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Things That Can Go Wrong When Working With Concrete

HomeEducationalThings That Can Go Wrong When Working With Concrete

Concrete can be an intimidating material to work with. The ratios of water, gravel, and sand have to be just right. Pouring it has to be a delicate process as well. But if you are aware of potential problems when pouring your concrete, you’ll be likelier to be successful.

Too Much Water

When you’re making concrete, it can be tempting to add too much water. Sometimes beginners can confuse a smooth concrete mixture with an eventual smooth texture when the concrete is hardened. However, adding water can actually be detrimental for your concrete. When you add water, you effectively dilute the solution which weakens the concrete.

A watery concrete mixture drastically reduces the compressive strength of concrete. And the chemistry is actually quite precise. In fact, adding even an extra inch of unnecessary water can reduce the compressive strength of your concrete by hundreds of pounds per square inch.

Not Enough Water

While adding too much water can be detrimental to your concrete, adding too little water can also be detrimental to your concrete. There are a variety of things that can happen if you don’t add enough water to your concrete mixture.

First, you may end up having some of the concrete mix that isn’t fully dissolved in the solution. These small little patches of unintegrated concrete mixture can create weak spots in your concrete when it solidifies.

Second, when you add too little water, the chemical reaction required to make the concrete compress and fuse together isn’t complete. As a result your concrete will be weaker and more susceptible to cracking in the future.

Pouring the Wrong Way

When it comes to pouring concrete, there is actually an important technique to pouring it. Concrete is usually only workable for about 20 to 30 minutes so you’ll want to mix it up in a wheelbarrow and then pour it directly into your molds.

Mixing it in a wheelbarrow can help you maximize the amount of concrete you can make in order to finish a job like a patio or a walkway. As you pour the concrete, do so at an even pace and be sure that you fill in the corners and leave no gaps. You’ll also want to make sure that you are able to make an even surface.

But while you want an even surface, your surface actually shouldn’t be completely level. You want the surface to be sloped about a quarter of an inch to a drainage source so that you don’t develop places where water can sit stagnant.

Concrete Splatter

Concrete tends to have a thick, sometimes gloppy, consistency so it can be difficult to pour it without getting the surrounding area splattered with concrete as well. You can take multiple precautions to prevent concrete splatter including simple things like moving any furniture or objects away from the area where you are pouring.

However, sometimes, depending on where you are pouring it can be difficult to move objects that could be splattered on. Other times, you might simply forget to move objects and have some concrete splatter to deal with post-DIY-job.

If you are pouring concrete on your driveway and end up getting a little concrete mixture on your car’s paint job, know that there are ways to fix it. A light water and muriatic acid solution can remove concrete from vehicle paint without damaging it.

Improper Steel Mesh Placement

Another important thing to be aware of when you’re doing your own concrete projects is the placement of the steel reinforcement or mesh. If this steel reinforcement is not placed correctly, eventual corrosion could occur which is a difficult problem to address.

In order to place it correctly, you’ll need to ensure that the mesh is as closely in the center of the concrete. So you’ll need to pour a little more than half of your concrete into the form, place the mesh and allow for it to sink a bit, and then pour the remaining concrete. Following this method will help prevent cracks.

Improper Form

Another mistake that is easy to make when DIY-ing concrete jobs is spending too little time reinforcing the form that outlines the concrete shape. For example, if you’re planning to add some concrete slabs to an area of your yard, invest time in not only forming the wood mold but also in ensuring that the ground is even.

Then, you should actually dig a little trench for the form to sit in in order to anchor it and prevent possible leaks when the concrete is poured.

Insufficient Curing Time

After you’ve poured the concrete, you should make sure that you leave the correct amount of time for the concrete to actually cure before you walk on the concrete or place furniture on it. Even though concrete will typically harden within 24 to 48 hours, it actually isn’t fully cured until later—often for a whole week.

You should set aside this time and try to protect the concrete from potential wetness during this curing.  Once this curing stage has been passed, you can paint the concrete or place furniture on it. But don’t take these steps too early even if it’s tempting.

Uneven Concrete Design

When you’re doing your own concrete, it’s important to not only create a solid mold, a good mixture, and then pour the concrete correctly, but you should also think about the design that you want imprinted on your concrete.

Failing to put any form of design on your concrete could result in your concrete being slick and dangerous if wet. This could result in injury for pedestrians. But it could also result in your car skidding. So be sure to use the proper technique to add texture to your concrete. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use the trowel and simply slide it over the concrete.

Concrete doesn’t have to be a complicated material to work with. If you know what you’re up against and are armed with the right tools, you should be able to successfully complete your DIY concrete project. Start with the preventive measures then branch out from there.

Read this next: How to Make Your Home Safe from Electrical Hazards

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