Saturday, October 9, 2010

Humbled by Concrete

Here comes the first batch!

Linden tree seeds- some are now embedded.

The very last bit of concrete. We had just enough!

My Dad "floating" the concrete.

Matt workin' the power trowel. Not bad for his 1st time.

I am humbled. I must say, I didn't think it would be that hard to put down a 2" layer of concrete on the plywood main floor. Neither did Matt. We thought it would be 3 hours, max. Well, after a 12 hour day of placing and trowelling concrete, I have a much deeper appreciation of this trade. What a day. Am I ever sore. How do people do this for a living?

Thank goodness we had an extra helpful concrete truck operator who gave us many suggestions and even got in there and showed us how to float, trowel and do stuff. Yay to Rob from Lafarge Concrete!

And a big thanks to my neighbour Ralph, who lives on 103 Avenue that stopped by and provided us further helpful hints as well as a manganese trowel- the proper kind to use when the concrete is still wet. Wow, if it wasn't for kind, intelligent and very helpful people, I think I would be cryin' right now. It really turned out far better with all of the assistance and advice we had from strangers.

Last but not least, we had help from Laura-Lee, my Dad and brother Aly- all who made it easier with moving wheel barrows of concrete around, raking the wet stuff into place and trying their hand with the float tool.

It was a hot day & windy day. Note to self: never pour concrete on hot and windy days, especially near trees that are dropping their leaves!


  1. Another note to self: wear knee pads next time. My right knee is scraped and chaffed beyond belief.

  2. Interesting blog, lots of details. It's information like this that is going help change building practices around here...
    Why did you pour concrete on the main floor? Soundproofing? Solar heat sink?

  3. Hello Dan,
    Thanks for your comment!
    Yes, the main [and second] floor concrete is primarily for a thermal mass/solar heat sink. It is also going to be good for soundproofing our main floor from our secondary suite in the basement! And finally, it provides a very durable exposed finish [after we polish it].

  4. I remember pouring concrete when I was working for dad. I hated it too. Tough work. And we just did a few sidewalks. :)

  5. I didn't hate pouring concrete. In fact, I am actually enjoying the sweat equity I'm putting into this. I was just gob-smacked at how much effort and skill it needed. We totally under-estimated the scope of work, the timing, the necessary coordination required. And now I appreciate concrete finishers far more. And I appreciate the first hand learning experience this crazy house is providing me.

  6. Hi Shafraaz,

    I see you poured your main floor concrete slab at your house.  Great.  I was surprised to see it go in prior to the exterior walls.  That isn’t how we have usually done it around here.  I just had a house pour their main floor on Thursday, too.

    Did you do heating pipes in the floor?  It doesn’t seem like it.  So then it got me thinking, how are you going to heat you place?  Electricity that you can generate?

    Another floor question….did you do any poly below the concrete, or did you go straight onto the plywood?  I have always been careful to put down poly and tape all the seams, but I’ve often wondered what would happen if I went without it.  Did the plywood get too terribly wet?

    Anyway, forge onward.  It is a nice fall for building at the moment.


  7. M~ Thank you for noticing the concrete post!

    We're doing an experiment on putting in the concrete before the walls are up.

    We hoped it would :

    * not require a pumper truck, as the concrete mixer just backed up to the floor in a few areas. [This obviously worked]

    * It would make power troweling easier, as there were no walls to bang into- and it could get the corners of rooms [this in reality was harder than we thought]

    * And we put in the base plates of the walls before pouring concrete- so we didn't have to nail into concrete floors and risk cracking them. [but now we risk the trades dropping stuff on a finished concrete floor and damaging it!]

    I have to say, the finish didn't turn out the way we hoped- it's far rougher than we expected- and it will need to be grinded down/polished. [so it remains to be seen if this was a good idea].

    And no, we didn't put in radiant heat piping in the floor. We considered it, but the cost wasn't going to work in our budget- and I have heard that a thermally isolated slab as a heat sink is fine and won't be too cold- and electric base boards will do the trick nicely to heat our place, along with a wood stove and the passive solar gain.

    We hope to have enough PV on site to balance our energy needs for the year [hence getting to net zero].

    And no, we didn't put poly beneath the concrete before we poured. It didn't appear that the plywood got really wet after the concrete was poured. The plywood was already wet from rains that occured a few days before. Some of which actually curled up at edges.

    Hopefully the snow and cold will hold off for a few more weeks!