How to Finish Concrete Despite Challenging Mixes or Weather 

Learn how to increase the workability of specialty concrete mixes and deal with surprise weather on the job. 

Finishing 1

A quality concrete mix and smooth installation process is key to creating a beautiful, long-lasting concrete surface. Unfortunately, sometimes the window of workability is limited during the mixing, installation, and concrete finishing process. Here, we’ll cover how to identify a challenging or overengineered mix and how to use Brickform’s DAY1 to make these mixes easier to work with, even in bad weather conditions.  

Understanding and Identifying Highly Engineered Mixes

High-performance mixes typically have lower slump than standard residential mix designs. This can lead to more difficult finishing conditions especially in adverse weather. 

So how can you detect a challenging mix before you start finishing? Here are some options: 

We recommend staying current on information from American Society of Concrete Contractors (ASCC) who reports on mixes such as ASTM C 595 Portland-limestone cement Type1L. Contractors were finding that using Type 1L Cement was resulting in increased water demand, slow set time (a need for adding accelerator admixtures), low strength, crusting on top of the surface, more shrinkage cracks, and more labor required to finish. See ASCC’s report on Type1L here.

Adjusting Finishing Techniques for Specialty Mixes 

“Contractors are relying on admixtures more and more–accelerators, retarders, superplasticizers, you name it,” says Brickform’s Antonio Thomas. “Everything in the mix is there for a purpose. Stronger, more durable concrete that sets within 3 hours is awesome for construction, but more demanding from finishers. If you’re not ready, the concrete doesn’t care. You need more time to control the mix.” If you know the mix you’re working with is overengineered before you pour it, you can be prepared with the right finishing plan and products.

Brickform has a solution for that, answering the question of how to increase the workability of a mix on-site. When you apply Brickform’s DAY1 Finishing Aid during the floating and troweling stages, it increases the time you have to work on your slab. In fact, “with DAY1, you can get 15 to 30 minutes of additional working time,” says Thomas. “It makes finishing possible, even with some of the more challenging mix designs.”  

DAY1 lubricates the surface, increases cream, and enhances workability without compromising strength or causing shrinkage cracking. Ultimately, it becomes part of the concrete slab so you don’t need to remove a membrane or residue when you’re done. 

Many contractors rely on DAY1 for finishing Type 1L Cement, DOT concrete mix, and others. NSF Certifications ensure it’s even able to be used in water treatment facilities and other specialized applications.

Using DAY1

At Brickform, we invest in continued testing to make sure we’re always offering the best version of a product possible. You can view our test data for DAY1, which documents the following results of concrete treated with DAY1 versus standard concrete: 

  • Salt surface scaling 
  • Freeze
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Resistance of concrete to chloride ion penetration 
  • Production of ASR GEl coronas and pop-outs 

We continue to find that DAY1 not only aids in the finishing process, but also in the overall quality of the concrete slab.

Dealing with Challenging Weather Conditions 

Even if you have the perfect concrete mix, factors out of your control can affect your finishing process. Of course, the best way to prevent weather from interfering with your finishing job is to keep an eye on the forecast. However, sometimes unexpected weather changes happen. 

Fortunately, DAY1 can extend workability when you’re faced with the following weather events that can speed up the drying time: 

  • Excessive heat. 
  • High winds. 
  • Low humidity. 

Here are additional steps you can take during hot, windy, and dry days: 

  • Reference ACI Standards for finishing and placing concrete.
  • Schedule jobs wisely. If possible, schedule your concrete pour for early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid doing it during the peak heat of the day. 
  • Protect your surface. Using canopies or temporary shelters, shade your surface to reduce the risk of your concrete drying out or setting too early. On windy days, construct barriers to prevent debris from landing on your surface. 
  • Pre-wet your substrate to prevent premature moisture loss. 

We’ve heard many testimonies from customers who share stories about how DAY1 has saved their slabs. One contractor in particular shared that while working on a patio for a high-end home, bad weather came in after they’d already poured the concrete. The crew covered the slab and had to leave the project site for the day. When they returned the next morning, deer had run across the patio and left their hoof marks. The contractor pulled a sample of DAY1 out of his truck and used it to rework and finish the slab. It’s this testimony plus many more that prove DAY1 is an invaluable product to keep on hand.

Specialized Equipment and Tools 

In addition to using DAY1, making use of specialized equipment and tools will help during the finishing process. Here are some tools we highly recommend to those who are wondering how to finish a concrete slab efficiently:

G3 MagVibe Pro™

This vibrating bull float is yet another tool that makes the step of floating the concrete during your finishing job more efficient.

Batt Screed from Curb Roller

This battery-powered concrete roller screed doesn’t require hoses or cords. Its mobility and precision helps contractors finish their jobs efficiently. Contractors also love that it doesn’t emit fumes. 

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