How to Install a Concrete Floor Using Concrete Panels

Concrete panels” or “concrete slabs” are a versatile precast concrete product, ideal for floor construction. They are highly efficient and practical than poured concrete, saving time and money. Concrete panels are preferred for patio floors or basement floors. Concrete panels can also be used as a temporary floor if you have removed some of the concrete floor to perform repairs.

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You can buy these concrete panels or to pour them yourself. You need only, forms and reinforcement steel bars.

Materials & Tools

– Excavating Equipment (Digging Tools); Plate Compactor; Hand Tamper;
– Concrete Saw; Broom; Wood Board (2 by 4-inch); Expansion Joints;
– Masonry trowel; Hand float; Silicone Sealant;  Vapor retarder material (Polyethylene);
– Gravel (Crushed Rock); Masonry Sand; Concrete Mix;

1. Excavate and Level the Ground

a) New Basement Floor:
First, you need to excavate the ground. Optimum digging depth is 6” plus the thickness of your concrete panels. Add and remove soil until the surface is completely leveled.
b) Old Basement Floor:
If you do not want to install a new floor, you need only to patch an area of an old concrete floor, then it is not necessary to excavate the ground. Using a concrete saw you need to cut a section from the old concrete floor. The cut surface should be ¼” larger than the concrete panel surface.

2. Spread and Compact Gravel (Crushed Rock)

a) New Basement Floor:
The next step is to spread a layer of gravel or crushed rock. Use a plate compactor (or hand tamper) and compact the gravel layer. Optimal thickness of the gravel layer must be about 4”.
b) Old Basement Floor:
In this case, you have a gravel layer, no need for you to spread a new one. However, it is a good idea to compact it.

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3. Spread Masonry Sand

Sprinkle masonry sand over the gravel layer. You need a sand layer with thickness of 2 inches.

Using a 2 by 4 board level the sand layer and compact it with a hand tamper.

4. Cover the Sand Layer with a Vapor Retarder Material

Cover the sand layer with a polyethylene sheet. Polyethylene film should be wider by 6 “than the sand surface, on all its sides.

Polyethylene film is layer of protection against water that can infiltrate and damage your concrete panels, causing cracks.

5. Set the Concrete Panels

Lay down the concrete panels. Place our concrete panels in the chosen model, but do not forget to leave ¼” space between them. This gap will prevent the cracking of concrete in case of contraction or expansion.

When you get fitted to the edge of the surface, measure and cut the concrete panels to the desired extent. Use the concrete saw to cut the concrete slabs.

6. Push Polymeric Sand into the Gaps between the Concrete Panels

Using a pushing broom push polymeric sand into the gaps between the concrete slabs. By composition, polymeric sand is most suitable for filling crevices. It is elastic, allowing contraction and expansion of the concrete.

The sand should be wet for better compaction.

7. Insert Expansion Joints between the Concrete Panels

The last step is the insertion of expansion joints between the concrete panels.

Then, caulk them with silicone sealant and your job is done.