Forms hold newly-poured concrete in place while it dries and hardens. After the concrete has fully dried, the forms are removed to reveal the final product. Understanding proper concrete forming is important if you’re considering a home project, like a walkway or patio. Improper forming can have disastrous consequences on any project. But forming doesn’t have to be intimidating. In fact, with an awareness of rudimentary principles, concrete forming is straightforward and easy to do.
First, it’s important to understand forming is only one of the ingredients in a successfully completed concrete project. The process of successfully completing a project begins with thoughtful planning: laying out the project with string or paint, calculating the slope for runoff, checking with your local municipality for a building permit, calling 811 before you dig and preparing the base material are all critical steps before beginning formwork.
After completing the foundational actions, it’s time to start forming. But don’t get too excited to start pouring concrete and finish your project just yet. Rushing through the process can lead to ill-fated forming and a bad outcome. Like the above preparatory steps, it’s important to understand proper concrete forming and avoid common mistakes, such as the three listed below.
Let’s make one thing clear: concrete is heavy. The job of formwork is to keep the weight of freshly-poured concrete secure until dried. Common formwork materials for home projects include 2x4s or 2x6s—depending on the desired thickness of the finished product. Alone, these materials aren’t strong enough to support the weight of wet concrete. That’s why it’s necessary to support the boards with stakes driven at least eight-inches into the ground every three feet. Securing the form boards to the stakes with screws will keep everything in its place. It’s hard not to overstress the importance of properly supporting formwork. Improperly supported boards can result in wet concrete breaking out of its form onto your lawn, garden or . . . boots.
You’re undoubtedly excited to use your new patio or take a stroll on your new walkway. But removing the forms too early can ruin your new project. Instead, relax a bit. Leave everything alone for at least two days—and maybe longer, depending on the weather. Removing forms before this time can cause the concrete to sag, crack or collapse. But, even after the forms are removed, it’s important to stay off fresh concrete until it has cured. What’s curing? Read all about the importance of curing in our past blog article. For now, it’s important to know the recommended curing time is seven days, as long as the temperature is more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Uneven, wavy and out-of-square forms make for an unsightly final product. Make sure to check the straightness of any board before using it for formwork. Use string lines to keep your boards straight and level—or sloped properly for runoff. Double- or triple-check for square by measuring the distance between corners diagonally. Most important: Don’t rush the process of forming. The extra time, attention and care will ensure you get an aesthetically pleasing final product that will last.
Completing your own concrete project can be invigorating and rewarding. Done correctly, the finished product will provide years of use—whether that’s a patio, sidewalk or pad for a garden shed. With 69 years of experience, Intermountain Concrete Specialties can help with any of your home concrete project needs. From forming products to curing, sealing and protection, or even just answering your questions, we are here to help. Contact a specialist at any one of Intermountain Concrete Specialties’ seven locations today.