Pouring a concrete slab for your backyard is a job you can complete by yourself or with the help of a hired concrete contractor. When you can do much or all of the work yourself, you can save some money on your backyard's concrete work. Here are some recommendations to help you when preparing your concrete patio foundation and combining the concrete mixture.
Prepare the Soil Foundation
The foundation of any new structure can determine how well the structure will hold up over time. This rule applies to concrete as well, as a shifting and settling soil foundation below your concrete slab will cause the concrete to crack and break apart.
It is first important to remove some of the top soil from your patio site to make room for the thickness of your concrete slab and to allow the patio to be level with the surrounding landscaping. It can be helpful to rent a skid steer, Bobcat, or other compact track loader to remove the soil and level the site.
Next, look at the type of soil that sits where your concrete will be poured to determine if the soil is well-draining or a poorly-draining soil. Soil that contains coarse-grained particles will allow better moisture drainage below your concrete and provide a stable foundation. Soils containing finer soil grains, including sand and silts, provide less ability for the soil to drain water. This can cause the sand and silt to wash from beneath the concrete and cause the concrete to settle and crack.
To compensate for soil that contains sand and silt, it is recommended to add a layer of gravel six to eight inches deep as a base for your concrete. This will require you to excavate extra soil to provide the additional room. Be sure to compact the soil before pouring any gravel or concrete into the forms to prevent any soil air pockets from later collapsing beneath your newly-installed concrete and causing cracking damage.
Mix the Concrete
Along with preparing the foundation soil for your concrete, it is important to combine your concrete with the right dry mix and moisture ratio for a strong concrete surface. Whether you are mixing the concrete in a wheelbarrow, in a portable concrete mixer, or you ordered it directly from a concrete supplier and it is mixed in a concrete truck, your concrete should be a proper consistency. When you pour out the concrete, it should look like thick oatmeal and hold its shape well.
A professional concrete supplier will correctly mix your concrete and can also combine additives to your pre-mixed concrete to help it cure in cold or wet weather after it has been pumped into your forms. If you combine your own concrete mixture in a wheelbarrow or other portable mixer, add water to your dry mix in small batches, mixing it as you go until it reaches the thick oatmeal consistency.
In a wheelbarrow, it can be best to use a shovel to combine the mixture. Add extra dry mixture to a mixture that is too soupy. Soupy concrete that is allowed to cure will not have the strength it needs and can crack and flake apart
Use these tips to help you prepare your foundation and properly mix your concrete. To learn more about concrete, or for professional assistance, contact a company like Masterlink Concrete Pumping.