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What Is Concrete Flatwork?

Concrete is one of the most popular construction materials in the world. It’s been used for centuries to build everything from residential homes and buildings to large-scale structures like bridges and dams. Even decorative items like cast fireplace surround, planters, and countertops are made out of concrete. It’s extremely strong, easy to work with, versatile, and fairly cheap. When concrete is poured on a horizontal plane to create a flat smooth surface such as a patio, sidewalk, floor, or driveway, it’s called flatwork. It may seem simple, but there’s a lot more to building flat structures than just pouring the concrete.

Excavation, pouring a strong base, compaction, constructing forms, and forming rebar or wire mesh are all important parts of concrete flatwork. And so is making the concrete. If you don’t buy it from a concrete truck or in pre-mixed bags like Quikrete, you’ll have to make it yourself. Luckily it’s not that hard to do.

Pouring concrete and eventually troweling it are the last steps of a flatwork job. First, the ground must be excavated. Then a base material is poured and compacted. Next, forms are built and set in place. Finally, rebar or wire mesh is cut and tied together to form a skeleton for the concrete. Typically the preparation takes longer than the actual concrete work.

The last step is pouring the concrete into forms and working it until the surface is flat and smooth. Floats, trowels, sponges, brooms and edgers are all common tools used to shape and finish concrete. Flat work can be done inside and outside of the home. In the end, you’ll hopefully have a beautiful sidewalk, driveway, patio, road, or floor to walk on. Which are all great examples of concrete flatwork.