Question How to lay a simple slab of concrete

Discussion in 'Building DIY, Machinery & Tools' started by Mark, Aug 5, 2013.

  1. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Before I go building my pizza oven extraordinaire I need to practice my concrete slab building and it so happens I have an area down by my chicken pen which needs to be hard standing.

    I've heard about concrete "going off" etc and I'm wondering if doing a slab of about 2 x 2 mtrs is easy enough by hand for one person. I would be mixing it myself etc (probably hire a portable cement mixer).

    I've never laid a slab before. Is this feasible?
     
  2. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    I've never laid a slab before either but have cemented in fence posts and I definately agree with hiring a mixer. It is real heavy work and you will be very thankful you are not manually mixing that stuff.

    Other than that you just box it up with timber, use a bit of reo, and make sure it doesn't dry too quickly by covering with a tarp if in the hot sun but you should be right at this time of year. If you set your timber box up level with the top of where you want the slab you can then use that timber to screed off and level it.
    And leave the surface a bit rough so it's not slippery when wet.

    Should be pretty simple.
     
  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Thanks for that. :) I feel a little more relaxed about it knowing those simple hints. Now I just have to work out how much I need. Cheers :thumbsup:
     
  4. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    no advice from me, but I better comment anyway...

    I helped with a small 3m x3m slab about 10 years ago, we got a truck in and barrowed the concrete about 20 metres across to the site, the barrows had flat tyres, that was hard work. Apart from that I don't remember much else.

    My neighbour recently extended his shed slab, he took his old shed down, extended the slab to make a 3m x 3m slab and built a new shed. He's a bit of a perfectionist and mucked around for ages with the boxing to get it all square and level. He had the mixer beside the slab and just poured it straight in. It didn't take very long so he had plenty of time for screeding it and fussy over it. , then he spent the next hour wondering how he got the calculations wrong and had a heap of left over cement bags and sand, not that it mattered, he just likes everything to work out.

    When we did the shed slab 10 years ago we had some left over so quickly found somewhere to put it, we made a little ramp for the carport.

    So maybe the only advice I'd give is, have a look around and see if there's any other little jobs so if you have a couple of buckets left over you can make something usefull instead of throwing it away.... maybe cement some gate posts in for your chicken run gate?
     
  5. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    This is a good idea Stevo, have the mixer next to the job so you dont have to cart that stuff. Its as heavy as concrete! :D

    Here's some other advice I thought of:
    1. Wash all tools straight after or it will be a pain later once it dries rock hard.
    2. The Bunnings website has DIY brochures with one for laying concrete and one for mixing concrete. Might give you some tips.
    3. Go have a read of a cement bag as it will tell you how much you need (qty of bags) for the cubic meterage (L x B x D). There are also websites that have built in calculators for cementing. Let google do the work.
    4. I've heard of two good recipes/ratios. 1:2:3 (1 part cement, 2 parts sand, 3 parts gravel. Or 1:2:4 where there are 4 parts gravel). I dont think it would make much difference but probably cheaper with 4 parts gravel.
    5. Spare cement is also good for laying along a fence (chicken run) where you dont want a dog or coyote to dig under. Thats what I used my leftover cement for.
    Cheers,
     
  6. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    and..... I think you either lay a plastic sheet under the slab or hose down the dirt so the water doesn't get sucked out of the concrete too fast.
     
  7. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Awesome! I think I've got all I need to know right here - lot's of good points guys. If I can get my first slab down pat I may just turn into "the mad concrete er-er" - I can think of a million jobs to do around here now :D
     
  8. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    Maybe weigh up the hire costs over a few times verses buying a cheap mixer? ( I don't have a clue how much they are) .. and then you have one for ever. How about getting an old one with a burnt out motor, convert it to manual by welding a handle on it..... that will give you a good work out to keep you fit, build up your arms :ROFL:
     
  9. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Yeah then we can borrow it when we want to lay a slab....:wave:
     
  10. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Very funny guys :mad: Are you saying my arms aren't big enough? :p

    However, I will do that - look into buying one - because it may well be better value than hiring. Good call.

    Yeah, I'd loan the mixer out no worries... but it might cost a piece of that homemade rye bread (with a little piece of brie and a smear of quince paste) :D
     
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  11. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I priced two cement mixers at Masters and they seemed pretty reasonable! The one on the left (909 blue) actually holds a little more than the Westmix (right) but is significantly cheaper - I have no idea why and I didn't ask. I wonder how reliable they are? I guess with a 2 year guarantee it's seems like a good deal?

    If anyone has had any experience with cement mixers I'm all ears :)

    mixer cement masters blue 909 masters.jpg mixer cement masters orange cuft.jpg
     
  12. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    bit of a price difference eh, Masters link: http://www.masters.com.au/product/900001147/909-cement-mixer-4cf-115l

    i haven't found any info, except for one bad review on Masters
    "this appliance is a waste of time first use great, second use wouldn't spin around after the second shovel of sand. motor doesn't have the power. PAY THE EXTRA GET A BETTER BRAND"

    but you can get that kind of experience with anything. Your warranty should fix that issue. The $600 one does look better but who knows. Have you priced a weekend hire to compare?

    I hired a big water blaster last weekend and it was $180. That would pay for a new small Karcha, but it was an awesome industrial water blaster and could put you on your a%$rse.... but anyways, yeah, always a good discussion to buy or hire.
     
  13. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Hmmm, nice find - don't know about buying the 909 then...

    I haven't priced hiring one and I definitely will do so. But, I'm leaning towards buying because I figure if I can get this DIY concreting down pat there are at least 5 immediate projects I can think of to do so I should come out ahead buying.

    I'm also going to visit the local concreting supplies and see how much it is to buy wet mix from them ready to pour after I've done the form work - it could be more cost effective that way.

    Determined to get these concreting jobs done this spring.
     
  14. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    The orange one looks 'faster'.

    The problem I find with Masters is I don't recognize some of the brands and that scares me off sometimes.
    These brands aren't familiar to me so my gut instinct is to shy away but that's just me. And here's me buying a no-name brand dehydrator! Look, best not listen to me. I'm all over the place.

    But I'll continue anyways..... The elec motor has to be the most important thing with these. My advice, find the one with the best motor that you are willing to pay for. I would of course make sure the rest is solid enough but the motor is top priority IMHO.

    You can always buy a better motor later as long as it has some sort of easy mounting system and is viable. Maybe you could google elec motor replacement to see if it would be worth it.

    2 yr warranty seems reasonable too.
    Again, I'm all over place..... :tease:
     
  15. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    yeah Mark, apart from this job, i think for you because you have the land and probably a lot of future jobs it might be good invest in a decent mixer.

    BUT, yes, do check all prices, mixer/hire/delivery
     
  16. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    And remember that Stevo and me are going to be borrowing that baby so make sure it's a good one, we don't want to be using some cheap-ass mixer. Put it this way, it had better have a stubbie holder!
     
  17. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    There's a petrol 2nd hand mixer on gumtree on the north side. Looks a bit rough but petrol is a good idea when you don't have power handy.

    But you could be inheriting someone else's problems too.
     
  18. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Obviously three heads are better than one and you guys make a lot of good points; except, I'm pretty sure they don't come with a stubbie holder... I guess I could make one (Stevo could probably weld it on).

    Yeah, I've thought of a petrol but my shed is pretty central and I can run a line out from there (only got 3 acres).

    That's what I'm thinking, But, I will still go and do some sums (sounds like Chinese food) and then post my appreciation here.
     
  19. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    A couple of weeks ago I started on the "storage shed" area. I'm not fully 100% committed to this plan yet but I think it's what I want. I cleared an area for the shed slab and have bought some timber for the boxing etc. The shed will be around 3m x 2.2m. The fella at the landscape supplies said it'd be about $170 for the cement and gravel, and hire of the mixer and delivery, so I thought that sounded pretty good. Cheaper than pavers. I have started, but I have been sidetracked with soo many other things. I think this will be one of those 6 month projects.

    Things slowing me down: I haven't bought the shed yet, around $800 - $900. I've looked for second hand ones and they're usually a bit crap and you have to drive to Toowoomba and disassemble it etc. I thought "new" might be good.

    no the sleepers are not the boxing for the slab! The red line shows the slab area, and the blue line shows the water tank location.
    [​IMG]

    Grass is scraped off and chooks are inspecting the area
    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Cool! I'm keen to see how you go with this so I cam learn how to lay my pizza oven slab.

    Reckon it will cost more than $170 though... Happy for you to prove me wrong :)

    I got my shed from www.cheapsheds.com.au they're very good to deal with :thumbsup:
     
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