How to Form and Pour a Concrete Slab

Author Tom Tate

Posted Apr 19, 2023

Reads 5.9K

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When it comes to constructing a solid foundation for any building, concrete is the go-to material of choice. And when pouring a concrete slab, the first step is to create proper "concrete forms". These forms act as a mold for the concrete, ensuring that it dries into the desired shape and size. But how do you create these forms, and what steps should you take to ensure a successful pour?

In this article, we'll take you through the basics of forming and pouring a concrete slab. We'll cover everything from selecting the right materials to preparing the site and creating sturdy forms that can withstand the weight of wet concrete. Whether you're planning on tackling this project yourself or just want to understand the process better before hiring a contractor, our guide will provide all the information you need to get started. So let's dive in!

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Project step-by-step (16)

Working with concrete can be a rewarding experience but it can also be dangerous if proper precautions are not taken. Wet concrete can cause mild redness or even third-degree permanently disfiguring chemical burns, so it's important to protect yourself. Wear eye protection to avoid sandy concrete splashes and wear long pants, long sleeves, and tall rubber boots to keep your skin safe from any wet cement that you may come into contact with.

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To ensure your safety when working with wet concrete, wear gloves - rubber gloves are the safest bet. When finished handling the wet cement, remove them carefully and dispose of them according to proper procedures. It's also important to wear clean clothes while working with concrete since any residue left on your clothing could potentially wreak havoc on your skin.

In conclusion, when it comes to working with concrete forms, safety should always be a top priority. Protecting yourself from potential harm is essential when dealing with wet concrete as it can cause severe damage to your skin. Remember to wear appropriate clothing and gear such as eye protection, long pants, long sleeves, tall rubber boots,and gloves - preferably rubber ones. By following these guidelines you'll ensure that you stay safe while still being able to enjoy the process of working with this amazing material.

1. Set and Level One Side

When working with concrete forms, it's important to set and level one side before moving on to the next. Start by choosing straight form boards that are at least 2 inches longer than the exact width of the slab you'll nail them to. Use corner stakes and thickened edges to ensure they're aligned, and splice any boards that aren't long enough. Use 16d duplex double-headed nails and bracing nails to secure the form boards in place. This tip, along with others, can be found in an article on "Concrete Forms" from Family Handyman magazine.

2. Stake and Brace the Side Form

When it comes to concrete forms, it's important to stake and brace the side form for straight sides. First, use a masons line to ensure the top edge of the form is level. Then, use 2x4s spaced every two feet and support kickers slanting outward to make nailing easier and hold the form boards in place. Push the form boards outward, leaving a slight curve at the edge to prevent them from bending outward during pouring. As Family Handyman suggests, taking these steps will ensure your freshly poured concrete has straight sides.

3. Square, Level and Stake the Other Sides

When building concrete forms, it's vital to square, level and stake the other sides of your braced form. Using a calculated length for each side, make sure all angles are at 90 degrees with a form board. Pro tip: leveling is key, so use a level to straighten out any bumps or unevenness. If one end is slightly high, adjust the other end of the form board until it's perfectly level. The Family Handyman has great resources for mastering this process!

4. Fill and Level

When it comes to concrete forming, the "fill and level" technique is crucial for a successful project. Before pouring in the concrete, it's important to add granular fill in three-inch layers and tamp them down to ensure stability. Calculating the amount of fill needed for your project (in cubic yards) and creating a thickened edge will also prevent cracking and settling. For more tips on concrete forms, check out Family Handyman.

5. Pack the Fill

When it comes to concrete forms, one important step is to pack the fill solidly. This involves using a plate compactor to compact the ground inside a 12-in-wide trench and creating a thickened edge where you're building. Additionally, make sure to lay down a layer of 6-mm polyethylene sheeting and add slab cover if you're building a heated structure. These tips from Family Handyman will ensure your concrete forms are sturdy and long-lasting.

6. Tie in the Rebar to Strengthen the Slab

To strengthen a concrete slab, it is important to tie in the rebar. This involves cutting and bending pieces of rebar to create perimeter reinforcing, which is then secured with wrapping tie wire. To do this, you will need 6-mm plastic sheeting, stakes set, metal-cutting blade, rebar cutters, and rebar stakes. The Family Handyman website offers step-by-step instructions on how to properly tie in perimeter rebar for a stronger concrete slab.

7. Partition the Slab

When pouring a large slab, it's important to partition the area with concrete forms and rebar spaced 18 inches apart. Use tie wire to secure the rebar to the forms and ensure it's level with the top edge. To make sure your forms are straight, use a taut string as a guide. Place marks on the forms for door openings and anchor bolts, making sure they're at least 12 inches away from each other. Once you pour your concrete, you'll need to let it harden quickly by dividing it into sections with saw cuts before it's time to remove the forms. For more tips on concrete forms, check out Family Handyman.

8. Pour and Level the Concrete

Pouring and leveling the concrete is a crucial step in the process of using concrete forms. To ensure a flat evenly filled area, make multiple passes with a screed tool to remove any excess concrete. It's also helpful to have a helper add concrete as needed while you level it out, and don't forget to remove concrete from low spots to avoid an uneven surface.

9. Family Handyman

Family Handyman readers, are you looking to learn about concrete forms? When screeding your concrete keeping the leading edge slightly elevated can help with side lift. Remember to slightly elevate the edge closest to you and pull back towards your starting point. Repeat overlapping the previously floated surface. Pro tip: bull float water onto the surface and wait for it to harden slightly before resuming finishing.

10. Round Off Slab Edges

When it comes to concrete forms, one important step is to round off slab edges. This can be accomplished using an edging tool, which creates a smooth and rounded edge that not only looks better but also helps ensure surface water disappears rather than pooling. It's important to use the edger before the concrete has a chance to harden slightly, as this will make it easier to create the desired shape. The Family Handyman offers some great tips on how to achieve professional-looking results.

11. Set the Anchor Bolts

When it comes to pouring concrete forms, one crucial step is to set the anchor bolts. These bolts will secure the structure and keep it in place, so it's important to place them correctly. Make sure to measure carefully and place bolts at regular intervals, especially near door openings. Also, be mindful of where the bolts are exposed so that they don't cause any tripping hazards. The Family Handyman has some great tips on how to properly set anchor bolts for your next project.

12. Cut Control Joints

Cutting control joints is an essential step when working with concrete forms. Form control joints help to minimize random cracks that can occur as the concrete dries and settles. To create these joints, use a groover forward, making a progressively deeper cut as you move along the surface of the concrete. For more tips on working with concrete forms, check out Family Handyman's extensive guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to pour a concrete slab?

The cost of pouring a concrete slab varies depending on factors such as size, thickness, and location. However, the average cost ranges from $4 to $8 per square foot.

How do you float a concrete slab?

To float a concrete slab, you need to pour the concrete and then use a tool called a float to smooth and level the surface. The process helps achieve a more even finish and prevent cracking.

How to build a concrete slab?

To build a concrete slab, first, excavate the area to the desired depth, create a frame with stakes and boards, pour a base layer of gravel or crushed stone, add wire mesh or rebar for reinforcement, and then pour in the concrete mix. Smooth the surface with a trowel and let it cure for at least 48 hours.

How do you pour and level concrete?

To pour and level concrete, you will need to create a form to contain the concrete, mix the concrete according to instructions, pour it into the form, and use a screed board to level the surface. After that, use a bull float to smooth out any bumps or ridges and finish by using a trowel to create a smooth surface.

Tom Tate

Tom Tate

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Tom Tate is a seasoned writer and editor, with years of experience creating compelling content for online audiences. He has a talent for distilling complex topics into clear and concise language that engages readers on a deep level. In addition to his writing skills, Tom is also an expert in digital marketing and web design.

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