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Dangers of DIY Concrete Pouring and When to Call in a Professional

If you’re planning to put in a new concrete driveway, patio, or other surfaces, you might be considering pouring the concrete yourself. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to run into practical and aesthetic issues, or even safety concerns, when pouring concrete yourself.  Keep reading to find out what you need to know before you start your…

The post Dangers of DIY Concrete Pouring and When to Call in a Professional appeared first on GWC Decorative Concrete.

Republished by Plato



If you’re planning to put in a new concrete driveway, patio, or other surfaces, you might be considering pouring the concrete yourself. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to run into practical and aesthetic issues, or even safety concerns, when pouring concrete yourself. 

Keep reading to find out what you need to know before you start your own DIY concrete project and when you should call a professional.

Pouring Concrete Yourself: What Can Go Wrong

Pouring your own concrete is a lot more complicated than laying pavers, spreading gravel, or even pouring asphalt. Doing it correctly requires knowledge, skill, and careful planning, along with the right materials, tools, and equipment.

While pouring your own concrete is doable in certain situations, it’s important to do plenty of research to make sure it’s something you want to tackle yourself. Here are some common DIY concrete mistakes you’ll want to avoid:

Improper Preparation

Excavating the area with a shovel and clearing plants and debris is not enough to prepare a site for pouring concrete. If your concrete is sitting on top of loose soil, it will quickly start to crack, crumble, and degrade as the soil settles.

To achieve a long-lasting concrete surface and avoid cracks, it’s important to create a firm base. This involves using a plate compactor to make sure the soil is tightly packed, carefully leveling the surface, and building, installing, and leveling forms (borders).

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions (like rain and wind) can damage your concrete in the hours and days after you pour it. It’s also important to consider the long-term effects of your area’s climate on your concrete’s durability and appearance.

If you live in an area with freeze/thaw conditions in winter, you’ll want to make sure you use air-entrained concrete to prevent cracking, scaling, and crumbling over time.

The Wrong Tools

Using the wrong tools can leave you with an uneven surface and lead to bumps, holes, and cracks. Strong, heavy-duty tools are necessary when working with concrete since wooden or plastic tools can snap while you work. Since pouring concrete is time-sensitive, it’s critical that you have everything you need on hand before you begin mixing your concrete.

Here are the most important tools you need:

  • Large wheelbarrow to transport your concrete
  • Concrete mixer (electric mixers are most efficient)
  • Bull float or darby to flatten the wet surface
  • Magnesium float to smooth bumps
  • Heavy-duty concrete groover for installing control joints
  • Broom or concrete brush to create enough texture to avoid a slippery finish

The Wrong Amount of Water

One of the most common DIY concrete mistakes is using the wrong amounts of water and dry concrete. The ratio of water to dry concrete in your mixture is very important to the appearance and durability of your concrete surface. Wet concrete should not be runny or chunky, but smooth and malleable. 

It’s common for homeowners to add too much water to the mixture because softening the concrete makes it easier to work with. But even a small excess of water tends to weaken your concrete mixture, leading to a runny, uneven pour and compromising the strength of your concrete.

Insufficient Safety Precautions

There’s a reason that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific safety standards for construction workers. Any time you’re working with heavy equipment and potentially hazardous tools and materials, it’s important to take safety precautions.

Concrete is a relatively safe material to work with. That being said, it’s important to protect your eyes, ears, respiratory system, and skin when mixing and pouring concrete. You also want to be careful lifting heavy items to prevent injury.

At a minimum, you should have the following when mixing and pouring concrete:

  • Long pants and sleeves
  • Safety glasses, sunglasses, or other eye protection
  • Earplugs or other ear protection (when operating heavy equipment)
  • Alkali-resistant gloves
  • Work or rubber boots
  • Face mask
  • Soap and water nearby to wash skin and rinse eyes if necessary

When to Call a Professional

The best way to make sure you end up with high-quality, durable, and aesthetically pleasing concrete is to work with a team of knowledgeable, experienced professionals who are local to your area and know your climate.

If you’re pouring a basic slab of concrete on level ground in the middle of a mild, dry summer, you may be able to handle it yourself. You’re most likely better off calling a professional if any of the following are true for you:

  • You’re unsure of what you want or need
  • You have a particular (or custom) design, color, or texture in mind
  • You’re dealing with a slope or uneven ground
  • You don’t have the right tools

If you just don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself for any reason, contacting a professional is the way to go!

Are you looking for a professional concrete company you can trust? Have questions about your project?

With more than 75 years of combined experience working with decorative concrete, we offer customized solutions and can promise you a safe, clean, and timely process. Whether you’re looking to replace your old, cracked concrete driveway, install a new pool deck, or design a unique custom porch with incorporated lighting, we’ll give you a beautiful, functional result that will last for years to come.

Call us today at (503) 849-0901 or contact us online to get a free estimate.

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Protecting Your Concrete Before Winter

With fall in full swing and the Louisiana heat finally starting to simmer down, it’s officially time to finish those yard enhancements that you’ve been putting off all summer. When preparing your yard for the freezes to come this winter, it’s important to include concrete in your checklist. All outdoor concrete surfaces need to be
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The post Protecting Your Concrete Before Winter appeared first on Port Aggregates.

Republished by Plato



With fall in full swing and the Louisiana heat finally starting to simmer down, it’s officially time to finish those yard enhancements that you’ve been putting off all summer. When preparing your yard for the freezes to come this winter, it’s important to include concrete in your checklist.

All outdoor concrete surfaces need to be protected before winter hits. As temperatures begin to drop below freezing, repeated freeze/thaw cycles will cause your concrete to expand and contract, resulting in unsightly cracks when spring begins.

How to prevent winter cracks

One of the best (and most appealing) ways to protect your concrete this winter is with a decorative finish. 

A decorative concrete finish gives your surface an extra layer of protection and durability without replacing the entire slab. You can also customize its appearance with an endless array of colors and patterns. 

These finishes act as a concrete treatment and can protect against erosion from heavy rains, repeated freeze/thaw cycles, unsightly stains caused by decomposing leaves, and grout deterioration. 

If you’re satisfied with the appearance of your concrete and are looking for a cheaper option, concrete sealer is another great way to protect your existing slab during the winter. This will help protect your concrete without changing its appearance. 

Additional benefits of a decorative concrete overlay

Decorative concrete overlays can cover any imperfections, including discoloration and cracks, and transform your slab into a beautiful and protective slab. 

Whether you choose stamped concrete, stained concrete, or imitation stone to restore your outdoor area, you can rest assured that it will stay protected for years to come. Even in the rapidly changing Louisiana climate. 

With a decorative concrete overlay, you can create the appearance of flagstone, slate, hardwood, or cobblestone without spending an arm and a leg on real stone. Because the overlay is sealed, it will be resistant to chipping, peeling, staining, and weathering.

Don’t wait another day to protect your concrete from this year’s winter. With the Louisiana weather being as crazy as it has been in 2020, there’s no telling what this winter will bring. Start taking steps to protect your driveway now and contact Port Aggregates for assistance. We look forward to helping you keep your concrete safe this winter!


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Rebuilding the Future of Concrete Construction with Smart Technology

While local preference in building materials varies from region to region, high-rise construction in the Greater Toronto Area, especially in the residential subcategory, is exclusively done with concrete. Despite concrete having been available since the days of Ancient Rome, 20th- and 21st-century technological advancements have made it the medium of choice for an expanding range of uses.  In a region […]

Republished by Plato



While local preference in building materials varies from region to region, high-rise construction in the Greater Toronto Area, especially in the residential subcategory, is exclusively done with concrete. Despite concrete having been available since the days of Ancient Rome, 20th- and 21st-century technological advancements have made it the medium of choice for an expanding range of uses. 

In a region like the GTA, with a variety of microclimates and underlying geological conditions, specialized types of concrete are being employed with increasing regularity. Customized formulations of concrete mixes now cater to foundations and caisson walls for sites with high water tables that need to be watertight, or road and water infrastructure that need particularly hardened varieties, and various other applications like industrial floors where standard concrete mixes aren’t necessarily up to the task.

One admixture manufacturer helping the construction industry create new varieties of concrete mixes is Kryton International Inc. For over four decades, Kryton has produced admixtures using Smart Concrete technology, which has allowed concrete producers and builders to give their concrete the necessary waterproofing and durability qualities. 

When Kryton first produced an admixture in the early 1980s, they developed a unique waterproofing admixture with a type of Smart Concrete technology known as Krystol® technology. With this feature, builders no longer needed to use waterproofing membranes. Instead, they could add Kryton’s admixture to their concrete mix, which would turn the concrete itself into a waterproof barrier. At any sign of water ingress then, the concrete would react, forming numerous needle-shaped crystals that fill up capillary pores and micro-cracks to prevent water from entering. 

Applications like this are especially important where construction of deep foundations spans a range of geological conditions. Our region’s glacial history and the resulting networks of ravines and waterways create challenging groundwater conditions for underground construction, while the need in dense areas and the desire in others to hide unsightly parking below ground are forcing builders to put their foundations deeper underground.

One such example is Terraces on the Park, a seven-storey building located in the Humber River valley in the Toronto suburb of Woodbridge. The site’s riverside location’s high water table and significant hydrostatic pressure means that waterproofing was critical for all underground concrete components. As a result, the foundation walls, slab-on-grade area, two levels of below grade parking, and the building’s exterior terraces were treated with Kryton’s Krystol Internal Membrane™ (KIM®) waterproofing admixture, while joints and tieholes were waterproofed with Kryton’s Krystol® Waterstop System. With Downtown Toronto situated on a former glacial lakebed and a proliferation of tall towers being built on reclaimed land on the waterfront, these waterproofing solutions have plenty of other potential applications in foundation construction around the city.

KIM technology was also incorporated into the concrete at the 2014-built Gibson Square Condominiums in North York City Centre, a project that may be more familiar to UrbanToronto readers. With construction already well underway at the time, Kryton’s products were used as a solution to waterproof a south foundation wall. With a constrained site footprint and no room for a trench to accommodate a traditional external waterproofing membrane, Kryton’s KIM admixture was added directly to the concrete mix for a faster, more cost-effective solution to the site-specific challenge. The benefits were immediately noted by the project team, who subsequently selected KIM for the waterproofing of the complex’s elevator pits.

A popular water feature in Toronto’s East Bayfront, Sherbourne Common, utilizes the same KIM waterproofing admixture for its lengthy concrete water channel, allowing the concrete to serve as an architectural finish without the need for additional water-sealing layers that could impact the aesthetic.

A more recent development in concrete admixtures produced by Kryton is being used in projects where increased abrasion resistance and durability are requirements. Projects like roads, hydro spillways, industrial flooring, agriculture, power generation, and marine structures are being built with the integral hardening admixture known as Hard-Cem®.

One local application of Hard-Cem was at the TTC’s new McNicoll Bus Garage, now late in its construction in Scarborough. The project’s construction team added Hard-Cem to the concrete used to form the building, increasing the hardness of the concrete paste and reducing wear loss and aggregate exposure due to abrasion. The result was a durable concrete structure capable of withstanding the constant surface abrasion and salt exposure associated with frequent bus movements.

This resistance to surface abrasion and salt exposure also makes this durable concrete a good candidate for warehouses and facilities that deal with harsh wear and tear throughout Ontario and the rest of Canada. There are plenty of examples of this, but a particularly significant one can be seen at Markham’s Earl Turcott Waste Management Facility. Considered to be the largest of its kind in Canada, this facility processes around 2,600 metric tons of waste and accommodates at least 350 vehicles. Despite the ongoing surface abrasion and erosive forces that result from this activity, the facility has stayed in working shape for over a decade with the help of Hard-Cem-treated concrete. 

Keeping in the spirit of Smart Concrete, Kryton’s latest big move came last year with the acquisition of a 30% interest in and North American distribution rights for a Denmark-based company producing advanced sensor technology known as Maturix®. This innovation attaches type K thermocouple cables to reinforcing steel, which will get immersed in concrete, and connects those cables to the sensors. That way, contractors only have to replace the cheap cables and can reuse these sensors for multiple projects. In return, the sensors monitor and log temperature data every 10 minutes and wirelessly transmit that data to Sigfox, a cloud-based platform. The platform then takes that data and time data to determine what strength the concrete currently has. Both temperature data and strength development data are then sent wirelessly to any connected device a contractor and their team chooses. All of which makes it easy to monitor concrete from anywhere at any time, giving the contractor, engineer, and any other team members the information they need to make critical decisions in a time-effective manner.

Overall, these updates to concrete construction will ensure that concrete remains the top material for thousands more years of civilization-shaping projects.

Excerpted From Urban Toronto


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Oct 4, Diy Concrete Driveway Cost – The Real Cost Of Doing It Yourself!

A concrete driveway costs between $6 – $8 dollars per square foot for plain gray concrete and $10 – $20 dollars per square foot for decorative concrete.

Republished by Plato



A concrete driveway costs from $6 to $8 dollars per square foot to install for plain gray concrete and from $10 to $20 dollars per square foot for a colored and stamped concrete driveway.

If you’re going to “do it yourself”, you will save some money on the labor costs. Labor costs of a concrete driveway usually range from 50% to 60% of the total costs of installation.

the average costs of a concrete driveway

The average concrete driveway costs between $2400.00 and $4800.00 to install based on a 400 square foot to 600 square foot driveway size. That’s based on a thickness of 4 inches with a 2 foot mat of rebar for reinforcement.

The gravel sub-base preparation could add  $1000.00 to $4000.00 to the total cost depending on how much gravel you need and if you have to demo and haul off an existing driveway.

Doing the work yourself you could save half of the costs above. Material costs for concrete and rebar for a 16′ x 25′ x 4″ concrete driveway will cost between $1000 and $1200 dollars.  

how much it costs to pour a 12′ x 40′ concrete driveway

Design and Gravel Prep
Forming and Reinforcement
Pouring the concrete
Finished concrete driveway

The costs breakdown for a 12′ by 40′ concrete driveway like the one we did above are below:

  1. Remove existing driveway and gravel prep – Labor 600.00 – Materials $600.00
  2. Forming & install reinforcement – Labor $750 – Materials $150
  3. Pouring & Finishing the concrete – Labor $1500 – Concrete $1100 (5″ thick)

Total cost of the concrete driveway: $4700.00

Deduct labor costs if you do it yourself: $4700 – $2850 = $1850.00 diy concrete driveway cost.

NOTE: These are my costs of labor and materials in my area, your actual costs for both of these may vary greatly depending on your situation.

basic tools for pouring a concrete driveway

Here’s a list of tools we use to pour and finish a basic plain gray broom finished concrete driveway:

Please note, these are affiliate links and I may make a small commission if you click through to Amazon and purchase these tools.

can i pour my own concrete driveway?

The basic steps for pouring a new concrete driveway are:

  1. Remove or demo the existing driveway (if needed)
  2. Design & Permits – Check with local building codes for permits & design specifications
  3. Excavation and gravel prep – install and compact gravel for the sub-base (the amount of gravel needed will vary depending on your conditions and climate.) 1 foot minimum gravel base.
  4. Install forms based on your design. Use 2×4’s or 2×6’s for straight forms and PVC boards for curves.
  5. Lay your reinforcement – Use 3/8″ or 1/2″ rebar and tie a mat 2 foot on center throughout the driveway then place bricks under it to hold it up in the middle of the concrete. Or use wire mesh.
  6. Calculate and order your concrete from the local ready mix concrete plant. (give them at least a weeks notice.)
  7. Pour the concrete level with the top of your forms, screed and bull float it smooth.
  8. Finishing the concrete – wait for the concrete to set up and use an edger to round the edges, mag float the surface, then drag a fine broom across the concrete to give it it’s final finish/texture.
  9. Saw contraction joints in the concrete the next day to help prevent cracking.
  10. Seal the concrete to protect it.

To learn how to work with concrete and the basic skills needed to install your own concrete driveway, check out  my concrete training academy The Concrete Underground.

other factors that add to the cost of installing a driveway

  • Your landscape – Is the area flat, slightly sloped, or steep. A steep sloped concrete driveway is more difficult to prep, pour, and finish which could add to the cost of installation.
  • The Driveway Size – A large driveway or a very long driveway would greatly add to the final cost. Concrete is a very expensive building material and adds about $150 per 65 sq. ft. of driveway.
  • How thick your concrete is – Driveway thickness contributes a large percentage  to the cost of a driveway. Concrete costs about $150 per yard – At 4″ thick that will cover 80 sq. ft. At 5″ thick that covers 65 sq. ft. At 6″ thick that covers 50 sq. ft.
  • Driveway design – Curved, circular, half moon shaped, or irregular angles may increase the material (and labor) costs. 
  • Adding color to the mix – Adding 1 bag of color per yard of concrete can add up to $80 per yard of concrete.
  • Stamping the concrete – Stamped concrete averages about $15 – $20 dollars per sq. ft. for labor and materials. 

how to build and pour a concrete driveway

The video below by Odell’s Complete Concrete will show you the basic steps it takes to build and install your own concrete driveway.

It shows you the demo and prep work, forming, pouring, and finishing process.


The diy concrete driveway costs above are figures I use when I give estimates for my customers in my area. 

These costs may change considerably depending on the cost of materials and labor in your area.

Please use these costs as a guide to help you consider whether or not you want to attempt to do your own concrete driveway or not.

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