Expert advice on how to install concrete for decks and patios, including how to mix and pour a concrete slab or foundation, and having concrete delivered .

For footings and/or a slab, you will need concrete. Basic concrete is composed of Portland cement, sand, gravel (also called aggregate), and water. Portland cement is the glue that holds the mix together.

Concrete slab is poured over a grid of steel re-bar.

The more cement there is, the stronger the concrete will be. If you are mixing a small amount of concrete or mortar and want to strengthen it, simply add a shovel or two of cement.

When ordering from a ready-mix company, specify how much cement you want; a “six- bag mix” contains six bags of cement per yard of concrete, making it strong enough for most projects.

If you live in an area with freezing winters, consider ordering air-entrained concrete, which contains tiny bubbles. The bubbles lend the concrete a bit of flexibility, so it is less likely to crack in cold weather. Air- entrained concrete is available only from a concrete truck.

If freezing weather is possible on the day of the pour, you can order an accelerating additive, which makes the concrete harden more quickly. If the weather is hot and dry, think about adding a retardant, which will slow the drying time. If the concrete sets too quickly, you may not have enough time to correctly finish the surface.

NEXT SEE: Pouring a Concrete Slab

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About Don Vandervort
Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years as a remodeler and builder, Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” served as MSN’s home expert for several years, and is featured as Yelp's home improvement expert. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort