Common Mistakes to Avoid When Laying Concrete

Written by:

Date published:


bad concrete

Concrete is one of the most versatile and durable construction materials, but its quality can be compromised if proper care isn’t taken during the laying process. Even seasoned DIY enthusiasts and contractors can sometimes underestimate the complexities involved in laying concrete correctly. Whether you’re working on a small shed base or laying the foundation for a larger structure, avoiding common mistakes is crucial for ensuring the longevity and performance of the finished product. In this blog post, we will explore some of the most common pitfalls to watch out for.

Mistake 1: Inadequate Site Preparation

The Problem:

One of the most critical steps in laying concrete is preparing the site correctly. Failing to remove organic material like grass, roots, or debris can cause your concrete to crack and settle unevenly over time.

How to Avoid:

Ensure you clear and excavate the site properly. Remove all organic material and instal a sub-base layer for added stability.

Mistake 2: Ignoring Weather Conditions

The Problem:

Concrete is sensitive to weather conditions. Too hot, and the concrete may cure too quickly, leading to cracks. Too cold, and it may freeze during the curing process, affecting its long term strength.

How to Avoid:

Always check the weather forecast before laying concrete. If extreme conditions are expected, consider rescheduling or taking protective measures like using curing blankets or sunshades.

Mistake 3: Poor Mixing

The Problem:

Improperly mixed concrete can lead to a host of problems, from decreased strength to an uneven finish.

How to Avoid:

Whether mixing by hand or using a machine, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the correct water-to-cement ratio. Make sure to mix thoroughly until you achieve a uniform consistency. For most concrete base projects, it’s advisable to use a ready-mix concrete company who will ensure the correct consistency.

Mistake 4: Skimping on Reinforcement

The Problem:

Concrete is strong under compression but weak under tension. Skipping reinforcement in areas that will be subject to tensile forces can result in cracks and reduced durability.

How to Avoid:

Always use appropriate reinforcement, like fibre, especially for structural elements like slabs.

Mistake 5: Overworking the Surface

The Problem:

Once the concrete is poured, the natural reaction might be to smooth the surface continually. However, overworking the surface can weaken it, make it less durable, and result in water pooling.

How to Avoid:

Smooth the surface only until it’s level. Avoid excessive troweling, especially once the “bleeding” water or ‘fat’ (water rising to the surface) has evaporated.

Mistake 6: Inadequate Curing

The Problem:

Many people believe that once the concrete dries, the job is done. However, concrete needs time to achieve its full strength, and inadequate curing can reduce its durability by up to 50%.

How to Avoid:

Curing should begin as soon as the concrete is set enough to not be damaged by the process. Keep the concrete damp for at least seven days for most mixes, use a hose to wet the concrete, especially in very hot conditions.

Mistake 7: Uneven Shuttering

The Problem:

One of the biggest mistakes by inexperienced DIY concreters, is not getting the shuttering right. Often it’s not level which can have severe consequences when it comes to installing the building, it may not be big enough for the intended building, or it may collapse under the weight of the wet concrete.

How to Avoid:

Ensure the shuttering is square, flat and level and has adequate support well before the concrete pour.

Mistake 8: Rushing the Process

The Problem:

Good things take time, including concrete. Rushing through steps, from mixing to curing, can significantly compromise the quality of your concrete project.

How to Avoid:

Always plan ahead and allow sufficient time for each stage of the process. Each step, from preparation of the shuttering to curing, requires careful attention for optimal results.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a seasoned contractor, avoiding these common mistakes can make a substantial difference in the durability, functionality, and aesthetics of your concrete project. Investing time in proper site preparation, mixing, laying, and curing will pay off in a job well done and will save you from potential costly repairs in the future.

Contact us for a no-obligation quote or more information…