Things We Learned From Our First Concrete Projects

Whether you’ve just moved into your first home, or you’ve been settled in your forever home for years, you probably have a list of home improvement projects you’d like to tackle. Chances are there’s at least one concrete project on your to do list, whether it’s an aesthetic home improvement such as decorative concrete countertops in the kitchen, building an outdoor kitchen, or applying a decorative concrete finish to your floor, or a more utilitarian application such as pouring a new concrete RV pad or repairing a cracked backyard patio slab.

Even the most experienced DIYer can be overwhelmed at tackling their first concrete project, so we asked some of Intermountain Concrete’s most experienced employees what they learned from their first concrete project. From doing your research to making sure you have enough materials, time and help to complete the job, here’s what our experts had to say:

Preparation is Key
With more than 40 years experience in the concrete industry, Intermountain Concrete Specialties President Tony Frazier says that the first key to a successful concrete job is doing your homework. “More preparation is always better than hurrying to finish,” he says. “Make sure you have enough materials to complete the project, and allow enough time to complete your project before dark.” It’s also important to make sure the temperature is right for your concrete job application. Testing a sample area first can help you determine whether conditions and materials are right for the job.

Tony notes that his best tips are usually the results of his own trial and error! “For everything I have learned, I probably had several failures because I didn’t follow my own learned lesson,” he says. “My latest was staining a new addition to my patio. Instead of testing a sample area to see if the color matched the stain I had applied three years earlier, I pushed through and the color doesn’t match at all!” Tony says. “I’ve also run short on one of my concrete pours.” He’s learned over the years that planning helps, and so does sharing your failures and successes with others. It never hurts to ask for advice!

concrete project tips

Do It Right From the Start
Idaho Falls Store Manager Gary Dumont says one of the first things he learned about working with concrete is that you’ll need more help than you think. “Try to get one or two people on your crew that have experience doing the work you are doing,” he says, “such as flatwork, walls, footing, etc.” He also offers these tips for a variety of concrete projects: 

  • Brace your forms well. It is much better to be over-braced than under-braced.
  • Double-check your formwork for bracing, level, plumb. size, reinforcing, etc. the day before you order concrete.
  • Use compacted gravel under any concrete work and provide for water drainage where necessary.
  • Tell your concrete dispatcher what type of concrete you are pouring so he can use the proper mix design for your application.
  • Don’t skimp on the PSI of the concrete you order.

Ask for Help
“The first thing I learned is to have enough help and equipment to do the job, “says Kelly J. Harman, Vice President of Sales at Intermountain Concrete Specialties’ Salt Lake City location. “Concrete can get away from you if you don’t have enough help on the job.” He notes that all the effort you put in to have a beautiful, durable job that you will want to enjoy for years and show your friends will be of little value if you don’t have the right tools to get the look you want. “Your local ICS store can help you with the right tools and equipment,” says Gary, “but you’re on your own to make friends!” he jests.

Come See Us
While we can’t supply you with the crew, Intermountain Concrete Specialties does have the tools, materials, equipment and know-how you need. Visit any of our six locations and we’ll get you started on the concrete road to success!