in order to keep the perimeter forms from ever falling away, I placed a few screws inside the forms to connect them to the concrete. These aren’t meant as reinforcement, it’s just a little insurance to keep the wood from falling away from the edge.

Sakrete Crack Resistant Concrete

I chose the Sakrete Crack Resistant Concrete Mix after having been so pleased with it on a driveway repair I did last year. This is the perfect concrete for a slab like mine because I wanted to be able to just pour the concrete in without the need for steel wire reinforcement. For a garden type slab like this I just needed a great, easy to mix concrete that would be less likely to develop cracks. This product fit the bill perfectly. It was easy to finish and will stay looking great for many years to come.

I needed about 5 bags per square… 9×5 = 45

45 Eighty pound bags… no problem. I went and picked it up so loading and unloading the truck (two trips) was a chore! Save yourself the trouble and just have your retailer deliver it!

Mixing is Easy

I did all my mixing in a wheelbarrow right in the slab area. This way, after the concrete was mixed I could just dump the wheelbarrow.

  1. Dump a bag or two into the wheelbarrow, the less concrete you mix at once the easier it is to mix-up, but the more times you have to repeat the process. You can decide what’s comfortable for you.
  2. Add water per the mix ratio shown on the bag. Extra water can be easier to mix, but it weakens the concrete. In my case I wasn’t too worried about the concrete being at the full specified 4000 psi, so I added a little bit of extra water.
  3. Mix it up well, then pour it in the square.

Each 3’x3’ square takes about 5 bags.

Finishing the Concrete

One thing about being a general contractor is that the skills you develop are often exactly that… general. I’m generally able to finish concrete. I understand all the steps and the general principles. But I do not think I’d do well finishing a 9’x9’ slab by myself.

But 3’x3’… that I can handle! The beauty of this project is that the squares can be finished one at a time using simple tools. Here’s all I needed:

  • steel tooth garden rake (not shown in photo)
  • a 16” trowel
  • a concrete edger
  • A straight board for leveling off the concrete
  • A flat shovel
  • Water

Follow these simple steps to finish the concrete:

  1. Use the rake to spread and roughly level the concrete.
  2. Use the board to level off the concrete and get a trowel ready surface.
  3. Use the trowel to smooth off the top of the surface as it begins to dry.
  4. Use the edger tool to create a nice edge along the perimeter of each square.

This video shows these steps:

Leftover Concrete in a Rubber Baking Mold Makes for Awesome Concrete Candles!That’s about all there is too it!

Here are a few more pictures showing the finished product.

Leftover Concrete in a Rubber Baking Mold Makes Awesome Concrete Candles!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sakrete. The opinions and text are all mine.

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How to Sweep a Floor, Remodeler’s Edition

I experienced the custom of college once I lived with a half dozen additional reprobates in a shambolic wood-frame home on the border of campus in the reduced Iowa prairie. Our home was a standard undergraduate hovel, together with yellowed linoleum tiles which curled up at the seams and a Sears stove that had not been cleaned since the 1950s. Some sort of rodent dwelt behind it.

One of my roommates, a true free thinker, was that the first to carry up sweeping. Gradually, it caught up with the others of us and me particularly. Sweeping perceptibly improved your home in almost imperceptible ways. Though our rooms had been still cluttered with novels and bongs and beer bottlesand no one could possibly be bothered to choose the full garbage bags out to the curb (we stacked them from the kitchen), the flooring surely felt cleaner. The linoleum was filthy, but there clearly is no grit between the cracks. An individual could wander around barefoot, without worrying about beer bottle caps sticking to one’s feet.

In time, I came to understand the way the rigorous act of crossing would be itself as rewarding as the result of experiencing sailed. Sweeping, like washing the dishes after a huge social gathering, strikes a satisfying blow against entropy. It’s mechanical and meditative. One may certainly get lost inside itif you do it right. Let us get going.

Inch. Arm your self.

A pair of 54-inch brooms from Haydenville Broomworks; according to the makers, “Using the design pioneered by the Shakers, the broom heads are stitched flat to provide a wider sweep and the broomcorn is secured to the handle using wire.” I have the Traditional Broom (shown above L) with a long Sassafras handle that’s smooth to the touch; $65. The no-frills Shaker Broom (shown above R) has a flat head and a sanded pine handle; $40 from Haydenville Broomworks.

Above: a couple of 54-inch brooms out of Haydenville Broomworks; as stated by the manufacturers,”Together with the design pioneered by the Shakers, the eyebrow heads are stitched horizontal to supply a larger sweep and the broomcorn is secured to the deal with wire.” I possess the Traditional Broom (shown above L) with an extended Sassafras handle that’s smooth to the touch; $65. The no frills Shaker Broom (shown preceding ep ) has a flat head and a walnut handle; even $40 in Haydenville Broomworks.

You’re going to require an adequate broom, a dustpan, and a hand broom. From”adequate,” after all that a Shaker broom, formulated by the same individuals who snore a sternly sex-less way of life and embarrassing ladder back chairs. (Formerly brooms had”round” heads bound at a form of cylinder. Think of the racket that a witch rides) An round rectangle is an OK contour for sweeping out narrow spaces, like fireplaces and also the spot supporting the oven at which the bark lived, however it’s inefficient for sweeping a wide, indoor floor.

My Shaker broom, with a pleasing-to-touch, crooked sassafras natural and handle claws, originated from Haydenville Broomworks and put me back $65. I believe it an investment decision. Or you may go to a hardware store and get a inexpensive, $10 broom that will begin to lose its bristles a week, that I wouldn’t recommend unless you desire to devote the remainder of one’s life hating your broom.

Get your self a hand broom to sweep your debris stack in your dust bin.

The dust-pan yet is another, much darker story. 99 out of 100 are defectively designed: the single have a dustpan truly needs is just a razorthin lip. With a milder lipgloss, you’re going to be left using a thin, accusatory stripe of dirt to the floor. I really don’t care if you get a dust pan that’s made from metal, beechplasticbut do your self a favor and make certain that the lip gloss is no more than an eighth of a inch thick. Otherwise you’ll have to learn the Drawbridging Technique to sweep up the very last bit of dust. (We’ll deal with this in Step 8, below.)

The Chiltern Dustpan from Turner & Harper is £35. For more of our picks, go to 10 Easy Pieces: Design-Worthy Dustpans.

Above: The Chiltern Dust Pan out of Turner & Harper is 35.  For much more of our picks, go to 10 Easy Pieces: Design-Worthy Dustpans.

2. Decide on a central dust-collection spot.

It ought to be from the doldrums of the house, in a low point (we sweep from high to low) and preferably at a corner–but absolutely protected from airflow. Within our house, that is actually near the utility closet at which the broom and wrongly designed dustpan are all stored. The airflow thing is key: With no breeze blowing in through doors, it’s much easier to corral dust bunnies and ammonia along with other lighterthanair stuff tends to carry flight during sweepage.