Final, Big Cement Pour in the Basement

After a very busy week involving us getting 45 bags of cement, setting up a new support beam, and cutting/prepping the pit… the big day finally arrived. Our final basement pour, which will give us a whole, solid floor again. Something we haven’t had in quite some time.

Liz, filling up some water to get things underway. We had a good system in place, when we did a big cement pour in the back basement – with Liz and I handling the concrete mixing, and Bob tamping and leveling the cement.

Though we had PermaSeal come last year, we opted to handle the cement pour ourselves. In order to avoid invalidating the warranty, we had to have someone from PermaSeal come and observe us during the process.

We met Manny around 8:30 AM, and he gave us a quick overview of the things we needed to avoid. Nothing crazy or out of the ordinary. And he also suggested we start around the perimeter, before working our way inwards from the walls.

Here he is, helping with the cement. A few things worth noting:

1) I didn’t get a ton of photos, as once we started… we tried to keep things moving along.

2) Manny was awesome, and an incredible help. Though he was officially with us as an observer, he opted to pitch in and helped us immensely. Things shifted slowly to where he was grabbing buckets of mixed cement, and walking them over to the pit and dumping them where they needed to go.

I cannot emphasize how much this helped, as I was getting pretty slow. Had we not had Manny’s help, I think the whole process would have taken at least an hour longer than it did.

Liz manning the mixer, while Bob smoothes things out.

When we first started, Liz and I were very hesitant and ginger. We’d start the mixer, throw in a bag, mix a while. Then turned off the mixer. Then added another bag.

And then we also turned off the mixer as we carefully dumped the cement out into each bucket.

On Bob’s advice, we kept the mixer going nonstop – adding water, adding bags, and dumping out cement all the while. This caused a lot of cement to get dumped onto the floor, but it allowed us to keep a certain rhythm and pace going – and helped immensely. Once we got going, we were moving at a decent clip. I shudder to think how long it would have taken, had we kept our original process of starting/stopping the mixer with each bag.

The first half of the pit, filled up!

Here’s a view of the bags we used, and also how much cement dust was in the air. Note that this is about half of what we had – about 27 bags, with another 27 more waiting for us in the back basement.

A little later, and a little cleaner.

Liz, working the cement mixer after relocating to the back area.

The stack of cement in back.

Here’s a bit of video, showing what the process looked (and sounded) like:

Closing in, the final stretch.

A small space left.

A view of where we started.

The support columns.

Close to done…

In between mixes, Liz tidied things up, and put all the cement bags away.

The back stack. We ended up having about 3 bags left, which worked out well for us – and roughly matched our estimates.

We remeasured the area we were working with, and Liz went a little larger, estimating that we needed about 62 bags. We had purchased 45, had 5 bags from a prior pour, and ended up going on two Home Depot runs last night to get another 12 bags.

All told, we went through 59 bags I believe.

For the most part, I loaded up all those bags myself into the mixer. Liz helped out on 2-3 bags, when I started slowling down a bit.

During the first stack of bags, I was struggling. By the time we got to through the first 25 bags, I was really running ragged and had to catch my breath several times.

I also had to haul over 4 bags that were stored further in the basement, a few of which had kind of “solidified” due to moisture. Those bags I had to try to throw onto the ground to break them up a bit, which wasn’t an easy thing to do at that stage for me.

Again, I have to say how thankful we were to have Manny helping us. He saved me from having to haul buckets of cement over to the pit, and that saved me from having to do that in addition to loading up the mixer.

I want to say that by the time we got to the back room, Liz and I had more fully found our tempo. I don’t want to say that I got a second wind per se, but mostly got to a point where I could keep working without feeling exhausted after every mix.

My old gloves, at the end of the pour. Whenever my gloves give out, I think about the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon. And after a few moments, I then think that maybe I should just try to buy better quality gloves.

With a new walkway in place, Bob does a few more passes to smooth things over.

The pour is done!

Your dusty narrator.

Upstairs, we settled in the kitchen to some sandwiches and beers, post-pour. Interestingly, though we talked some about the house and our work… we got into a conversation about politics and religion and faith.

I found it a kind of lovely progression, in that we laid a strong floor and foundation in the basement of our home, and then turned to speaking of faith, religion and God soon after.

Revisiting the pour, after lunch.

Here’s what the same area looked like, two days ago.

Bob and Liz, discussing next steps.

We’ve fallen into a nice cadence where Liz and I can handle prep work on the house during the work week, and then get Bob’s assistance on a Saturday or Sunday.

In looking over the pour, we discussed next steps for the things we have to do to enable putting in a new set of stairs.


With cement pours, it seems that three people really is ideal. I can’t imagine doing something this large and ambitious without Bob’s guidance and experience, and without him handling the smoothing/leveling. Liz and I were busy enough just trying to keep mixing all the cement. Trying to add another task on top of that would have been incredibly challenging (and slow).

I’m glad we started early, as that allowed us to finish with some part of the day left. Liz and I were both pretty exhausted by the time we plopped in front of the TV, after showering.

My arms ache, but not as bad as I thought they might. We have a new section of our basement, freshly poured and slowly curing as I type this. It stil hasn’t sunk in that this part of the basement is done, actually done done.

This cement pour was a huge milestone for us. With this officially completed, it opens up a big next chapter for us, and the next work we can do on the house.

Still though – it hasn’t registered yet. Possibly because we’re overly tired from this last week.

New basement floor. It begins.

Cement Pour Prep: Lowering the Pit
A New Support Beam in the Basement
Pouring Cement in the Back Basement
Early Morning Cement Pour, Evening Fun at 20×2 Chicago

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