Concrete Finishing: Practical Guidelines on Trowelling Your Surface

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Trowelling is an ideal finishing technique for concrete surfaces with large slabs and pavements. When the process is performed correctly, it will leave a smooth and dense surface. In simple terms, the floor will be aesthetically appealing and highly durable. If you are interested in this type of finishing technique, you should hire an experienced contractor and learn more about concrete trowels. However, you can also perform DIY work if you have the right supplies. Here are some basic, practical guidelines to help you get started on your trowelling project.

Choose the Right Machine

Trowelling can be performed by hand or machine. However, unless the surface is tiny, the former option is not favourable. Trowel equipment will allow you to finish the work fast and efficiently, and the quality of your work will be better than the alternative. For most projects, a pushable trowel will be adequate. There are also riding tools, but they are not necessary for DIY work. When choosing your machine, you should look for both float and finish blades to match the trowel. Alternatively, you can select combined blades.

Test the Surface

You should test the concrete before beginning to trowel the surface. The timing is vital in creating a clean finish with good density. In most cases, you will need to wait for some hours after pouring the concrete before starting the trowelling process. Ideally, the pavement should be somewhat dry and firm enough to support your weight. However, the top layer should be soft enough to leave a shallow footprint when you step on it. 

Float the Concrete

When the concrete is ready, you can begin by floating the surface. For this process, you will need your trowelling machine and the float blades. You can also use the combined blades. The trowel will allow you to smooth out the concrete and eliminate the bumps, hollows and uneven surfaces. When floating your surface, you should keep the blades flat such that they do not dig into the malleable concrete. Also, once you cover the entire slab, repeat the process perpendicularly in case there are still rough spots. 

Finish the Surface

If you had fitted your trowel with float blades, you should replace them with the finish blades. Alternatively, you can keep using your combined blades. Run the machine at full speed during this stage and use the same perpendicular method as in the floating step. Also, you should utilise more pressure to seal the concrete and reduce porosity. Repeat the finishing process until you achieve the desired gloss or matte appearance.