After pouring the concrete into the form, the Fiorino team uses some special tools to compact it. This begins with “screeding,” a process that involves dragging a long, straight board called a screed across the concrete surface to level it with the frame.
Once the screeding is complete, our team uses something called a “bull float.” While the name sounds kind of funny, finishing your concrete with this tool is extremely important. It helps the “cream” rise to the top of the concrete surface, creating a strong, beautiful finish!
What Is A Bull Float?
A bull float is a simple tool – it’s a flat strip of material, often magnesium, connected to a long handle. The bull float should be as flat as possible to prevent the premature sealing of the cement surface. Pulling the bull float over the concrete surface levels out and smoothens the surface, sets the larger pieces of aggregate into the concrete, and removes any high and low spots.
It’s important to note that bull floating is one job and floating is another. After pouring and screeding the concrete, installers will bull float the concrete during the initial finishing process before bleed water, excess moisture that comes out of the concrete as it dries, appears. Floating, on the other hand, is a final finishing process performed after the bleed water dries. The final floating is done with either a hand tool or a power float, and it eliminates any small imperfections in the surface mortar while compacting it for any further finishing.
How Do We Use A Bull Float To Finish Concrete?
After pouring the concrete and screeding it level, the bull float is the first tool we use when finishing the slab. The job must be done right after screeding because the concrete will still be wet enough to shape. When going over the concrete, we try and keep float must be kept as flat as possible to prevent the concrete from sealing prematurely. The length of the handle allows us to reach out onto a concrete slab without having to get on the concrete with kneeboards.
When we push the bull float, the front is tilted up; as we pull the float back, we lift the back slightly. This keeps the surface smooth without digging the magnesium board into the concrete by accident. As it moves across the surface, the magnesium blade pushes the larger aggregate down slightly, helping moisture and a smaller sedimentary “slurry” rise to the surface. This is the “cream” we referenced earlier, and this non-aggregate mix will create a smooth surface.
Once we’re finished with the bull float, it’s time to edge the slab (if that’s required) and hand float it. We use a stainless steel hand trowel to smoothen it out and give the concrete project a beautiful, even, and durable surface.