Basic Concreting for Contractors: 10 Must-Have Concrete Tools
Working with wet concrete is a fine balance between timing and having the correct tools on-hand for the job.
Once concrete has been poured, no one wants to turn around and find that they’re short of an essential tool in order to get the job done on time.
While there are numerous high-tech power tools available to complete a concreting job, some of the most basic tools are equally as important.
As a concreting contractor, here are 10 of the most essential concrete tools to have in your arsenal for the perfect concreting job.
10 Concrete Tools Every Contractor Should Own
Ask any contractor who’s worked closely with concrete before – concrete waits for no one once it’s been poured! If you aren’t prepared with the right tools, you might find yourself in a serious dilemma.
To add to this, the right concrete finishing tools spell the difference between the perfect concreting project or a complete disaster.
Most concreting equipment is basic and does not require a whole lot of investment. It’s important to own these basic tools as a contractor, rather than forking out unnecessarily on equipment hire.
Yes, some of the more high-tech, specialty equipment is a little more expensive, but it’s certainly worth the investment if used on a regular basis.
As a contractor, keep in mind that simple, no-frills hand tools are a huge part of any concreting job and will always be 100% necessary onsite.
Some of these may include trusty staples such as a handheld float, trowel, saws, shovels, rakes, and kneeling boards.
Other than that, here are 10 essentials to add to your concreting equipment:
1. Concrete Screeds
Screeds are an extremely important tool to ensure your concrete is as smooth and flat as possible once it’s been poured.
Screeds are long and straight pieces of tubing or board, available in a variety of sizes for specific concreting projects.
For hand-screeding projects, make sure your screed is longer than the width of your concrete form. This allows the screed to glide along the top edges of the form while smoothing out your concrete.
2. Concrete Vibrators
A concrete vibrator is used to compact and settle concrete once it’s been poured so that it dries out evenly and smoothly.
There are four basic concrete vibrators that most contractors use onsite:
- An internal vibrator, also known as a needle, which uses a vibrating probe to settle wet concrete
- A form vibrator which attaches to the outside of the concrete form
- A screed vibrator which attaches to a moving screed and vibrated the concrete during screeding
- A table vibrator which is a metal table used for vibrating concrete when it’s poured inside a mould.
Depending on your specific concreting job, these vibrators can be hired for different projects.
3. A Wheelbarrow
Ah, the trusty three-wheeled steed. A wheelbarrow really is a no-brainer piece of equipment for any contractor, no matter the industry really.
Wheelbarrows are often an underestimated tool but can be used to transport small amounts of concrete across site, tools, debris, dirt and more.
They are also useful for carrying concrete samples across site for slump tests and other necessary assessments.
4. A Portable Concrete Mixer
This is a concreting tool that can save you a huge amount of time and energy. Rather than mixing small amounts of concrete by hand to fill in gaps or faults, a concrete mixer does all the dirty work for you.
A concrete mixer is also handy for small pours that don’t warrant a full order of ready-mixed concrete too. It also makes for a more thorough and smoother concrete pour.
5. Rubber Gloves and Boots
These are essential onsite items when working with a material such as concrete. After all, concrete contains potent chemicals that can irritate and damage the skin.
Over time, exposure to concrete on the skin can cause extensive damage as the cement draws out moisture from your skin.
Always make sure to always use rubber gloves and boots which allow you to work with concrete as quickly as possible, without stressing about skin irritation.
6. Vapour Barriers
Vapour barriers, also known as vapour retarders, are an important tool to assist with strengthening the quality of your concrete.
A vapour barrier is placed over the top of poured concrete to prevent moisture from evaporating from the surface, which weakens concrete.
A vapour barrier can also be placed below the concrete surface to prevent water escape or dry base materials from drawing moisture out of the concrete.
7. A Concrete Saw
While you may need a number of different saws on a concreting site, a concrete saw is most important. This will be used to cut control joints while the concrete is setting once it’s been poured.
Standard woods saws, such as a circular saw, demo saws or chop saws are also necessary for cutting wood and metal rebar while onsite.
8. Concrete Floats
A bull float is another important tool that’s used to ensure your concrete surface is as smooth, compact and flat as possible.
A bull float is used to smooth a concrete surface immediately after screeding is complete. The bull float is characterised by a long pole which reaches across the entire width of the concrete form.
Smaller floats are also necessary for filling in voids in the concrete or smoothing edges. These are known as magnesium floats and are usually handheld for reaching smaller, intricate areas.
9. Groove Cutters
Also known as groovers, this tool is used to create control joints on concrete surfaces for walkways, driveways, residential slabs, and pavements. A groove cutter is normally used in place of a concrete cutter.
Concrete groove cutters are characterised by a horizontal plate with a vertical fin attachment. The horizontal plate has rounded edges for shaping the grooves in the concrete.
10. A Laser Level
This is the standard tool used on most concreting sites for levelling concrete forms and determining their elevation.
A laser level is also useful when it comes to checking for the correct height of embedded items such as bolts, rebar, and concrete anchors.
A laser level is extremely accurate and remains 100% true-to-form even over extremely long or wide distances.
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