Posted by: Scott McCullough | November 6, 2011

Basement Slab

Jess and I took the day off of work Friday to do our part in getting the basement slab poured.  Jess’s brother worked for a General Contractor who had done a number of concrete slabs so he was running the show.  Altogether we had a crew of five.  The first truck from Mitchie Corp was due at 10:00, we had ordered 2 trucks, 6 yards each.  The high temperature for the day was forecast for the high 40’s, dropping down to below freezing at night.  We planned on splitting a 50 lb. bag of calcium between the two trucks to help speed the curing process.

I had never worked on pouring a concrete slab, so it was a little nerve racking seeing that slurry of concrete coming down the chute, knowing that the clock is running until it all turns into stone.

Once we had spread out the mix and started screeding it started transforming from a pile of mud into a floor.  We hadn’t anticipated any help from the truck drivers from Mitchie Corp, but it turns out they were both very helpful, giving us time to level out the concrete before sending down the next stream.  One of the drivers helped with the majority of the screeding and made sure things were moving along smoothly.

We worked along and moved the chutes toward the west side of the house using holes cut in the first floor for the shower and stair.  In the mechanical room we used the drain bucket as a low point and screeded around the room from there.

The second truck had some concrete left over so Kolt suggested we use it for pre-made piers.

After going over everything with the bull float, we waited for things to set up a bit before going back in with the trowels.

We rented the bull float along with a power trowel from RP Johnson’s.  The first couple passes with the trowel removed all of the inconsistencies on the slab, but left a heavy trowel pattern since the slab was still soft.  We hand troweled around the edges and waited a while for the concrete to set up further.

One note: We didn’t know this, but you should have magnesium hand trowels on hand to finish the edges; luckily the drivers both carried them in their trucks, but they can’t be purchased at your local hardware store, so plan ahead for the equipment you will need; we can’t stress that enough!

With each pass of the power trowel you could see slab getting smoother.  Turned out it was a good thing we added the calcium to the mix to help accelerate the curing process.  If we hadn’t, we would have been waiting much longer before we could have brought in the power trowel.

The reason we decided to pour our own slab was to save money and to have the experience of doing it.  We saved about $1300 which doesn’t include our time and coordination, but it also allowed us to do the prep work at our own pace.  I would say we were nervous about the process, but it went much smoother than we expected!  We will have a finished slab on the first floor as well, but we haven’t decided if we will try to do that ourselves or hire a professional.

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