My name is Lupe and I've been working with concrete for 10 years! Surely not the coolest job but pretty interesting! I set, pour, and finish Slabs for foundations of stores and homes, driveways, patios, sidewalk, etc. Just a hard working guy with a team of knuckle heads getting the jobs done right. My Proof:* http://m.imgur.com/q9jP6Ky

edit: Nice little pic of what we do when it starts pouring rain in the middle of us pouring a huge job site. http://m.imgur.com/Wa238SG

edit2: more proof http://m.imgur.com/PLn6iFy

edit3: you guys are fucking awesome, great questions !

Comments: 357 • Responses: 81  • Date: 

calfungo42 karma

What's your worst experience of something getting stuck in concrete?

Lupiyo97 karma

nothing typically ever gets in Concrete really. We go over it plenty of times to get a nice smooth finish. Though, the guys have played some pretty sick pranks. We take our work boots off and put on rubber concrete boots when working. One of the guys filled another guy's shoes with concrete and it sat there for a whole 8 hours and was rock hard! They were really old and worn so he wasnt that mad haha

cgull62971 karma

http://imgur.com/LUcVfEd

Finishers nightmare.

Lupiyo39 karma

YES

berkeleykev12 karma

My main pumper told me he was on a foundation repair in a crawlspace once and the guys got his hose irretrievably stuck in the formwork and in the end had to cut off the end of the hose with a sawzall. They left it in the pour.

MashedPotaties16 karma

Use to have a pump operator who would lose his shit when things went wrong. Threw a big rock in the hopper and it plugged his hose. He lost it. Brought the rock out to us to show us what got stuck. We threw if back in a little later. Ha

Lupiyo10 karma

Concrete finishers are such dicks.

Lupiyo2 karma

Sounds tragic mate

awfl31 karma

Hi; spent many a day cleaning tools and troweling machine as Dad was laborer, then finisher on huge commercial for +40 years, but did small jobs on weekends. A master trowel-er, he could spot dips and level over tens or hundreds of yards and had this reputation. Old school, he taught me the necessity of boots, and the horror of going without them. A union guy, he is in great health at over 75 (a rarity) and the benefits give him a small comfort, but wonder, in today's world, what your thoughts are on unions?

Lupiyo31 karma

My father taught me trade. He had been in the business 25+ years. Once they get to a certain point they can catch the smallest of mistakes a mile away. No union here, never been in one

RockinJack1823 karma

What is the hardest part of working with concrete?

Lupiyo50 karma

There are quite a few difficult and annoying things with the job. Sometimes the guys in charge don't want to pay for a laser leveler machine so we have to level out huge jobs by hand. By that I mean having one guy on each end of a 16' steel 2x4 and hauling back concrete to level it. The concrete is dry and hard so it's killer on your back, hamstrings, and most of all forearms.

drf2418 karma

So it's not all the concrete?

Lupiyo26 karma

steel and wire is placed in Concrete for added support in certain areas where more weight will be held

Imakemess2 karma

Isn't it common place to set skreet pipes to ensure slab height

Lupiyo6 karma

we do it with either a wooden stake hammered in with a nail at level or just use a level laser

xavyre1 karma

Charge more for leveling it without the laser.

Lupiyo3 karma

The big jefe pockets the money :(

Renwuad8 karma

Layout guy here for concrete job sites. The hardest part to be honest is dealing with the language barriers. I don't care who says what. When you can't understand Spanish and the finishers don't understand English. It tends to be a very stressful day.

Lupiyo14 karma

Luckily I'm the foreman and I'm bilingual.

Limeandrew2 karma

I wish I was bilingual, I work retail and its so frustrating not being able to help someone who doesn't speak English well or at all. I've learned a few words or phrases over the years, but so many dialects, slang, and speeds of people speaking Spanish I have a hard time.

Lupiyo6 karma

I'm a fluent Spanish speaker. Raised in it and took on Spanish courses and college courses, but tbh some people have such a different dialect I can't even understand them sometimes. I have to resort to the 'nod and smile' and hope they weren't asking anything serious haha

dpc4622 karma

I am about to make some concrete countertops. Do you have any advice?

Lupiyo54 karma

honestly never done those but I'm assuming it's the same thing. just make sure your forms are nice and tight ! go back over it a few times with the trowel until your satisfied and afterwards add sealant and stain so it looks nice and glossy. dm me your DIY I'm interested in how it comes out!

mattinthebox6 karma

I've heard that it's very important to get the air bubbles out. Use a vibrator if you have it (no, not that kind) or cut into the concrete with your trowel many many times once it's freshly poured.

Maybe somebody with more experience can comment.

Lupiyo5 karma

we go over it several times with the trowel to finish Slabs by hand

Greasygrape9 karma

I built myself one of those http://imgur.com/gallery/bWxDB93 Pretty happy with the result

Lupiyo6 karma

Looks nice af bro

thelifeinpictures20 karma

I want to put a 20x20ish concrete basketball court in my backyard. Wife is vehemently against it saying it'll ugly the yard. How can I pitch that this is a genius idea?

Lupiyo52 karma

Doing one now as we speak! not done but I'll send a pic of the finished product maybe it'll change her mind hehe currently: http://m.imgur.com/h3N2uWY

TouchedByHisGooglyAp3 karma

Can you share the cost on something like this?

Lupiyo6 karma

I gave him $2800 on the price

muchamp5 karma

This may be tacky of me to ask here, but what does something like that cost?

Lupiyo13 karma

we did it for him for $2800

BoingoBongo16 karma

Hi, I've got two questions:

  1. What's the best way to keep concrete of a driveway/garage clean?

  2. In a <2 year old home, is there a "normal" amount of cracking to be expected in the garage floor?

Thanks for doing this, your line of work is really interesting!

Lupiyo27 karma

TL;DR a good pressure wash every so often will do the trick.

For freshly poured concrete a sealant is sprayed over the concrete leaving a shiny wax like finish. It makes it so that the concrete doesn't get dirty easily and to make it look nicer. You can spray sealer on your D.W. or garage after a good clean with pressure wash or you can just pressure wash the concrete every few months or so to keep it clean with out adding sealer. Typically D.W. have a concrete mix of 3000 PSI. Make sure not to wash it with insane pressure or you might blow the top layer off.

edit: question 2.. cracking is normal and happens all the time on slabs. It is not something to worry about. Steel runs across garages for support and the concrete will either have fiber in it or there will be wire in the within the concrete.

bladelock2 karma

What exactly is the fiber? Is it the same material as the steel wiring?

Lupiyo8 karma

serves the exact same purpose. it's added into the concrete mix.

Mikehideous14 karma

I work with concrete too (formwork carpenter), and up here in Alberta we have a saying, "You can finish High School, or you can finish concrete". How true is that where you are?

Lupiyo27 karma

Concrete is a good trade to get in, but is very physically demanding work. Guys here can make $1200 weekly if they learn the job inside and out and if work is in high demand. Sadly a lot of the guys I work with are immigrants and don't even have any education higher than elementary school. That's just how hard life is for them back in their country. They have to work from a young age 8yrs plus.

method767014 karma

I work as an Estimator and PM for a major contractor.

What do you think is the major thing that we as managers and estimators miss for the job site craft labor such as yourself?

Lupiyo18 karma

we are ALWAYS short on steel for big jobs.

paddyman2314 karma

I just started doing land development design, and have a few questions:

1) Have you ever worked with sloping pads, and what were the inherent difficulties in laying an even foundation over a sloped pad

2) what are some things that us "pencil pushers" do that drive you CRAZY?

3) what are a few things that people on the design end can do to make your life easier?

Lupiyo18 karma

yes and there is no real difficulty. we just get the tractor in and grade accordingly. We typically don't really have problems with anyone, but superintendants do drive us crazy when we finish forming up a slab or pad and they decide on changing the elevation or move the entire set up around after we have finished. To answer your 3rd question just let it be clear where you want the water to run and be clear on the plans :P

paddyman2311 karma

Haha that was the first thing that was instilled in me: MAKE PLANS READABLE. Glad it's appreciated on the other side and my incessant stress is worth it xD

Lupiyo11 karma

THANK YOU😆 guys like you make the job that much easier.

thelifeinpictures8 karma

How do you math quotes/jobs? I can imagine it's something like square footage times something times cost of concrete times average labor time per square footage, etc. Or maybe I'm overthinking it.

Lupiyo13 karma

every job is different. material (steel,wire,wood,concrete) + sqft ( varies by what is being poured slab vs basement vs parking lot vs sidewalk vs porch/patio vs curb)

bobberino017 karma

What do you do if the forms break while or soon after pouring?

Lupiyo15 karma

Been doing this for 10 years. Forms have never broken. we put wooden stakes in to the ground every 3-4 feet and we put a wooden brace on every stake to ensure it will not bend or curve and so that it stays exactly level.

ShooterDiarrhea10 karma

You should give pointers to the dumbass morons at my site. I've seen dozens of times when the form fails and bends and whatnot. Even after standing there and giving them clear instructions. Even had to put an NCR for that shit.

Lupiyo6 karma

I've seen other guys with bent form boards... looks terrible and makes it harder for the framers to do their job.

delindakay7 karma

Where do you do this work? Question about foundation pouring, in Florida I have seen contractors that truck in a mountain of sand that they let sit for awhile before leveling and pouring the foundation, this seems not to be the most stable material for a foundation to sit on.. In fact, several of the vacation homes that I take care of were built in this matter and I often see cracks in the stucco along the brick edges. Is this a common procedure or cheap cutting of costs?

Lupiyo13 karma

I work in Ga and in states around. I've worked in Florida a few times and have seen this practice been done. the sandy material is gone over with a machine to compact it and make it really tight. All foundation work has to have a city inspection so the tightness is checked to make sure it is stable. As for brickledge, it is tied with the footing of the slab. A footing is basically a trench going around the slab with rebar (steel) put inside to ensure stability. B.L. should be fine. There should only be a problem if there are foundation cracks, but inspections are really strict and the trenches along with the steel make for good support.

flukz6 karma

Lol. I've never seen it done in such a small scale. Paying two hands to push the pump arm up with picks.

You get what? Ten yards per truck? What's your biggest pour? Do you guys set and tie your own bar or do you employ iron workers? This looks rural; problem with cold seams? When you finish, do you have to grind down for looks or just finish the pour?

Lupiyo2 karma

yes yes yes and yes ! we just finish the pour and finish the concrete till it's glass like smooth. 99% no grinding even necessary

flukz2 karma

Cool. I don't know what they're called, but do you use those machines that have two fan things that you drive with two sticks? They seem to be doing the finish on the surface of the slab.

Lupiyo3 karma

we only use walk behind trowel machines not sit ons. idk why just how we happen to work but yes they're called trowel machines

flukz2 karma

OK, i've seen those as well, as well as guys troweling by hand in places the machines cant get to.

How do you get them on the slab? Are they liftable or do you use a machine. I always see tower cranes moving them.

Lupiyo5 karma

we all get around it and with 4 guys we lift it from underneath and waddle to the slab.

Octavia96 karma

Every finisher I've know (family in construction) was a burn out. Worked their ass off by day and high as a kite after. They blew their money on drugs, tattoos, hookers, and gambling. Always broke and asking for an advance. Has this been your experience with your coworkers, and would you let you daughter marry a concrete finisher?

Lupiyo10 karma

described a lot of the guys here i know. but a lot of them are also hard working guys who love and support their family and have never touched a drug or hurt a fly.

yes why not. I'm one my father was a lot of my god friends are

Llevis6 karma

How hard is it to keep the whole damned slab level? Almost every slab I've seen has one or two parts with a shitty dip or hump, or a shower a few inches off.

Source: am framer who is sick of shitty slabs

Lupiyo5 karma

we set up strings across all sides of the house where we set up the form boards at the EXACT level and measurements. we make 200% that the form boards will not move anywhere so that it stays level. during the pour we level it out by hand with a straight edge steel 2x4

Jugalotus_lol5 karma

Another framer here, what about when the anchor bolts are totally outta line with the planned wall? Is it just a misread of the plan or something that happens when it's poured?

Lupiyo5 karma

most likely misread off plan. sorry doesn't typically happen ever with us :(

nomptonite5 karma

What state/area do you work?... Here in OK we have a lot of expansive clay soil, so many here use post-tension slabs. Do you have any thoughts on these? We're about to build a house, and the builder uses a post-tension slab. I'm not crazy about the idea, but he says they have good luck with it.

Edit: just read you work in and around GA

Lupiyo7 karma

GA and we do a lot of this work. and yes it is good. Bad support from the ground with no support elsewhere and you'll have concrete submerging and breaking over time

shorta075 karma

What is the craziest work story you have? And what is the best prank you pull on your co-workers?

Recently had concrete guys from Pennsylvanian come to my factory job in Iowa and tear out and pour a shit ton of concrete. Some areas were 20" deep. It was really interesting watching them and I asked one of the guys what his craziest story was and he said they were doing a federal job and found bones....Next day FBI kicked them off the property and told them they weren't needed anymore.

Lupiyo6 karma

Nothing that crazy or extreme just lots of funny moments like falling straight into a pier filled with concrete so the guy came out head to toe covered in the mix lol

Lupiyo3 karma

Nothing that crazy or extreme just lots of funny moments like falling straight into a pier filled with concrete so the guy came out head to toe covered in the mix lol

HelloMrGoodbye5 karma

Does a slab always need plastic wrap underlayment? And what's a rule of thumb of using rebar if you don't have an engineered plan for a small residential project. Thanks!

Lupiyo4 karma

yes we always do. except for driveways. and just always lay them on top of steel chairs and keep them always 2 inches from the form board on both ends ALWAYS

Rehmanpa4 karma

Hi, I have 2 questions for you. 1. I want to build a shed in my backyard that will be like a room, because where I live if it's less than 200 sqft the overall amount of permits I need goes way down. Would you recommend a concrete slab for this or dissing up like a crawlspace area and adding hardwood? If concrete, in general, how much would you say that 200sqft of concrete costs? 2. I don't know a lot about concrete or really building things in general, but is rebar always uses in building a foundation? Just kinda curious.

Lupiyo3 karma

Well imo slabs are far better. They're more stable and last forever. There needs to be footing around the perimeter of the slab and steel chairs laying in the footings to lift up the rebar in the footing. footings are typically 20 inches tall from the top of the form board by 16inches wide. 6 yards of concrete fire slab and footing. about $100 a yard. some companies may charge a lot (additional $200+) for small orders

Park_Way4 karma

Only slabs? I see your main work is mostly residential, ever do any footings or structural concrete pours? What about municipal stuff like sidewalks or patching?

Lupiyo7 karma

All of the above sir

berkeleykev4 karma

Are you legal and is your crew legal?

Lupiyo17 karma

Yes and no

Deadlifts-And-Donuts3 karma

Soon to be homeowner here. House I am buying has a pole barn with no flooring... was used as a horse training area. My dream is to turn it into a home gym which will require putting in a floor. Is it even possible to get a slab out in under the existing structure? If it is possible is it crazy expensive?

Lupiyo5 karma

it is possible. you just need to order a pump. the kind that runs from a machine and has a flexible rubber pump tubing used in indoor areas. same price as a regular pour just have to pay the additional amount for the pump

Christ_on_a_Crakker2 karma

I have done two or three pole barns just using chutes and wheel barrels. Lot of work but saves on a pump truck.

Most slabs are poured after the pole barn is erected. Afaik. The last one we did we bull floated and used a power trowel for the finish. Saves on the knees.

Lupiyo2 karma

Goddamn man! Must be a hell of a beating with wheel barrows. That's how we poured the big patio we did today haha i think it was 20x25

yungsnacklord3 karma

How do you feel about concrete sinks /countertops?

Lupiyo6 karma

they look sick man

shinobi83 karma

Just bought a house and planning heavy use of concrete (raw and polished, for feature walls, flooring etc) throughout the house to give it a somewhat industrial feel. What should I be careful of? What surprises may I encounter, and finally what are your thoughts on finer cement panels? Thanks!

Lupiyo4 karma

make sure it is sealed and finished correctly. i think it looks fucking awesome on a house man and congrats on the house!

TheObtuseAngle3 karma

I'm working on a designing a Concrete Masonry Unit wall. I have tons of experience with concrete and steel design but very little for CMU. What do you do for odd shaped door and window openings? Can you cut the blocks to make it work? Ideally I guess it would be like Lego, every opening spaced at a multiple of the block size.

Lupiyo3 karma

yes they can be cut

notyourmom73 karma

Do you have any experience doing special effects on concrete? For example, making it look like stucco or making statuary. I've been wanting to try it, so wondering how hard it is to do.

Lupiyo7 karma

we've only done stamping which makes it look like brick work (very nice) and colored concrete :)

Gingerchaun2 karma

Do you tie tour own bar at all?

Lupiyo1 karma

yes every single one every single time.

Beastacles2 karma

Is staining as easy to fuck up as I'm told?

Lupiyo2 karma

YES

gatorcountry2 karma

Have you considered getting a bigger pump?

Lupiyo3 karma

we don't own pumps. we get a company out there varying in size pump depending on job

dlhunter2 karma

Why is no one vibrating that concrete? Also, the pump guy needs to position that pump a little better next time.

Lupiyo5 karma

it's not necessary for a small jobs like this where , aside from the footings the concrete is only 4 inches thick. on the edges we do hammer the form boards to let it sink in nicely though.

can-o-ham2 karma

Any advise on getting into bricklaying? There are several projects I would like to do but none are "beginner " projects. Just keep it level or is there more to it?

Lupiyo2 karma

keep it level. make sure the mix is appropriate and have a good foundation/ ledge

macdavisishere1 karma

Is concrete life?

Lupiyo5 karma

It is indeed so my friend.

_PM_ME_YOUR_BONERSSS1 karma

What's the one thing about concrete that the new guys on the job always mess up?

Lupiyo3 karma

we usually put them to haul back the concrete with the rake. they never hold it right and always pull with just their back.

occassionalcactus1 karma

If I have stamped concrete i want to patch can i use concrete on top of it?

Will concrete adhere to new concrete? Is it possible to break up a section and redo the top?

Lupiyo2 karma

There is a specific kind in powder form you mix with water. just a coating over so yes!

squintina1 karma

What's your funniest/most ridiculous concrete job story?

Lupiyo4 karma

saw a concrete pump ( the fucking huge ones that go 200ft in the air) tip over and destroy a basement wall

gcready1 karma

Have you ever used one of the riding smoothers? If so, what is that like?

Lupiyo2 karma

never have just use bull floats :(

GeneralDelight1 karma

Have you ever gotten any contracts or jobs from the mob?

Lupiyo2 karma

no sadly i imagine they pay handsomely

OCPScJM23 karma

Always 1/10th of a yard left over.

Lupiyo2 karma

nope only a piece of gravel left going down the shoot

Fairshakeplz1 karma

What the hell is in those crockpots you guys bring for lunch? It smells like the inside of a horses asshole and wreaks havoc on the Porto Pot!

Lupiyo1 karma

hell if we know lol we always go to the Mexican restaurants or we are so busy we don't get a chance to eat all day

TheSomberWolf1 karma

How do you feel about the lack of skilled labour in America? Both presidential candidates want to improve infrastructure but the work force is 40% baby boomers and the trades are not seen as a viable career as much by young folks. How can we get young people to want to do skilled jobs?

Lupiyo3 karma

Honestly, this job is pretty harsh. It takes up all of your time. Especially from my end. Picking up guys and driving to work is 3 hours commute a day. plus the 12 hour work day 6days a week. This job is also extremely physically demanding and stressful. This field of work isn't for everybody. Higher education is key to a better job and trust me there are many better jobs than this one, but right now this is what I'm doing to finish paying my education and to help my family.

TurboChewy1 karma

When you see people do concrete themselves (non-professionals), like on r/DIY, for example, what mistakes do you see people make that, as a professional, bothers you?

Lupiyo3 karma

I dont see many patios or sidewalks just molding or countertops/ tables. They look pretty decent tbh

Abs_of_flabs1 karma

Hi, what's the best resource you can recommend for somebody who wants to learn the trade?

Lupiyo2 karma

all training is on job. just go under the wing of the foreman.

Aboluv1 karma

What do you think the best solution for concrete leveling? Part of my driveway has sunk a little and I got a quote for raising the concrete by injecting foam underneath.

Lupiyo2 karma

I've never heard of injecting foam. we just saw cut the bad or all of it and replace it. best solution imo

pahex1 karma

I got a tour through Rudus safety park last summer and according to the things i learned about working with concrete I'd say that the proof-picture shows total neglience towards safety excluding the hardhats and boots. What's the worst that has happened in your construction sites?

Lupiyo9 karma

oh god safety rules are important don't get me wrong but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do to get the job done or your ass is on the line and you're out of a job

Kennywennybooboo1 karma

What's the biggest pour quantity wise you've done in one day?

Lupiyo3 karma

20,000 sqft

swervingink5181 karma

How do those huge hoses you use to pour, pump concrete several stories into the air?

Lupiyo2 karma

through a several long rotating belts

ItsIllak1 karma

Is there a way of using concrete to make a drive (e.g. area in front of a house, usually used for off-street parking) that doesn't look cheap and nasty?

Lupiyo2 karma

of course. it'll just be poured, gone over with a trowel and float once it is hard enough and then broomed. finally picture frame with an edger and joint.

savvysexy1 karma

I find that so many contractors are dishonest and cut corners. Any advice on getting honest fair pricing on a job?

Lupiyo3 karma

do your research on the price of material and what exactly you need for your job. sometimes unnecessary work is done on small jobs

mindzipper1 karma

If you're still here I have a question.

I am going to put a ups/generator for my home next to my box. I need a foundation for it to sit on. I'm sure you've seen these before. it's a huge battery and generator that runs on gas, oil, fuel in case power goes out.

My question is something that small should be fine for a DIY. anything in particular I need to be aware of other than typical?

Lupiyo2 karma

if it's a 3x3 you can do it with bags. if it's bigger it will be a HUGE pain in the ass to do by bag. order a load from a plant if it's bigget.

Arektoteles1 karma

Hello sir, would you be able to build your own concrete house (with help from friends and architects, but with no one that knows too much about concrete)?

Lupiyo2 karma

Depends on the size. A decent sized one no.

codedigger1 karma

What is the best way to cure concrete to maximize strength? Interlocked rebar or steel mesh to reinforce driveway pavement?

Lupiyo1 karma

we use both always! mesh throughout slab and rebar/steel in grade beams and footings

kennykenmart1 karma

My lord, four guys on the hose??? My advice; work smarter not harder. Have the operator lay the hose down and just like sex put it in fast and then draaag it out.

Lupiyo1 karma

It reached out as far as it could (200ft) and couldn't go any lower. Rather do that than break our backs hauling dry ass concrete with the rake. We only did it to reach out as far as possible.

QuickBow1 karma

What's the largest pouring you've done?

Lupiyo5 karma

20,000 yards in a day with a group of 13 guys

boss-hoss1 karma

20,000?! What for? A dam?

Lupiyo3 karma

several apartment slabs side by side it's sqft btw

PieterPlopplop0 karma

So you work with concrete, huh?

Lupiyo4 karma

Just a tad bit :P