Learn how to pour concrete in a horse barn with these easy do it yourself instructions. This step by step guide covers volume calculation and preparation. Just know that pouring concrete in a horse barn differs from other applications only in the way the animals are kept off the site. Furthermore, this holds true only for jobs concerning adding a slab to a functioning barn. Concrete and skin do not mix. Be sure to wear approved gloves and boots before attempting to work directly with concrete.
Prepare the Barn for Concrete
The first step for pouring concrete in a horse barn is to prepare the area. This will involve removing all waste from the animals and establishing a way to keep them out of the area.
Establish a grade for the top of the finished slab. Ideally, the top of the finished slab will be a four inches above the grade of the present barn floor. If this is not the case, then excavate or fill as needed. Remember that gravel or other aggregate stone works best because there is no need to compact the fill as it is with dirt.
Chalk a line around the perimeter of the slab. Use 12″ pieces of 1/2″ rebar for grade stobs. There only needs to be a grade stake for the screed board to ride on when leveling out the wet concrete. Too many only makes finding them and remembering their locations a job in itself. Use a string to determine the tops of the stakes.
Many concrete professionals prefer to use a layer 20 mil poly for the slab to rest on. This will extend curing time for better strength. It is rather expensive however and is a step that can be omitted.
This next step on the other hand can not be left out. Concrete has great strength as long as it being pushed against; pull on it just a little and it will fail. A slab transfers its load just like anything else. It has a compression force at is top and tensile force at its bottom. A 2′ grid of 1/2″ rebar on cradles will do fine to combat this as well as a layer of reinforcing wire. The option we prefer is to use fiber concrete. No extra work goes into the preparation and the end result is super strong. It is just more expensive.
The concrete must have a way in to the site. It is feasible to pour small jobs with a wheelbarrow. Anything over ten yard and you should consider a mechanical alternative such as a pump truck.
Barn Concrete Volume Calculation
The formula for solving for the volume of a rectangular prism is Length * Width * Thickness. This can get a little complicated if you are not used to dealing with feet and inches on a calculator. Construction calculators deal with this but they are not worth the investment just for this. The numbers can be dealt with in inches on a standard calculator with relative ease, but they are large, and then they have to be converted to cubic yards at the end. The tool we prefer for calculating concrete is at Blocklayer.com. Simply enter the dimensions in inches and click calculate. Make certain the slab is flat with no footing. The end result is in displayed in cubic feet. Divide this number by 27 to see the cubic yards.
Once the concrete volume is known, then check with local suppliers to compare prices and availability. Know that most suppliers will also do volume calculations. Click here for more help with estimation.
Pouring the Concrete
Order the mix for an early a time as possible. Nobody like being up all night babysitting a slow curing slab. Make sure there are enough able bodied personel with at least a little experience in screeding down wet concrete with a screed board. The process involves using a screed board to level out the wet mix according to the chalked lines and the grade stobs. It is wise to use a hand float to level out the concrete where there is a chalked line. Simply make a little pad about a foot wide so there is something to go by with the larger screed board.
Once the concrete is is all leveled out (screeded), it can be bull floated. This is not at all difficult to someone with at least a little experience. Beware that many of these procedures can be accomplished with experience, but we do not recommend attempting any of them. They may seem simple when discussing them with other inexperienced help, but believe us, they do require some skill and some elbow grease.
Once the slab has been properly bull floated, it can cure. For a broomed finish, the slab can be a little bit less cured than it needs to be for a slick finish. Broom finishing is far easier than slick finishing and can be accomplished by anyone able to do the bull floating.
The Bottom Line on the Slab
The bottom line is of course how much money will be spent on everything from start to finish. As expensive as the mix is, it is advisable to recruit some workers with at least some experience in concrete. One last important reminder. It is not just horses that are a threat to walking on the curing concrete. The main threat is dogs. The site must be dog proof!