Guide to Concrete and Compaction Equipment

Whether you are adding an extension or garage to your home, a new conservatory or a garden shed, they all have something in common. They need to be constructed on a good solid foundation. The greater the weight the base has to bear; the stronger it needs to be if future problems are to be averted. Just digging a hole, and filling it with 6” of concrete, is not the way to go.

Preparation is all about compaction

Whether laying down a base for a conservatory, preparing a brick-paved drive, or prepping a garden pathway, the common denominator is compaction. Compaction is not just about concrete compaction.    For the strongest of bases, compaction should be undertaken at every stage of the job.

Even if your base isn’t designed to be load-bearing, correct preparation will provide more years of effective use. Don’t just dig out your shape and fill with concrete. Instead, hire some concrete compaction equipment. Trench rammers or compaction plates, either petrol or diesel powered, and which vibrate, are ideal for tamping down that loose soil to form a good solid substrate before pouring your concrete. See PSM Hire for their range of concrete compaction equipment, sizes and widths.

If the base is to be load bearing, such as for a conservatory or vehicle hardstanding, use a vibrator or ram to tamp down the soil. Once the soil is compacted, the hard-core can be added. Again, using your concrete compaction equipment, you can level the hard-core or ballast, as well as turning it into a good solid bed for your concrete.

Concrete compaction equipment

Vibrating plates are the best option for ensuring loose soil, rubble, or other fillings are fully compacted before concrete pouring. However, once that is completed, the concrete itself needs to be compacted. Whether your concrete is mixed by hand, petrol mixer, or delivered ready mixed, the continuous turning and mixing of cement, sand, and water, also adds in large amounts of air. PSM Hire has a number of different concrete compaction machines available, to make sure your concrete is as dense as required.

To release this air, a range of specialised equipment is available to drive as much air as possible out of the mix, ensuring maximum compaction of the concrete, and hence maximum density and strength to your base.

Concrete compaction methods

The type of concrete compaction equipment you will need, will depend very much on the size of concrete base you want to lay. For instance, if you are constructing a multi-vehicle parking area or the base for a new warehouse, then PSM Hire has a selection of pedestrian or ride-on vibrating roller machines available for tackling the largest of jobs.

Although the vibrating compaction plates we’ve already mentioned are perfectly suitable to compact small to medium bases, vibrating pokers and vibrating concrete screed units are also popular options. These pokers are pushed into various areas of your levelled base, and drive the excess air out and obtain maximum compaction using high vibration. The pokers are slowly drawn out to allow as much air as possible to escape, and the action repeated every few feet until the whole base area has been compacted. If you want to level and compact at the same time, a concrete screed unit will do the job. Vibrating to compact the base as it is levelled.

Concrete finishing accessories

Once your base has been levelled and compacted to ensure maximum strength, the finish has to be considered. If your concrete base is to be used for car parking or a pathway, you may want a non-slip finish. In the old days this was often achieved by two men using the edge of a scaffold board, to tamp the still wet concrete along its length. This left small ridges in the concrete which then hardened as the base dried out. Nowadays, purpose built tampers are available in various lengths, to make the job that little bit easier.

If a smooth finish is required for a garage or conservatory floor, a range of floats are available. Used in the same way as a plasterer’s small hand float to smooth out the finish on rendered or plastered walls and ceilings, concrete floats are a larger version with longer, often extendable handles, to reach all areas of your concrete base. The finish achieved is then smooth enough for the base to be sealed and painted over for a smooth gloss type finish.

Whatever equipment you need for your planned concrete base, PSM Hire have over 30 years experience in supplying top quality, reliable compaction and concrete finishing tools, to both the trade and general public.