Even though the words are often used interchangeably, concrete and cement are not the same thing. Portland cement is the ingredient in concrete that bonds with stone and sand to give it hardness and strength.
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Before you start to work with concrete, you should sketch your project and run it by your local building department to check code requirements.
Mix your own concrete using the rule of sixes. Use 6 bags of mix for every cubic yard of concrete. Use 6 gallons of water for every bag of mix.
Pour concrete continuously and to the top of your formwork to avoid layering, which weakens the pour. Finish the surface as you go with a length of 2×4, striking it off at the right level and screeding it flat. Use a float to bring the excess water to the top and finish with a steel trowel for a smooth surface, or use a broom when it’s partially cured for a slip-resistant finish.
Add expansion joints to avoid cracking and allow it to cure at least 6 days while keeping it moist.
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