Forming and Placing

The author finds that for less than one yard of concrete, site-mixing is cheaper than ordering it ready-mixed and paying short-load fees. Sixty 60-pound bags of concrete mix — enough to make a yard — at $2.90 each costs $174.

Ready-mixed concrete at $85 per yard plus a short-load charge of $120 will run at least $205. It’s not cost-effective for pours smaller than one yard, but it makes sense for larger pours.

Concrete forms are typically 2x4s nailed together.

Use a level on the forms to ensure the slab is level. If the slab is to be pitched, tape a shim to one end of the level to account for the desired slope.

Steel form stakes have nail holes predrilled in them to support concrete forms.

Forms for deeper pours require more bracing.

Steel mesh or rebar improves a concrete slab’s ability to handle tension loads.

Steel mesh needs to be pulled up when the concrete is placed so it ends up in the center of the slab.

Concrete is leveled by screeding — sliding a straightedge back and forth across the forms while moving it forward.

For large slabs, intermediate screed supports are used. As the slab progresses, the screed supports are removed and the resulting voids are shoveled full of concrete.

Rakes, shovels, and “come-alongs” are used to move concrete into the forms and ahead of the screed.

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