Do It Yourself Tips

Do It Yourself Tips

If you are a do-it-yourselfer contemplating your own project, the most important aspect of your project is to have a plan. The following will assist you in developing your plan. Please take the time to read through the entire Do It Yourself Tips. It can and will save you time, money, and headaches. The information below is not all-inclusive but a summary relative to accomplishing your own concrete work. Dauphinais Concrete recommends you read all the information provided and other literature available regarding working with concrete.

Caution: Concrete Burns!! Read This Warning Before Using

Contact with wet (unhardened) concrete, mortar, cement, or cement mixtures can cause skin irritation, severe chemical burns, or serious eye damage. Wear waterproof gloves, long-sleeved shirt, full-length trousers, and proper eye protection when working with these materials. If you have to stand in wet concrete, use waterproof boots that are high enough to keep concrete from flowing into them. Wash wet concrete, mortar, cement, and cement mixtures from your skin immediately after contact. Indirect contact through clothing can be as serious as direct contact, so promptly rinse out wet concrete, mortar, cement, and cement mixtures from clothing. Seek immediate medical attention if you have persistent or severe discomfort. In case of eye contact, flush with plenty of water for 15 minutes. Consult a physician immediately. Keep out of reach of children. User agrees to convey this warning to all persons who may purchase, use, or come in contact with wet (unhardened) concrete, mortar, cement, or cement mixtures.

Plan Before You Pour

Decide what you are planning to pour. Remember, it is a good idea to tackle one project at a time; concrete is an extremely perishable product. You must have a place on your property for our mixer truck to wash-off the chutes. To make your job easier, figure out where you are going to place the concrete truck for your pour. You can reach the pour from the street if what you are pouring is downhill and less than 14 feet from the curb. If the truck will have to leave the road it will need clearance (width minimum 11 feet, height minimum 14 feet). Mixer trucks are big and heavy; they will rut your lawn and can break curbs, sidewalks, driveways, septic tanks, etc. If you request the truck leave the road and drive onto your site you will be required to sign the waiver taking any and all responsibility for any and all damage that may occur to the site. Your other option would be to wheelbarrow the concrete from the street. But remember, you are allotted only so much time to unload a mixer and you will be charged demurrage if you exceed this time. Concrete is highly perishable and sets up within a couple of hours of being batched at the concrete plant. As it ages (dries or hardens), concrete becomes increasingly difficult to work with; having plenty of help will allow you to place your delivery faster while the concrete is more workable. Concrete is a very heavy building product and will not move easily once it is placed on the ground or in the forms, and the finishing of concrete requires knowledge and skill. It is hard work; having a plan and being familiar with concrete will make the job you are doing more manageable.

Contact your local planning department to verify any requirements that you may need to follow. The need for construction permits, pre and/or post construction inspections, and minimum strength requirements of class of the concrete you will be ordering are common requirements.

If you are planning any excavation or digging, you must contact your local utility companies to find out where any buried utilities are located. In Massachusetts you can call Dig Safe at 1 (877) 934-9917.

Forming Tips

Lumber is the most common forming material. 2x4’s, 2x6’s, or other dimensional lumber are used not only by do-it-yourselfers but also throughout the industry. If you have not already done so for permitting, take the time to make a scaled drawing of your project. This drawing will aid you in figuring out the materials you will need. This scaled drawing will also later aid you in calculating how much concrete you will need. Since you have determined the materials you will need and use on your project, you must now obtain the tools necessary to excavate, form, place, and finish the concrete. Almost all of the tools and materials listed below can be rented at a contractor rental service store or obtained at your local lumberyard.


  • Shovels: spaded and square
  • Pick
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Square
  • String line
  • Vibrating compactor, heavy tamper, or roller

Unless your project will place the concrete on virgin ground, you will want to remove all grass, roots, any vegetation, and loose or soft dirt. You can then replace the above soft materials with a granular fill such as stone. Remove enough dirt so the top of what you are pouring will be slightly above the finished ground level yet deep enough to accommodate a minimum of 4 inches of stone (some codes may require more) and the thickness of the concrete. The stone must then be compacted. Compact the stone with a heavy hand tamper or vibrating compactor. It is of the utmost importance that the entire subbase be fully compacted; if not the concrete may settle and crack.


All of the above plus:

  • Carpenter’s hammer
  • Sledgehammer
  • Duplex (double headed) nails
  • Saw

Start your forming with the four (or more) corners of the pour with stakes. Run your string line along the top/outside of your pour. Use a level to check the levelness of your string line. To drain water off your pour you will need a slight slope (1/8 of an inch per 1 foot is recommended). With the string line in place you can now see your pour. Place your forming materials using the string line as your guide. Stakes that hold the forming material should be placed no more than 4 feet apart and at every joint in the forming material. Carefully nail the forming material to the stakes following the grade of your string line. Concrete is a very heavy material and can and will push or spread forms. It is a good idea to place more stakes than you think you need and even brace the stakes.

Now is the time you should check your subgrade by stretching your string line (or some other straight edge) across the top of the forms and measuring down to the stone. All of the subbase should be within ½ of an inch of the desired depth and fully compacted. Where your new pour will touch existing concrete structure, house, or curb, you will need to isolate them from each other by installing expansion joints (also available at your local lumberyard).

Ordering Tips

You are now ready to place your order by calling our dispatch at 1-508-865-9550. The most important aspect of placing an order is advanced notice. Delivery schedules fill up fast. By calling 2 to 3 days in advance you will have a better chance at getting your delivery at the time agreed. Dispatchers fill their schedules in order to use all mixer trucks. We do not have a spare truck waiting and we do not carry extra concrete. Due to already scheduled orders - and federal limits on driver work hours, etc. - it is not always possible to get your delivery at the time you request.

When placing your order you will need to supply the dispatcher with specific information about your job including: your name, the date and time of the delivery, jobsite address, directions from a major roadway, a telephone number where you can be reached, and how you are planning to pay for the concrete and delivery. The dispatcher may also have other questions when you call.

Explain what you are pouring. This will give the driver something to look for and give the dispatcher an idea of the slump (wetness/dryness consistency) and mix needed to aid you on your job. Most steps are poured at a 3 to 4 inch slump and most slabs at a 4 to 5 inch slump. Remember water can be added onsite to increase the slump but once it is added it cannot be taken out to make the concrete stiffer.

Determine what strength you want. Concrete comes in many strengths and classes. The most common are 3000psi and 4000psi. Dauphinais Concrete recommends a minimum 4000psi air-enhanced concrete for exterior concrete exposed to freeze thaw cycles.

You will need to know how many cubic yards you will be ordering. Dauphinais Concrete delivers a minimum of 1 cubic yard. You can order more in ½ cubic yard increments. If you are not sure our dispatcher will assist you. When figuring quantity you should always round up to the nearest ½ cubic yard and order at least 10% more than you think you need.

Dauphinais Concrete only delivers what you order. Allow for spillage and remember: subgrades are never perfect, and forms do move and spread. Don’t run short; it will be very costly if we have two mixers deliver what one mixer could have. If you calculate more than a full truckload (11 cubic yards) you will then need to determine the spacing of the two or more trucks necessary for delivery to your job. If you are not sure talk to our dispatcher and explain in detail your plan to unload the mixer. Always have plenty of help available to assist you in unloading the mixer. If you plan on using wheelbarrows to unload the mixer truck have 3 to 4 construction size wheelbarrows and helpers who are ready to work. That mixer will have other deliveries to get to; it cannot be on your job longer than the allotted unloading time. If it does you will be charged demurrage.

The dispatcher will ask you if you want any extra products. These are products or additives added to mixes that change the characteristics of the concrete. Some examples are fibers for secondary reinforcement, colors, chemicals for easier workability without adding too much water, faster setting or slower setting characteristics. If you are not sure, our dispatcher will be happy to assist you in determining what is right for you and your job

The order you are placing is a definite ship or it is a will-call order. A ship order will be loaded and arrive near the agreed time, regardless of any other factors like bad weather. A will-call order will not be released until we receive your call a minimum of two hours before the agreed time. Should you fail to cancel or release a will-call order, you will be billed for holding the mixer truck waiting on your order. There are certain times of day we will not take will-call orders because of a heavy work-load.

Additional charges may apply to your order such as: minimum (small or part) load charges, fuel surcharge, environmental impact charge, winter concrete (heated materials), hot water, Saturday or after normal working hour charges, any extra products, special equipment request, or others.

Recap and confirm your discussion with the dispatcher, let all your help know of the time and date of the delivery, and you should be ready to go when the truck arrives.

When the mixer truck arrives on your job explain to the driver what you plan to pour. He may have several suggestions to make your job easier. Discuss hand signals so you can communicate with him during the pour. Show the driver where he is to wash-off his truck after pouring. Remember mixer trucks are heavy; they do not leave the road unless you instruct them to. The damage the mixer truck may cause will be your responsibility. Just prior to placing the concrete you should dampen the stone subbase and coat your forms with a form release agent for ease of removal.

Do It Yourself Tips

Do It Yourself Tips

Please take the time to read through the entire Do It Yourself Tips document. It can and will save you time, money, and headaches. Dauphinais Concrete recommends you read all the information provided before placing an order.