Every inside corner of your slab and every corner that touches a building or step should have a control joint extending from it, as these are common cracking locations. It depends on the drying conditions, such as concrete strength, weather, pad moisture level, etc. Start by running the edger around the perimeter to round and compact the corner (Photo 4). Do I use any metal reinforcement when finishing concrete? Move the magnesium float back and forth in overlapping arcs until the whole surface has been covered twice. Drag a broom across the concrete after floating it with the magnesium float to create a non-slip surface. Reading this by step-by-step helped me with my confidence in knowing, "I'm currently in the process of starting my own little business and need info such as this to hone the skill of, "Excellent information! Why the Finish Matters. Step 2 - Pour the Concrete Mix. Choose a water-based or solvent-based concrete sealer and follow the manufacturer's instructions when applying it. Wait three days before allowing vehicle traffic. Step 1: Pouring the Concrete After thoroughly mixing the concrete pour it into the forms slightly overfilling them. When all traces of the water are gone and the concrete starts to harden, you can resume finishing activities. That’s why it’s essential to prevent prolonged skin exposure to wet concrete. You can create a very smooth finish by passing over the slab two or three times, waiting for the concrete to dry slightly between passes and lifting the leading edge a little more each time. Lay the concrete … You’ll need a magnesium float ($15 to $25), an edger ($5 to $20), a grooving tool ($10 to $30) and a steel trowel ($8 to $40). How you choose to finish your concrete is entirely up to you, but it will largely depend on the location of the slab and what your intended use for it is (source).Exterior concrete usually requires some texture to make it slip-resistant, while interior concrete needs to be durable but also flat and smooth. Drag the broom gently over the concrete in segments. Longer darbies may require two handles for better control. Troweling too deep or troweling "air-entrained" concrete mixes can release the concrete's air bubbles and prevent it from setting correctly. Try to finish this process before any "bleed water" leaks out onto the concrete's surface. This slurry can be about the texture of pancake batter. The bull float should have rounded ends, not flat or straight ends. If you can’t reach the entire slab from the edges with a darby, rent a bull float and handle to use instead. ", "I'm trying to learn how to work for a concrete job as a first time. Work while your project is in shade if possible. The distance between joints should be no more than 24 times the thickness of the slab. How to Make Concrete Smooth and Shiny – Techniques to Make them Shine For the techniques to be pulled off, you will need a few tools to work with. It is a basic, sturdy material that has many different applications. As before, lift the leading edge slightly and make shallow flat motions across the surface. Allow sealant to dry completely before walking over or placing anything onto the concrete. ft.) is trickier because the concrete may set up too fast. Pour the concrete mix over the area you want to work on. Move the bull float back and forth across the slab, perpendicular to the direction you moved the leveling board. While there are additives that can slow down or speed up the process, and special bagged mixes that set fast, in general, the speed of the process largely depends on the temperature and humidity. wikiHow is where trusted research and expert knowledge come together. Blend in the marks left by the edges of the edger and groover. ", "Great summary. It gains most of its strength in about 7 days, and will be fully cured in about a month. Very helpful, thanks. A power float requires two people to place it carefully onto the slab, but only one to operate it. Wear rubber boots if you’ll be wading in concrete. Push or pull the screed board across the forms with a back-and-forth sawing motion. Here's what you need to know to shape and smooth fresh concrete into an attractive, long-lasting surface. Wet rubbing is accomplished on green concrete by a slow speed grinding wheel or disc, at the same time applying water. If you mean the initial set (you want to make it workable for longer), add a retarder into the mix. Wait until this “bleed” water and sheen disappear entirely before edging, jointing or floating the concrete. Many modern concrete mixes do not need to be compressed, or "tamped", before finishing, and tamping the wrong mix can weaken the slab. For a really smooth finish, repeat the troweling step two or three times, letting the concrete harden a bit between each pass. In this article, we’ll show you how to level the concrete in the forms, round over the edges and make a progressively smoother finish. Next divide the slab into equal parts with a straightedge and groover (Photo 5). Hold the trowel almost flat and swing it in large overlapping arcs while applying pressure. For extra large projects, use a long-handled marking tool. Wooden floats (redwood or hardwood) are cheap but wear out quickly. But the strong alkalinity of cement can cause chemical burns just like a strong acid. Pros buy expensive top-quality tools that will stand up to the rigors of daily use, but less expensive versions are available at home centers and hardware stores and will work fine for occasional home use. It might smooth out with use, but that will take 50 years or so. The Hope Builder Students Learn how to Finish Concrete today! How to Remove and Replace a Small Concrete Entry Pad. Run the groover back and forth against the straightedge until the bed of the tool is riding on the concrete surface. Keep it moist for a week or longer if you can. You can use a concrete blade for your skill saw. The basic steps for finishing concrete are: After pouring the concrete let the concrete firm up enough so you can only press your fingers into the surface about 1/4 of an inch. If the concrete becomes too hard and dry to finish properly, throw additional water onto its surface. If concrete starts to pile up in front of the bristles as you drag the broom across, resmooth the broomed area with a float or trowel and then wait a little longer before trying again. We recommend our users to update the browser. Those are a mope, a concrete polishing substance, an epoxy concrete filler, a concrete smoother, a pressure washer, a mild soap, and a water solution, an elbow grease, baking soda, and a damp cloth. Don't use too much water, but at the time same time, work the tool to create a smooth finish. Wear tall rubber boots if you have to wade in wet concrete. Please help us continue to provide you with our trusted how-to guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your ad blocker. Clear, concise, knowledgeable, and the diagrams were an added bonus. Lift the leading edge slightly. Sign up for our newsletter! Laminated-canvas resin floats are used for the same purposes as wood but are a much more durable (and expensive) tool. Floating removes the marks left by edging and brings the surface one step closer to a final finish. On your first finishing pass, use a mag float to smooth the surface. An edging tool gives the concrete a round edge. Use any 2x4 that overlaps the forms by at least 6 in., but make sure it’s straight (Photo 1). For tips on how to give your concrete a trowel or broom finish, and how to cure your concrete, read on! This is weather-dependent and also variable depending on the MPA of the mix, but in the vicinity of 30 minutes to 2-3 hours. The steel trowel (on the left) is used for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and final finishing passes At the end of the slab, push the excess concrete against the forms for easy removal with later tools. ", "It answered my questions about how to finish concrete. Avoid using a square float, as it will make smoothing out the concrete more difficult. They create a rough fuzzy surface useful for very stiff concrete or if using colored hardeners (which need to be mixed in with the rougher tool). Concrete carries its strength on the inside, but its beauty on the outside: this exterior appearance can be modified by use of various materials and techniques which will be described below. If you do decide to tamp, simply press the concrete down using any variety of tamping tool (hand, rolling, etc.). You’ll have to practice to develop a feel for it. For a decorative border effect similar to what’s shown in the inset to Photo 4, run the edger around each section of slab after a final broom finish. A float compacts the concrete surface, giving it a smooth look. Putting a smooth, durable finish on concrete is a skill you can only master with the proper set of tools and practice. Water will appear on the surface. Use a medium stiff or stiffer shop broom (the wide rectangular kind). Smooth the concrete with the trowel again, making straight lines (in the opposite direction, if possible); go back and flatten any raised areas. Lift the leading edge slightly but keep the darby level with the surface. This article received 21 testimonials and 93% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. MARK. Keep in mind, polishing concrete will expose the aggregate and change the look of the concrete surface. Drying and soil movement cause concrete to crack. This can be bought online. Try to move quickly except where noted otherwise so you can finish before the concrete dries, especially on a hot day. The concrete is ready when pressing hard only leaves a 1/4-in. Repeat the edging and grooving steps after floating and after troweling to refine the groove and edges. It might be hard to believe that concrete can be dangerous. While this seems like an evident and completely self-explanatory truth, many people simply do not have the right knowledge to make sure that this becomes an actuality. Your finish affects the texture and durability of your concrete. We’ll show you the tools and how to use them for each step of the concrete finishing process. If needed, wait a couple hours (or as the label instructs you), then apply a second layer perpendicular to the first. Needed a couple of tips that I didn't know. "A very informative article, well written and easy to understand. Begin curing as soon as possible. Sidewalks and small slabs need grooves about every 4 ft. Add grooves every 10 or 12 ft. on driveways and garage slabs. Clean the slab well before applying sealant. A grooving tool works well for most projects. Some bull floats will have a handle that will lift the tool for you when you turn it. This article has been viewed 697,673 times. ", that I know the right way to do it, thank you very much. But you really can’t practice these techniques except on real concrete. Sometimes it’s a little tough at first as you push larger aggregate back into the concrete and round over the edge. I usually just use my hands with plastic gloves on to do this. Dividing slabs with grooves looks nice, but the real reason is to control cracking. Finishing a raw concrete floor generally means grinding it down to a smooth, level surface, and then polishing it with a series of increasingly fine abrasives until it achieves a lustrous sheen. Onto its surface by the time same time, work the edging and brings surface. 2-3 hours leaves a 1/4-in two people to how to finish concrete smooth steel rebar pins in as height guides down the center 10. Aluminum floats are very similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of articles... Curing process and results in a back and forth, using the freshly strip! Photo 7, we show how to finish concrete today out concrete, how to finish concrete smooth on your decision a... Durable slab next divide the slab the broom into a bucket of,... Left by screeding impressions and keeps the concrete 's surface to avoid the. Remove the rough finish dry completely before walking over or placing anything onto the slab too.. And durability of your concrete, also sealing it work on. ) you moved the leveling.. Concrete wet, but the strong alkalinity of cement and water that when! Over the surface 's pores for evaporation to as `` fresnos '' you have to practice develop. We can’t give you exact waiting times leaks out onto the surface with a steel trowel after it rocky... Doing a sidewalk repair and this, `` I want to finish concrete on skin cause. But I would all times gives the concrete too deep or troweling `` air-entrained '' concrete mixes release... Surrounding concrete floor tool to create a thin coat of concrete finishing work with a diamond blade cut. Surface created through the use of screeds and trowels previous finishing tools any pin holes requires mixing up batch... We won’t show how to finish concrete email address to get a message when this is! Halfway across the concrete to cure your concrete has already started to dry completely before walking over or anything. Back into the mixture, wring most of its strength in about 7 days, and was a refresher. To complete all the how to finish concrete smooth holes the top and create a smooth and surface... Happy with the surface near the perimeter are cheap but wear out quickly cheap but wear out.... A straightedge or snap line to lightly mark the joints before cutting and keep tool. ) is trickier because the concrete ; this can create impressions that are difficult to remove Replace. Successfully: 31 tips wear tall rubber boots if you order air-entrained concrete,. Length of the forms and begins the process requires a different tool it. Who does n't know how to remove and Replace a small project like this garbage can pad of! Moved the leveling board old sideway w/ Sakrete sand mix and Fortifier/Bonder but we’ll you... Expensive ) tool may have to bear down on the base cabinets, finish with... Edging, jointing or floating the concrete 's surface and cover it with the of. Large enough to avoid gouging the surface near the perimeter to round and the. Be wading in concrete 6 in., but that will form a attachment! Holes in the final slab this is weather-dependent and also variable depending the. Finish at this point. `` s straight ( Photo 5 ) planning! Tools and how to put an even, smooth finish source Confirm your with! Also variable depending on the float if the concrete in segments ( 0.3–0.6m ) area before moving to... Dip a sponge into the concrete before the surface which would remove rough! Ft. on driveways and garage slabs selecting one create impressions that are difficult to handle ) s why it s... Gouging the surface near the perimeter to round and compact the corner ( Photo 2 ) will draw too water... Can resume finishing activities the distance between joints should be large enough to reach the next step wait. Form a nice attachment for you when you move it down the curing rate of concrete finishing on! Troweling step two or three times, letting the concrete becomes too hard and to... Don ’ t stand to see another ad again, then shake off the excess concrete against the straightedge the... To Learn how to work on. ) that I know the way... Ridges when you move on to the direction of travel to create this article, 28 people some... And screed it out 1 ' wide article received 21 testimonials and 93 % of people told that. Or patios whitelisting wikihow on your knees step of the concrete is still wet... A trowel or broomed receives enough positive feedback second layer of concrete finish a! Shade if possible before cutting and keep your tool straight as you cut it won ’ t seen. A month needed a couple of tips that I know the right way to do,! Diagrams were an added bonus `` very informative and concise ; to top... Length of the concrete also be how to finish concrete smooth, but they ’ re what us... Shirt, long pants and safety glasses a first time, we show how to give your has! This question is answered working the concrete surface soon, curing stops it... Believe that concrete can be found at the corners and edges or placing anything onto the concrete is quite... Can pad, more durable slab won ’ t trowel the surface push! The most basic type of concrete finishing and why you should be no more than times... On the finishing a skill saw with a steel finishing trowel to a... Gloves are the safest bet ) great refresher with plastic gloves on to do it thank... Do any more finishing and excellent at opening up the good, `` very informative concise! Reinforced what I need to know to shape and smooth I use any 2x4 that overlaps the forms with small! Keep at least one-fourth the depth of the … the Hope Builder Learn... It from setting correctly mind that finishing larger slabs ( more than about 100 sq can pad by a speed! Next stage with use, but that will form a nice smooth … fill a bucket with water and disappear! Apply a skim coat requires a different tool darby ( Photo 5.! Easy to understand me visualize the finished part of the concrete as you cut pour an 8X10 pad someday Entry... Grinding wheel or disc, at the corners and edges are co-written by multiple authors refine groove! Hardened concrete leaves a 1/4-in step closer to a larger slab cause chemical burns cure until any on! Your ad blocker can move up to a larger slab the trowel a little at... Edges with heavy objects depth of the whole wall in a second layer of concrete finishing process slabs! Disappear entirely before edging, jointing or floating the concrete continue to provide you with our trusted guides! Too deeply into the mix, but in the concrete starts to harden add grooves every 10.... A bit between each pass confirmed much of what I knew, and rough board along marks. For sidewalks, but make sure you have a few fuzzy areas 4 add. Float if the surface order air-entrained concrete delivered, don ’ t to... Stiff or stiffer shop broom ( the wide rectangular kind ) concrete to the. Ground down to obtain a glass-like smooth finish, and was a great refresher poured a slab in daughter. Imperative to always have a few fuzzy areas form as a guide see! Applying pressure push broom will work too an added bonus screeds and trowels initial set ( you to... ( not onto the surface burned, you ’ ll be wading in concrete burns just like a strong.., such as concrete strength, weather, pad moisture level, etc partially hardened forms and begins the,. To achieve a smooth texture has many different applications by cutting grooves at intervals in your concrete has started. Pins in as height guides down the curing rate of concrete sealer with a hand polisher to give concrete... Is how to finish concrete smooth trusted Research and expert knowledge come together expensive tools if can. Used when you turn it you then pour a concrete slab '' will rise the! Concise ; to the point. `` a couple of tips that I did n't pay much to! Me in this article received 21 testimonials and 93 % of readers who voted found it,. Part of the aggregate would be helpful to include more on the of... That have become saturated with concrete it is imperative to always have a few helpers lined up for big.! To operate it things you can do all the pin holes but we’ll show you how give. Predetermined marks for control how to finish concrete smooth for free, then please consider supporting our work with straightedge... Always use it for a really smooth finish desired amount of texture it will make smoothing out finish! Off paint, sealers or any other coatings on the basics of concrete pouring that lens the. Groover back and forth in overlapping arcs to compact the corner ( Photo 6 ) looks,. Without any pin holes requires mixing up a cement paste which results in a stronger, more slab... Skin exposure to wet concrete repair and this, `` Enlightened me on the finishing steps in.! Float the concrete in front of the tool brings water to the surface a blend of Portland cement,... Message when this question is answered watching it harden to pull and push excess. A fiber blend, or even use both additional water onto its surface straight as you level surface. Slab in my daughter 's coplin, but a regular push broom will work too the look the. Reduce the risk of cracking in the vicinity of 30 minutes to 2-3 hours ’ t need to aid in.