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What Does a Concrete Finisher Do?

By Kat Consador
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A concrete finisher’s main job is to smooth concrete as soon as it’s been poured to ensure that it dries evenly and to make sure that the project as a whole achieves consistent results when it comes to final texture, thickness, and density. This person is usually an expert craftsman who has studied a lot about how concrete and concrete blends behave under different conditions. He or she is usually responsible for finalizing any pouring project, which typically involves the use of several different tools and techniques. Coordination with other members of the construction team is usually an important part of the job, too, both in terms of finishing the project to specification and alerting others to things like dry time and space parameters as the concrete is setting.

Basic Concept

Concrete is a very common material used in construction projects, and is used for a variety of different purposes, too. It is commonly poured into foundations to give buildings a sturdy support base, and may also be used as flooring; in some cases it’s made into bricks as well, which can be used in anything from insulation to actual construction. The substance is also frequently used to make sidewalks, curbs, and roadways. It’s usually made of a composite of gravel, sand, and water, and on its own it isn’t usually very smooth. Getting a polished, even surface is where the professional finisher comes in.

Most of the time there are a lot of calculations that go into the work. Certain concrete mixes have more or less stable compositions, but masons often create their own blends to suit the specifics of a given project. Getting a good finish no matter the composition and environment is one of the most important things about this craftsman’s job, and can involve a lot of thought when it comes to the durability of the ingredients, the ambient outside temperature, the wind speed, and the environmental humidity, among other things.

Process and Required Tools

Formwork is the basic foundation for laying and aligning concrete, a task typically performed by a concrete mason. Once the foundation has been prepared, concrete is then cast by laborers. After a concrete mason levels and floats the concrete, the finisher presses an edging tool between the forms and concrete. A finisher produces a slightly rounded edge by guiding the edging tool along the edge and surface with the purpose of preventing any chipping or cracking. Concrete finishers then use an important tool called a groover, which helps control cracking by making joints and grooves at precise intervals.

No matter what surface the finisher uses, he or she then applies sealing and hardening compounds. These can be used to cure the concrete surface. A finishing expert then takes the time to closely evaluate the surface with the goal of finding any rough or uneven areas, and he or she cleans any chipped areas using wire brushes.

Different Effects

Finishing craftsmen can create different textures on concrete by using various tools and techniques. For a smooth surface, a finisher uses a rectangular tool called a trowel. A finisher develops a smooth finish by moving the trowel back and forth on the concrete surface. For a coarse finish, a broom or stiff-bristled brush is usually the implement of choice. A pebble finish can be produced by embedding small chips of gravel into the concrete's surface.

Interaction With Other Team Members

Pouring, setting, and finishing concrete takes teamwork. A typical team includes a concrete mason, a finisher, and other laborers. A concrete mason and finisher can share similar duties, and some employers require a mason to take on all of the duties that are typical for a finisher. At times, the titles can be used interchangeably. A concrete finisher can also be known as a cement finisher, cement mason, finisher, mason, or concrete mason.

PracticalAdultInsights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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