Cement Pour in Cedar Lake

Yesterday, Liz and I had plans to help Bob with a cement pour over at Katie’s place. The weather wasn’t on our side yesterday, with a ton of rain throughout the morning and early afternoon.

Bob and Tim worked outside in the rain all day, and got a lot of the initial prep work done (framing, laying down a paver base, renting a compactor, rebar). And so the actual work of pouring the cement got shifted to today.

Liz and I got some coffee and breakfast for the road, and arrived in Cedar Lake a litle after 9AM. We got a lay of the land, and began to plan our day.

Over the course of the work on our own house, we’ve acquired a handful of specific skills – mostly due to just repetition and practice. Demo-ing walls is one such skill, and mixing/pouring cement is another. It’s kind of weird that way – it’s not something either of us sought out to get good at, but we’ve just done it enough to where we feel pretty competent.

The mixer, which performed wonderfully despite living under out back porch for the last six months.

Two pallets of cement! For anyone keeping count, there are seven bags per layer, six payers per pallet. So that’s 48 bags per pallet, or 96 in total here.

Bob estimated we’d use about 54 bags for our pour (the additional bags are slated for a few other, smaller projects at the house).

With our mixer positioned in a good spot, Liz kicked things off.

We followed the same steps as many of our prior mixes, all of which goes back to the formula we landed on when pouring cement in the back basement. Whenever we do a pour, we always go back and reference that particular entry, so we know what our process is.

Liz starts by pouring in 3/4 gallon of water into the mixer. I’ll have two 80 lb bags, each split in half, at the ready. After dumping one full bag in, Liz adds in another 3/4 gallon of water. Which I follow with the second bag.

As things are mixing, I prepare two more bags, splitting both in half. Liz monitors the cement in the mixer, adding in water from the garden hose as needed to get the proper consistency.

When we’re ready to pour, we set up two buckes near the wheels of the mixer. Liz turns the mixer over, and gets the cement into the buckets (mostly). This is a pretty messy and imprecise action at best, so there’s always some spillage.

As those buckets are walked over to be poured, Liz adds in 3/4 gallon of water for the next round. I’ll add in a bag, which she follows with 3/4 gallon of water, which I also follow with another bag.

As that is mixing, Liz takes a small shovel to pick up any excess cement that’s spilled onto the ground. We’ve learned to try to keep things moving at all times, and to keep the cement mixer running at all times.

Tim helped me with getting the cement into the mixer, and also handled most of the cement transport over to the pad. I’m really thankful for this, as getting the bags split and poured into the mixer began to wear me down. I’ve been responsible for both of these tasks before (pouring and transporting), and it is way better to have someone else do the transport, let me tell ya.

Bob, smoothing and getting all the cement level. I think he had one of the harder jobs today, as he was constantly working in the direct sun – right from the get go. Tim and I had a bit of shade, as Katie brought over a tarp that kept a section by the cement pallets covered. Bob though, was fully under the sun the whole time.

Bob, working as Tim hauls another bucket to drop.

Liz, manning the mixer. Given all the rain from yesterday, this area got really muddy – and so Tim and Bob used the bags from the paver base as an extra layer against the mess. We built on top of that a bit, with some of the cement bags.

Making good progress!

Liz, watching as Tim and Bob use a 2×4 to level things out.

Liz, working some of the cement while Bob takes a sorely needed break.

Bob clearing the surface with a broom while Liz handles some finishing touches.

Liz, pretty well soaked with water and sweat and cement (her shoes are actually purple, if you can tell under all that mess).

Rinsing things out in the streeth, at first with the garden hose and then with Tim’s power washer.

It’s kind of funny, in that Bob was just standing here, watching Tim work. But a few moments after I took this photo, I walked over… and did exactly the same thing. Just stood there, watching Tim work.

I think we were all pretty exhausted at this time, and were just working on the final “clean up” tasks remaining.

The pad that will eventually house a hot tub. There’s a bit of debris at the top, but I was told that after we left… Bob went over things again, and it cleaned up really nicely.

After a great lunch of chicken kebobs and pulled pork sandwiches, we had one final big push: move all the remaining bags of concrete into the garage (along with all the extra paver base bags).

Cameron joined me and Tim, and the three of us loaded up Bob’s truck with a few bags at a time. We moved 8 bags of concrete per run, and Bob drove them from the yard and backed them into the garage, where we unloaded them.

With two other guys, we made pretty short work of things. And after moving those 80 pound bags of concrete, the 40 pound bags of paver base felt like bags of sugar.

All told, we started the pour around 10:00 AM and got done around 12:30 or 12:45 PM. We went through 58 bags in all, which wasn’t too far off the mark.

Our back basement cement pour had us go through 31 bags in 2.5 hours. Compared to that, we totally blew through this pour, and got 27 more bags done in roughly the same amount of time.

On the drive home, Liz and I were reflecting on the pour – and it really went about as well as it could have. We were both joking about how weird it was that we’ve become good at such a random skill as this – when it differs so much from our day jobs.

Funny thing: on our way back to Chicago, we decided to stop at a Home Depot for some supplies for our own house. We needed some extra insulatioon for the second floor, along with a few other odds and ends.

This weekend has been super busy and super productive. There’s a part of me that’s really looking forward to going back to work on Monday. Looking forward to things settling down a little. Whew.

Final, Big Cement Pour in the Basement
Early Morning Cement Pour, Evening Fun at 20×2 Chicago
Pouring Cement in the Back Basement

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