How To Form and Pour A Concrete Slab

Amazing! How To Form and Pour A Concrete Slab

Information about How To Form and Pour A Concrete Slab

Phil Puccio

how to pour concrete
how to pour a concrete slab

The tools and materials you will need to shape and pour a concrete slab


  • Ready-mixed concrete (length depends on the panel size)
  • Wire mesh or rebar reinforcement
  • Anchor bolts

If your concrete slab is smaller, you can use concrete sacks or ready mixes instead.

Find out how many bags of concrete it takes to build a garden. I did all the calculations for you.

On my tools page you can find all the tools needed for molding and pouring concrete.

I also have a concrete meter calculator that shows you how many meters you need and how many bags of concrete you need.

Tools for molding and pouring a concrete slab

Step by step: how to pour a concrete slab

These are the basic steps I use to shape and pour concrete slabs.

I also have a step-by-step video course with several training videos that will teach you everything you need to know about laying your own concrete slab: My concrete slab course

Step 1. Prepare the area for concrete

how to pour concrete slab preparation

There should be a compacted gravel pad under your concrete slab. You can also use road paving, gravel, or sand as long as it’s well compacted.

You will likely need to remove some of the existing soil, like in the picture above. We removed about 12 inches of the existing turf and clay and replaced it with 8 “by 3/4” ballast.

This area had a slight incline, so we had to remove more soil on one side than on the other to get a level surface.

After installing the gravel, we just raked it (with my laser level) and ran a vibratory compactor over it to set it down and pack it very hard.

NOTE: You may need permission to install a disk. Contact your local building regulations officer to learn what it takes to build a ceiling. You may also need to keep some distance from your property line.

PRO TIP: If you have a lot of soil to remove, you can rent a skid steer loader to make it a lot easier, or hire an excavation contractor to prepare the area for you.

BE SURE: Some states require you to call Dig Safe (811) to look for underground cables or utilities before you start digging. It’s state law. It’s a free service so be sure.

Step 2. Creating the shapes for a concrete slab

Set your forms. It is better to have shapes that are a little longer than the size of your slab.

Set up your level. I use a self-leveling laser. You can use a 4 ‘level or a transit level. All 3 will do the job.

My panel size is 14 ‘x 10’.

Starting on one side, measure the length of your plate and mark it on the form. (my mark was at 14 ‘on this side)

Mark each side in the same way. (my next page was 10 ‘)

Use these markings to screw the forms together in the next step.

how to pour concrete slab
how to make a concrete slab

step 3. shape together and square the plate

Use your markings to screw the shapes together.

Align the inside of the form with your pencil mark.

You can a. use Drill driver and deck screws like we do, or you can use a hammer and nails to secure the formwork together.

Personally, I like to use screws because there is less movement of the shapes as there is no hammering on them.

Screws are also easier to take out when you remove the forms.

After the forms are put together, it’s time to square the plate.

I measure diagonally in each direction and slide the shapes a little in one direction or the other until I get exactly the same measurement for both diagonal measurements.

It usually takes a couple of times back and forth to get it right.

When you have the plate square you can stake it out.

step 4. stake out the forms and put them on grade

Use wooden pegs (or metal pins like me) to secure the shapes.

I like every corner, about 8-12 inches from the corner, on either side.

After my 4 corners have been marked out, I drive a stake in about every 4 ‘on all sides.

To make sure the forms are straight, I use string over the forms to check as I stake out the forms.

After doing all the inserts I use my laser level to line up all of the shapes perfectly.

The recipient on my graduation stick has a solid “beep” when the form is at the predetermined height. (5 “above my dirt level)

Screw the form to the stake when it is at the desired level.

Repeat for all 4 corners then make the rest of the stakes and your shapes will be level.

Step 5. Add the reinforcement

Wire mesh for a concrete slab

It’s time to install the rebar, I’m using wire mesh for this slab. Wire mesh is best cut with a pair Bolt cutters.

I buy the flat mesh panels, they measure 5 ‘x 10’. Some local timber companies keep the flat wire in stock. If not they usually have the mesh rolls (5 ‘x 150’ which are also available from HD and Lowe)

Another good rebar for concrete slabs is 3/8 (# 3) rebar or 1/2 “(# 4) rebar. Rebar comes in 10 ‘or 20’ lengths and you cut them to the length you want.

Install rebar in 2 ‘or 3’ grids and tie them together with cable ties or a Wire twisting tool and cable ties.

If you are using rebar and need to cut it, you can hire a rebar cutter from HD or a local tool rental company. Or you can buy a commodity Reinforcing steel cutter / bender on amazon.

10x10 concrete slab

After the wire mesh is in place, you can pour the concrete. If you are using ready-mix concrete, choose a nice, dry day and call your local concrete supplier to help plan the pouring process.

Most likely, you’ll need to notify them about a week in advance, so don’t wait until the last minute to call.

If you are using concrete sacks, use my concrete mileage calculator to see how many sacks you will need.

Here’s how to mix concrete by hand.

step 6. how to pour the concrete

how to pour concrete for a slab

When the concrete arrives, ask the mixer operator for a 6-inch break-in. Slump is how dry or wet the concrete is mixed. A 6 drop is a well workable mix for pouring.

Start pulling the concrete around and filling out the forms. Pull the wire mesh or rebar into the concrete as it is poured. (or you can put small bricks underneath to hold them in place)

Pour out as much as you want (maybe about half for something like this if you’re a beginner) before leveling the screed.

how to pour concrete

If you mix bagged concrete for your slab, it’s the same process. Just slower.

Mix enough concrete until you have filled enough of the forms to screed the concrete.

I like to use ready-made mixes myself. It’s just quicker and more convenient for me because we do several such castings in one day. Either way is good. Ready mixes are more expensive for smaller plates than for bag mixes.

See how many concrete sacks are on a pallet and what they cost.

how to pour concrete

Screed the concrete level with a Magnesium screed panel like us or a straight 2 x 4. Use short pulling movements and tilt the screed slightly at the rear edge.

Apply pressure to the plank as you pull to ensure that it rests on the formwork. Have your helpers push concrete (to fill in low spots) and pull back concrete (if it’s high) when screeding is in progress.

the Concrete rake (kumalongs) We’re making moving the concrete a lot easier.

how to swim concrete

After screeding the concrete, use a Bull hover to smooth the surface.

A bull swimmer presses the aggregate down on the surface and applies some cement paste (cream).

Fold up the front edge and slowly slide it from side to side. When you reach the opposite side, stop, tilt the back edge up, and slowly pull it back toward you.

It may take multiple passes in the same spot to get it nice and smooth (usually 1-3 times).

After you’ve created the entire slab this way, you are almost done pouring.

Step 7.Install anchor bolts in concrete (optional)

how to install anchor bolts in a plate

If you use Anchor bolts, now it is time to flesh it out. Measure out where you want them and make a mark in the concrete.

Push the anchor bolt into the concrete to the desired height. I usually leave about 2 inches sticking out of the concrete.

PRO TIP: Once you’ve pushed it a few inches into the concrete, gently shake it up and down to set the concrete around the stud as you adjust it to your finished level.

You are now done pouring the concrete.

Learn how to pour and finish concrete in my private training academy The concrete base.

Watch and I’ll show you how to pour a concrete slab

If you’re thinking of finishing the concrete with a broom, smooth trowel, or a textured finish, I can show you HERE how to finish the concrete.

Another very important step is the “hardening” of the concrete. Click on CONCRETE SEALER to experience this.

You can remove the forms the next day.

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