Getting ready to start your concrete slab project can be a real challenge. Making the transition from concrete flooring to an engineered slab, combined with a little maintenance and architectural skills, can make the entire process even more enjoyable.
Concrete floors are either cement-lined or non-cement-lined. The difference is an engineered slab is made up of “slabs,” which are similar to pool decks, and “grips,” which are panels that hang down from the wall. Gravel is compacted under pressure into small particles and the material is then poured, or pushed, into the footing. Once the footing is in place, the grips are installed and permanently anchored.
Concrete floors are not unlike traditional patios, except the concrete slabs take up more space. Since it is harder to install a large structure like a slab in an area of limited space, the engineered slab is usually used for smaller structures or areas of easy access.
It is important to measure the area you want to cover before you begin building because there are four corners at which you will cut the initial concrete slabs. These corners should fit into holes drilled in the walls and the foundation. The thickness of the concrete will vary from one corner to the next, and in some cases, as well.
There are two kinds of concrete underlayment that are used: epoxy and vinyl. Epoxy is slightly thicker and has a smoother surface. It is also more resistant to chemicals and makes for an easier installation process.
Install the slabs first, and then fill them with water. Don’t overfill because if you do, you will likely have a difficult time re-mixing the concrete after pouring it. Before pouring the concrete, remove the wall backing, if you have one, and clean it with steel wool. Allow the concrete to set in place and remove the backing completely.
After you have poured the concrete, you may need to fill it with water. Pour the water at least three inches below the concrete and apply a coating to the base with wood, wire, or vinyl board.
Before you add any epoxy, prime the surface. This allows the epoxy to adhere to the concrete more easily.
If you are using epoxy as a coating, be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions. Some epoxies are porous, so you may need to re-prime the surface before the epoxy begins to dry.
Make sure that the top layer of the epoxy is completely dry before you apply the base. The pre-fill the epoxy all the way to the top of the concrete so that there is no pooling or anything else blocking the top layer of the epoxy.
Once the epoxy has dried, you can sand the surface and apply a coat of paint to complete the look. Add insulation to help reduce heat loss.