Cement is one of the most durable materials you can use to create a floor. A cement floor is often used in the home where there will be heavy traffic, wetness or as a stable base for other floorings, such as ceramic tiles. In some cases, cement is used in home areas where the ground is currently soil.
Step 1 - Preparation
Preparation is the key to laying a cement floor that will not break over time. A permit may be required to ensure that the floor meets the building and inspection codes. If the cement will be used as a base for ceramic tile, a clean, dry subfloor will provide enough support for this pad. A check of the beams and joists will be needed to ensure that the weight of the cement can be supported by the structure. If the cement is to be poured onto bare ground, additional preparation will be needed. The area will need to be excavated to a level that will support different layers. In areas where the climate can be cold, this level may need to be below the frost line. Generally, an interior cement floor will be three to four inches thick. In addition, a one inch base of sand is required to provide a level surface on the ground
Step 2 – Building the Base
Before the pouring of the cement, the base will need to be created of additional materials to support the cement pad and prevent it from shifting. If a form is needed, then this should be built first around the perimeter of the base. This form can be prefabricated metal or a series of 2 x 6-inch wood planks. Once the form is built, layers of the base material can be put down. The layers can range from an inch of sand to individual layers of gravel, sand and a vapor barrier to keep out the moisture. A check of the local building codes will provide what layers will be needed for proper support of the floor. In most cases, a layer of gravel will be used to provide a lower base. This material is to be compacted to form a hard surface for the sand or vapor barrier. Once this middle layer is put down, the cement can be poured.
Step 3 – Pouring the cement.
For smaller floors with a thin layer, purchasing bags of prepared cement will be sufficient for the task. In the case of larger floors over larger square footage, pre-mixed cement can be purchased by the truckload which will be easier than hand mixing a large number of bags of cement. The floor can be poured into two layers, as cement comes in different forms. A mix of cement with gravel can be used for the lower level to form a strong base. Once this dries, a thinner sandy mix can be used to level the cement and provides a smoother surface for the floor.