Concrete is the most commonly used material for basement floors because it is cheap, durable, easy to work with, and versatile. Smooth concrete can easily be covered with a floor of your choice, resembling marble, stone, or even painted. Pouring your concrete floor in your basement is relatively easy, but it does require planning and attention to detail. In addition, it’s best to pour the concrete at temperatures between 50 F and 70 F to allow it to cure properly.
Definition of Concrete
The words “cement” and “concrete” are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Portland cement is one of the three components of concrete. According to Concrete Network, the other two components are water and aggregate made from sand and gravel. The finer the aggregate, the smoother the final product. The best aggregate size for a concrete basement floor is 1 inch or less.
Before pouring concrete:
- Make sure the floor is level.
- Level the floor by removing any stones larger than a golf ball.
- Measure the width of the basement and then the length.
- Multiply these two numbers to get the total area of the basement.
You will need enough sand to cover the floor with a layer 10-15 cm thick. Sprinkle the sand into large piles scattered throughout the basement. Distribute the sand evenly over the dirt floor with a rake. To finish the job, start at the point farthest from the door and smooth out the sand with a trowel. Use a long carpenter’s level to ensure the sand is level as you approach the door.
Cement is sold by square meter, so you’ll have to count the amount you need. One cubic meter of cement should pour an 80-square-foot floor 4 inches thick. Add at least 1/4 square meters to the total to ensure you have enough concrete before pouring the floor. The more water you add to the cement and aggregate, the thinner and looser the concrete. The best ratio for pouring a basement floor is 6 gallons of water for every cubic foot of cement. Put the dry ingredients in a wheelbarrow and make a hole in the center, like pie dough. Add water and mix the mixture well with a shovel, Family Handyman advises. Once the concrete is mixed, it should be poured for two to three hours, or it will become too hard to work with.
Start at the point farthest from the basement door and put the wet concrete on top of the sand. Smooth it with a shovel, then go over it with a two-by-four board pressed flush with the ground. It is helpful to have one person knead new portions of concrete while one or two others level it. When the floor is completely covered, go over the concrete slab one more time with a trowel or concrete trowel to smooth out the top layer. When the concrete is smooth, wet it down with a thin stream of water. Allow the concrete to harden, keeping it moist for at least three days.
What you will need
- Carpenter’s level
- Trowel or concrete block
CAN I POUR CONCRETE DIRECTLY ON THE GROUND?
Yes, it is possible to pour concrete directly on the ground. If the foundation soil is “dry” and has no moisture problems, pouring concrete directly on the floor is possible.
It is good practice to install an underground drainage system when laying the gravel foundation. Drainage pipes will help remove water that will seep under the slab in the future.
If you are concerned about water vapor rising through the concrete floor and damaging the screed or epoxy coating, pouring concrete directly onto the ground is not advisable.
Use a polyethylene vapor barrier 6, 10, or 15 mm below the floor, where moisture can cause problems later.
HOW THICK SHOULD A CONCRETE FLOOR BE?
A residential concrete floor is typically 4 inches thick. Four inches of concrete mix at 3,000 psi, placed on a well-compacted gravel base, is strong enough to support cars and trucks.
We recommend a concrete mix at 4,000 psi and a concrete floor 6 or 8 inches thick if you plan to use the concrete floor for heavier equipment or commercial vehicles.