Laying concrete requires quite a few different tools. Since they are all important tools, they are listed in the order in which they are used in the process.
Mixers are probably the most important tool for laying concrete. Concrete that is mixed well has fewer air bubbles, is very durable, and has maximum strength.
You will need a bucket on hand to add water to your concrete when necessary. It needs to stay wet.
Wheelbarrows are great to put smaller, workable amounts of concrete into to take around the work site.
Rubber boots are waterproof so your feet stay dry, and they can be cleaned. Concrete just ruins the material of standard work boots.
Wearing gloves will help protect your hands from acidic compounds contained in concrete that can harm your skin.
A compactor is used to help stones settle into position whenever a sub-base is required before laying concrete.
Most straight edge tools are made of either aluminum or magnesium because these materials don’t rust, warp, or bow, and they are lightweight. This tool is used to ensure that the concrete surface is even and level all over.
A piece of two-by-four wood can be used as a straight edge in a pinch. It isn’t very dependable, though, because wood can warp. Concrete also sticks to it and doesn’t wipe off, so it gets gunked up quickly.
A tape measure is used to make sure the slab depth that is being poured is consistent. A good rule of thumb is to measure twice and pour once.
Vapor barriers are laid under the concrete to keep water vapor from seeping up into it once it is finished.
A saw of some kind will be needed to cut rebar down to the proper size.
The shovel is used to distribute the concrete from the wheelbarrow to your work area.
Concrete rakes are used to begin the process of spreading the concrete out. Concrete rakes are different than garden rakes in that the blades are scooped to move the thick concrete around easily. This tool also has a blade on the back to help lift rebar or mesh into the right position before you begin to pour concrete.
Tampers are used to push the coarse concrete underneath the surface. They also help the concrete to consolidate. Tampers should only be used on low slump concrete. High slump concrete will settle on its own. If a tamper is used on high slump, the concrete can separate.
Vibrators are used on freshly poured concrete to force out any air bubbles that may weaken it.
A bull float is a wide-bladed tool with a long handle that is used for the first pass of leveling after the screed work is done.
Magnesium floats are smaller tools with shorter handles. They are typically used on the edges of the slab that you’re working on, or for finishing work.
A finishing trowel is the final step in leveling. It is similar to a hand float, but the blade is thinner.
A fresno is a long extension handle that allows concrete workers to work from the side of the slab, instead of needing to walk on it.
Kneeling boards are used to support one’s weight on wet concrete when troweling. You should also consider knee pads.
Groove cutters are used to cut grooves into wet concrete to help prevent cracking or excess shrinkage of the concrete when it is drying.
Curing compound is applied directly on top of wet concrete. It helps concrete to set and reduces the risk of cracks.
Edgers are used to round the edges of concrete slabs, giving them a smooth finish.
This list will help anyone who wants to become a concrete worker, or the do-it-yourselfer, to get started. It by no means exhausts the list of tools that can be added as you progress in your career, but it is a good place to start.
We also recently published a list of the must-haves for any masonry worker here.
Header image credit: Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson, Defense Logistics Agency
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!