The voids between the footings are filled with gravel
Pouring the basement floor
Preparing the floor for the power trowler

The Basement Floor

We lost a few days due to rain - it has been unusually wet here this year.

The process of getting the cement slab down came in three steps: Filling up the basement up to the level of the footings with gravel, installing the radiant floor heating, and last, pouring the concrete. I have provided more information about the installation of the radiant floor heating as a sepaerate topic (prior to this one) - although it is actually done between the gravel fill and pouring the cement.

Each of the steps took one day - although the gravel did not actually take an entire day, by the time the gravel was in place it was too late for the plumber to begin the radiant floor installation.

The gravel was "shot" into the basement with a truck, and then raked out to make things even. The gravel provides a good base for drainage below the house, and also fills in the dead space between the footings - if you tried to pour a basement floor without gravel, you would unnecessarily spend a fortune in concrete.

Because of the rain delay we had, Mark (the builder) was very anxious to get things going again as soon as the weather cleared up. He is great at keeping the project moving (it continually amazes me how fast!) and to make up for any lost time. The crew that we initially had hired for pouring the floor was unavailable till early next week, so Mark jumped in, grabbed a few guys he used to employ, and poured the floor himself! (In past years, Mark owned and operated a flatwork business.) Mark and his crew did a beautiful job on the floor, although Mark said he doesn't miss the work much.

We had not planned on using a cement pump truck for the basement floor, but the shape of the lot makes it difficult for cement trucks to get in close. Also, even if the cement trucks were able to get in close enough to pour the concrete in over the edge, Mark was nervous that the weight of the concrete falling into the basement would displace the radiant heat pipes that the plumber had so carefully set.

I think the pump truck helped the guys do a better job, and made the work go faster. Watching them work was fascinating - they make it look so easy. Although I have not done much, I have helped out on enough flatwork projects to know that pouring a level, even and smooth concrete floor requires a lot of skill.

After they finished smoothing the floor with hand tools, they returned a few hours later and put the final (glass-like) finish on the floor with a power trowel.

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