Whether you are installing a new driveway or putting in a sidewalk, one of the most important aspects of any project involving concrete is proper preparation. Knowing exactly how much and what type of concrete you will need is just as important as properly pouring, leveling, and finishing the concrete itself. If you are using ready mix concrete, this means having a solid idea up front about the particular requirements of your project as well as the environment for the pour. These tips will help you to make the right choices early on so that you can avoid headaches once your project is underway.
Know the Concrete's Likely Maximum Load
One of the most important factors you will need to consider is the strength of the concrete. When dealing with concrete mixes, strength refers specifically to the compressive strength of the final material. This is the ability of the final concrete surface to withstand loads which place the concrete into compression, which in general terms means loads pressing down from above on the surface of the concrete. This is a major consideration since concrete is often poured as walkways, driveways, or foundations, all of which must support significant amounts of weight.
When selecting concrete for your project, you will need to work with the ready mix supplier to determine a mix that is right for your specific load needs. In addition to having a good understanding of how the concrete will be used, you should also know whether the concrete will be reinforced with metal bars or meshes. Concrete which will not be reinforced is formulated differently, so your supplier will need this information before delivery.
Be Aware of Environmental Factors
Will this concrete be poured in especially cold weather? Will it be very hot? What are the environmental conditions that the final project is likely to be exposed to? It is important to discuss these factors with your supplier as they will all affect how the final mixture is designed. Additionally, this is an area where deferring to your supplier may be very helpful. Concrete is generally mixed at sites relatively close to the final destination, which means your supplier should be familiar with local environmental conditions. If you have special requirements (such as concrete that will be in a climate-controlled environment), you should discuss these before settling on a final mixture.
Understand that Transportation of Concrete Matters
Ready mix concrete cannot remain in a mixer truck forever. This means that scheduling transportation is a vital part of any job, even more so than with most materials. Be sure to discuss with your supplier the maximum amount of time that the concrete can remain in the truck and what options are available if your job site is particularly far away from the mixing site. Environmental conditions can affect this as well, so delivery margins may be tighter on particularly hot days.