Dr Bill Price, Tarmac, National Commercial Technical Manager, gives some concrete advice.
Most builders are more than adept at the art of using cement, however even the most experienced builder can come unstuck by falling prey to a common mishap.
What’s more, many experienced builders will also be teaching their skills to younger builders who are new to the trade. It is imperative that these builders gain an understanding of how to avoid everyday cement and concrete blunders.
Well surprisingly (or not as the case may be), simply reading the information on the packaging can go a long way towards preventing problems. Cement packaging has information about how best to use the product in the field, often with helpful pictograms.
Checking these every now and again can be a good way of refreshing your understanding of cement and how its best used. Younger builders should read the packaging before using a product for the first time, whilst they can also look to the manufacturer’s product datasheets and safety datasheets for advice.
A common problem with concrete is that it is not batched properly.
Too many builders look to batch ‘by the shovel’ which can lead to weak materials that do not hold-up in the long term. Correct batching and mixing is the key to producing a successful mortar or concrete. This involves using buckets or batch boxes to measure out quantities of the constituent materials.
Finally, cement sets and hardens by reacting with water and not by ‘drying out’ – anyone who has told you otherwise is wrong. It is exceptionally important to prevent excessive loss of water from freshly placed mortar, render, screed or concrete. This is a process called ‘curing’.
Curing is crucial to a successful application. Get it wrong and there is a risk of cracking, crumbling and poor long term durability. To cure effectively, just cover the work with polythene sheeting for at least three days.
Follow these steps and you’ll be well set to avoid the most common and annoying cement mishaps.