Good concrete always starts with a good base. You can place all the gravel you want, but if you do not have a well compacted and stable sub-grade, then your concrete is doomed to fail. In every project that we work on, we remove any unsuitable materials such as organics and topsoil. If new material is needed, we bring in clean engineered fill materials that are of a low to medium plastic grade. Before any gravel is placed, a sheep foot packer is run over the subgrade multiple times to ensure optimum density and firmness.
Once there is a good base to work on, gravel is placed, watered, and compacted in thicknesses of no greater than 6” at a time. This sequence is of great importance. Reaching optimum density in the gravel allows for the maximum amount of “rock on rock” contact to disperse the downward force exerted on the concrete.
Steel reinforcement is added if required. If there is any scenario where you believe there will be any lateral or tensile forces being applied to your concrete than steel reinforcement will be required. Be aware that concrete has very little tensile strength. If you are unsure, there is never a negative effect to adding more steel.
Placing and finishing concrete is the real finesse work on concrete construction. A simple troweled or broom finish can take some practice, but specialized concrete finishes are where a real professional is worth their pay and can create that “wow” factor. Some forms of specialized finishes are exposed aggregates, polished finish, colored concrete, concrete overlays, and stamped concrete.