We recently contacted Overall Concrete Contractors to settle an ongoing discussion about how to cure concrete. They were gracious enough to respond:
"Concrete begins to cure after just a few hours (slower in cold weather and faster in summer), after which it should not be disturbed. In fact, after reaching its initial curing stage, concrete will not chemically bond to newly poured concrete adjacent to it. After about eight hours, concrete reaches its "final set stage".
Because concrete is a quick-drying material, the actual pouring of concrete is a chaotic, frenetic and sloppy process no matter the foundation type in question. This is one thing all concrete contractors can agree on. It lasts perhaps an hour, and includes tamping and vibrating the wet concrete to fill an voids and even its content throughout the forms. Finishing chores, such as smoothing the slab, cutting control joints and setting anchor bolts, occurs for a few hours at most after the pour."
Contractor lingo used in this article:
tamping and vibrating - the manual and/or mechanical process of removing air pockets from poured concrete.
control joints - in the concrete slab, strategically placed grooves to which cracks in the surface will gravitate, maintaining structural integrity and appearance. Also called a contraction joint.
We contacted Advanced Paving Company and 911 Christmas Light Installation (both in the North Dallas area) to assist us with common questions and concerns about laying new foundations. Both companies were happy to share some unique insights into the process.
"Slab foundations are common in areas of expansive soil, where a high clay content causes problems with settling and inadequate sub-surface drainage; they also became popular once technology evolved away from coal-fired furnaces to smaller electric and natural gas equipment. This essentially eliminated the need for a basement. And with the three car garages and walk-in-closets of today's housing, a musty, damp basement seems inadequate for storage of anything. Slabs also are easier, faster, and cheaper to build than full basements, requiring a day or less to form and prepare for concrete paving once excavation has been completed. Most affordable or first-time buyer homes are on slabs to lessen construction costs and thus the price of the finished house. They require less excavation and formwork and are often poured at the same time as their footings to create a monolithic structure.
Slab foundations rest on a bed of washed gravel to facilitate drainage under the slab and occasionally contain pipes or conduits for various utilities that will be set within the concrete. Measuring between six and eight inches thick, slabs also are often reinforced with rebar along the perimeter and a thick wire mesh across the breadth. All slabs are finished with control joints. These are man-made grooves along the surface of the slab to attract and regulate cracking that will occur during the curing process."
Our friend Chase at DFW Appliance Repairs of Ft. Worth, TX recently wrote in with some small appliance repair tips and ideas for new home builders we thought we would share. Since every homeowners obviously has appliances that occasionally go bad, this is a handy reference list to have around.
"Perhaps the best approach to establishing an identity on the building site is to lead by example, own up to responsibilities and meet people half-way. The best builders and appliance repair experts know what you're feeling, your anxieties, ignorance and inexperience. They are well aware of their competition and your ability to select another builder. So they can bend to allow you to make decisions with regard to the exterior appearance of your new home, the appliance packages, the lighting, the cabinets, the plumbing fixtures and so on. Some even allow you to move walls, alter staircases or adjust ceiling height as needed.
With these choices comes responsibility on your part. Builders don't arbitrarily set cut-off dates for certain decisions, such as the color and type of carpeting. Rather, dates are set to accommodate lead time for delivery or the availability of an installer all in an effort to get the job done on time, or at least in a timely manner. It's best to go with new appliances from top brands like Maytag whenever possible to ensure you get a quality product that will last and not require as much maintenance and repair during your time in the home."
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