Home renovations and DIY projects not only saves you money but they’re heaps of fun too! There’s a sense of achievement in completing DIY projects and most people are proud to have a degree of sentiment in their home too. DIY projects have taken off in Australia with a series of DIY television shows now occupying primetime spots. While some projects are relatively easy and can be finished with a toolbox and some casual know-how, other projects require more planning and experience.
One DIY project which many homeowners struggle with is pouring a concrete slab, whether it’s to be used as a patio, driveway, pool deck, or you’re replacing timber floors. While it may appear to be relatively straightforward, there are many things which can go wrong and you really only get one chance! To guide you in the right direction, today we’ll be discussing concrete slabs in more detail along with offering you our top 5 DIY concrete pouring mistakes to avoid.
- Inadequate ground preparation
It’s important that the ground and surface area under the concrete slab is adequately prepared to prevent contamination by underlying soil and materials. An even layer of crusher dust, manufactured sand, or compacted stone is needed to absorb moisture and prevent contamination. A common mistake that homeowners make is not hosing down and dampening the sub surface before pouring the concrete in hot weather. Shrinkage and separation cracking can easily happen if fresh concrete is poured on a hot, dusty surface.
- Improper mix
Another common mistake made by homeowners is putting too much water in the concrete mix which leads to curing problems. The water to concrete ratio is very precise and ideally your wet concrete should be smooth but not dry, runny, or chunky. It’s tempting for homeowners to add too much water simply because softer concrete is easier to manage. Too much water in the concrete mix reduces the strength of the concrete so always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines concerning the concrete mix.
- Uneven formwork
Quality formwork is vital to the success of your concrete slab. Not only does formwork hold the concrete in place so it doesn’t spill over into other areas, but it also determines the appearance of the finished project. While it can be difficult to construct formwork and place it correctly in the excavated area, it’s a key step that must be performed correctly. Uneven formwork can have some serious consequences not to mention uneven concrete! If you can’t do this by yourself, it’s best to seek help elsewhere.
- Not using adequate reinforcement
It’s paramount that homeowners add reinforcement to their concrete slab to ensure it stays in one piece for many years to come. While concrete is naturally strong, it has low tensile strength and reinforcement improves the overall strength of the surface and holds the concrete together if it begins to crack. The easiest way is to use glass, plastic, or metal fibres mixed in the concrete before it gets poured, but even rebar and steel mesh makes for excellent reinforcement too.
- Not enough curing time
While concrete generally hardens within a day or two after the pour, it needs enough time to cure properly which can take at least seven days. Concrete needs to develop strength and durability by maintaining moisture and temperature conditions and leaving your concrete exposed to the elements can affect how the compounds bond together. Whether you use tarps, a curing compound, or water from your garden hose, your concrete slabs needs to be protected by maintaining the desired temperature and moisture until it has cured.
Concrete is a durable, low-maintenance, and weather resistant building material which is widely used all over the world. For homeowners undertaking DIY projects with concrete, it’s vital that they get the process right the first time to ensure their concrete slab remains in good shape for many years to come.
If you have any further questions about pouring a concrete slab, reach out to the formwork specialists at Uni-Span by phoning our team on 1300 882 825.