DIY projects can be a satisfying experience. After all, the more things that you know how to take care of yourself, the more money you’ll be able to save by not paying someone else for the job.

Pouring concrete can be challenging. Fortunately, this isn’t an impossible task. The key is to make sure you have the right tools for the job and then understand a few basic tips that can help you pour concrete without making it more complicated than necessary.

This article takes a look at how to pour a concrete slab. Keep reading to discover insight into the process — or consider a service like — so that every project that you undertake will be a breeze.

Gather Your Tools and Supplies

Before getting started, you’ll need to make sure that you have everything you’ll need to get the job done right.

The tools and supplies required for pouring a slab include:

A measuring tape, square point shovel, a hand tamper and level, a hammer and nails, a concrete mixer and wheelbarrow, safety glasses and work gloves, a one-gallon measuring pail a d finishing broom, and a long 1×4 board. 

Once you’ve gathered most of these items, you are ready to start your project.

Prepare the Area

First, measure the area where you intend to pour the slab and prepare the area for concrete.

Keep in mind that if you’re including a subbase beneath the slab, you’d be wise to contact your utility companies to make sure that there’s no risk of striking a water line or power line when you start digging. Better safe than sorry.

Clear the area by removing all sticks, twigs, rocks, and other forms of debris that could result in air pockets or an uneven surface.

Next, use a 48- to 72-inch-long level to check that the ground is perfectly level.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to begin pouring until you are positive that the ground is level, otherwise the slab will end up slopped or uneven.

Compact the Subgrade

Once the area is cleared of obstructions, use the hand tamper to compact the subgrade. This is a heavy flat-bottomed plate with a long handle used to press weight down on the ground.

Compacting the ground with this tool will reduce the chances of the concrete from cracking as it ages.

Add the Sub-base

The next step is to add 4-8 inches of gravel to create a sub-base. A good sub-base will allow drainage so that you won’t have a buildup of water around the slab.

Keep in mind that open-graded stone will provide great water drainage, but finer-grade stone creates more stability, so try to balance out the two based on the location of the slab and the type of climate you tend to experience in the area where you live.

Build a Form

Now you’ll need to build a form out of 1×4 boards. The purpose of the form is to hold the concrete in place as it’s poured.

A form is simply a perimeter made of the boards. You’ll need to use a level to make sure that every section of the form is perfectly level. After all, once dried, the concrete will take on the exact shape of the form.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to use rebar in larger slabs, especially those that will support a lot of weight, such as driveways or a slab for a house. Rebar adds a tremendous amount of strength to the slab in order to prevent cracking.

Mix the Concrete

Now it’s time to put on your gloves and eye protection so that you can mix your concrete. You’ll also need to get your mixer and shovel ready for use.

The key to mixing cement is to add water slowly and gradually so that the cement doesn’t get overly soupy.

Blend the water and cement slowly, using your shovel to stir the mixture. The final mixture should be thick yet easy to pour. Keep in mind that if you’ve added too much water, the mixture won’t dry properly and can result in weak spots in your slab.

Pour the Concrete Mixture

Once you’ve completed the mixing process, you’d need to pour it as quickly as possible before it begins to dry.

It’s best to have help for this step of the process. Ideally, you’d have two or helpers: one to operate the wheelbarrow, one to distribute the mixture evenly throughout the form, and one to begin smoothing out the surface with a hand trowel.

The key to this step is to work as a team to quickly get the slab poured and leveled before the concrete has time to start taking shape and dry before being properly leveled. Because once the concrete has dried, it will be impossible to work with or reshape.

Here is a resource where you can find the best self leveling concrete.

Use Your Screed

Now that the cement mix has been poured to fill the form, use your 1×4 screen to properly smooth the top surface.

To do this, simply rest the ends of the screen across the sides of the form. Then gently jig is back and force as you guide the 1×4 down the length of the form. This will help smooth out any flaws in the surface and eliminate air pockets that might remain inside the slab.

Continue to work the screed back and forth down the length of form until you are satisfied that the surface looks as good as possible.

Groove the Concrete

Start grooving the concrete every 4 to 6 inches along the width of the slab. This will enable the slab to expand and contract with temperature changes to prevent cracking.

Treat the Slab with Sealer

Once the slab has fully dried, treat the surface with a concrete sealer. This will help it last longer, regardless of the weather conditions in your area.

Helpful Tips for How to Pour Concrete

Pouring your own slab might seem overwhelming. Fortunately, it really isn’t too complicated. The key is to follow these tips and have plenty of help so that the job goes as smoothly as possible.

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