To finish concrete so that it achieves a long-lasting, attractive look it must be processed correctly after pouring. Sometimes known as “floating” the concrete, this involves creating a smooth, even surface with an appropriate texture. Following the steps below will help you achieve a professional-looking finish to your concrete.

Floating Concrete

  • Once your concrete has been poured use a screeding board to level and smooth its surface. A straight piece of 2 x 4 lumber is ideal for this. Place the board thin edge down across your concrete and use a sawing motion to work from one end of your pour to the other. Make as many passes as necessary to achieve a flat and even surface.
  • Screeding produces a semi-smooth, slightly rippled concrete finish that will not be fine enough for most purposes. To refine your surface further the concrete must be “floated”. Floating is the process of forcing down aggregate and raising gravel-free concrete (sometimes called “cream”) to the surface. Do this by using a bull float. Work laterally across your pour, pulling and pushing the float across the concrete.
  • When bull floating is complete wait until any bleed water has disappeared then use a magnesium hand float or trowel in a sweeping motion to finalise the smoothing of the surface.
  • When finishing concrete it may be necessary to curve the corners of your slab. Use an edging tool for this. Work in one metre lengths at a time and smooth any ridges that are produced with a magnesium float.
  • Cut control joints. Finished concrete requires control joints every two to three metres to prevent uncontrolled cracking. These can be made with a groover in fresh concrete or with a concrete saw as soon as the concrete is hard enough not to chip at the edges of the cut. Whichever method is used control joints should be 25% of the depth of the slab.
  • Texture the surface of your concrete. On driveways and areas where a non-slip surface is required this can be done by dragging a broom laterally across the concrete. Take care to allow your concrete to dry sufficiently before beginning this process – it should be damp enough to take the marking, but not so wet that it clumps against the broom.
  • Allow the finished concrete to cure by covering with plastic sheeting and leaving undisturbed for five to seven days.
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