Tools for DIY Concrete Jobs: What do you really need?

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Pouring concrete can be a daunting task, especially if you’ve never done it before. When working on a big project, having the right tools can be the difference between a great finished product and a botched job.

Measuring Tape

Price: 2-3$

This is something that most people have, but it’s easy to understand how critical it really is to projects like pouring concrete. You’ll be using this to measure the area of the space you’re pouring into. This is also useful for making sure that the corners of your form are square. Do not start a project without one of these!

Square Point Shovel

Price: 10-17$

This is the best kind of shovel for mixing concrete with. That makes it an indispensable tool for concrete pouring. It can also be used for adding in the fill during the forming process.

Depending on how you’re delivering the wet concrete to the pouring site, the shovel could be useful for that part of the project as well.

Magnesium Float

Price: 20-30$

Magnesium floats are a great choice when it comes to finishing concrete after it’s been poured. They’re much better than other trowels for this purpose since they’re great for smoothing the surface without pulling at it like wood or other metals do.

Of course, if you can’t find a magnesium float, wood or any other flat surface can fill this role. However, a float will almost always be the optimal choice.

Concrete Mixer

Price: 180-200$, Rent: 48$ per day*

If you plan to use any more than 30lbs of concrete, you’ll need a concrete mixer for your project. Concrete is heavier than you think it is, and the work of mixing that much concrete can be incredibly grueling. The mixer makes this part of the job that much easier, which is why even if you’ll need to rent, it’s probably worth it.


The humble wheelbarrow serves it's purpose bravely.

Price: 40-50$

If you don’t have a mixer, this is where you’ll be mixing your concrete. Even if you are using a mixer, a wheelbarrow is still a great way to transport freshly mixed concrete. Invest in a sturdy wheelbarrow and keep it well maintained. It will make working with concrete so much easier.

As a side note, this is one of the most important of your tools to keep clean after you’re finished with a pour. Getting concrete stuck in your wheelbarrow can make it heavier and decrease the volume inside making it harder to move concrete in.

Safety Glasses

Price: 5-12$

Concrete contains cement as one of its primary ingredients, and cement is made mostly from lime. Lime is the same cleaning agent that is known for being highly caustic under the wrong circumstances. This makes concrete a caustic substance, which can cause serious damage to any part of the body it comes into contact with.

For this reason, you’ll want to invest in some good safety glasses unless you fancy having your eyeballs burned out. You can buy them pretty cheap, but it’s probably a good idea to put the money in for this one.

Thick Rubber Gloves

Price: 20-30$

Same story as above, but since you’ll be putting your hands close to the concrete wet and dry these are almost more important. Without the gloves, you probably will end up with concrete on your hands, and that isn’t where you want to be.

Make sure these gloves are made from thick rubber, leather won’t do since the concrete will do the same thing to that as it will to skin. The more of your arms these gloves will cover the better.

Construction Boots

Price: 12-20$

Just like gloves: Rubber, not leather. Invest in better boots for more protection. You can’t just wear ordinary shoes or sneakers as not only will they sustain damage but they will also probably end up full of concrete, which, as we’ve discussed earlier, would be bad for your feet. Just get the boots, especially if you think you might have to get into the concrete while finishing it.

One-gallon Measuring Pail

Price: 1-10$

If you intend to mix concrete from scratch this will be a godsend for you. Being able to measure the amounts of each of the ingredients you add by volume is extremely useful for making sure that you have your proportions down. Even if you aren’t mixing from scratch, it can still be very useful for making sure you get the right amount of water

Putting in too much or too little water while mixing your concrete can ruin your whole project, so don’t undervalue this inconspicuous little member of your team!

Finishing Broom

Price: 28-65$

Once your concrete is all smoothed and started to dry a little, this tool can help you get the nice walkable finish that you want.

Perfectly smooth surfaces can actually be quite dangerous for walking on, so the finishing broom adding some nice looking grooves can be quite the boost to the usability of a walkway. Just be sure to wait until the slab is a little bit dry before using the broom

Zip Ties

Price: 2-3$

These will be used to attach bits of rebar to one another while you’re constructing your form. Keeping the rebar in its proper grid shape can be pretty difficult without something to hold it all together, and zip ties happen to be both convenient and fast for this purpose

They can also help bind your rebar to the support stakes, which can add an extra layer of stability to the form.

Hammer and Nails

Hammer: 2-6$

Nails: 1-5$

Most people will probably already have these tools, as they are somewhat ubiquitous among toolkits. They will be used for constructing your form, and not having them will make your life significantly harder. If you don’t already have these things, go and get them!

Circular Saw

Price: 100-150$, Rent: 22$ per day*

This is another one that you’ll need to construct the form. Building the form is like any other woodworking project, just simpler in a lot of ways. This one is pretty expensive though, so you’ll probably want to plan and rent it out a few days in advance to cut all the pieces to the length that you want.

On the bright side, you’re unlikely to need the circular saw for any other part of the project, so the faster you can get that part done the less you’ll need to spend on it.

Spirit Level

Yeah, I've been trying to boost my spirit level by grinding spirit slimes. I only need to beat like thirty more before- huh? What do you mean that's not what a spirjt level is?

Price: 10-12$

This can be used for a couple of useful purposes. You’ll want to make sure that the fill under the concrete is at the slope you want it at, and you’ll want the same thing for the ground under that.

Your spirit level will also find use after the concrete has already been poured. Checking whether the concrete is level is also an important task, especially considering that many outdoor projects actually require a slight slope to protect against rainfall.

Concrete Edger

Price: 7-16$

When your concrete is all poured, you’ll want to make sure to use an edger to put some space between it and the edge of the form. This will do a couple of things, including keeping the concrete separate from the wood walls. It also looks pretty nice, and that should be a reward in and of itself.

Concrete Jointer

Price: 15$

A concrete joint is a small divide in a slab of concrete. Cracks in concrete tend to form wherever cracks already are. This means that by putting a little slot in the concrete where you want a crack, you can actually protect the rest of your slab from cracking.

A concrete jointer is useful for making this kind of partition, as it’s literally the one thing it was made for. Especially if you’re pouring a larger slab, one of these will be indispensable.

Power Washer

Price: 180-380$, Rent: 40$ per hour*

When the concrete has had time to dry, there are a few things you’ll need to do. When it’s dry enough, one of those things will be to power wash your new slab to get all of the dust off of it. The power washer is actually the most expensive item on this list on average though, so like with the circular saw you’ll want to plan and take out a rental.

Because dust will get everywhere while you’re washing the slab, you should definitely wear safety glasses and a mask all through the washing process.

Garden Hose

garden hose: makeing things wet in a way that makes things wet.

Price: 8-30$

When you’ve finished with the rest of these tools, you’ll need to clean them right away. Once the concrete has dried on your tools, it might never come off. This can easily ruin tools like floaters or shovels that rely on their shape to be useful. The hose will also be very useful for keeping the slab hydrated during the curing process.

Pouring concrete can take up a lot of resources and be pretty expensive. However, if you put in the time, money, and effort, you can produce great-looking projects without needing to rely on expensive contractors for the labor.

*Rent prices vary by location.

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