You will want to have a basic set of concrete tools on hand for any home improvement project that involves laying concrete. Here is a list of basic, must-have tools .
Straightedges can be made of a metal like aluminum or magnesium. While a piece of 2 by 4 lumber can be used, lumber has a tendency to warp, especially if it is not pressure treated to resist moisture. Also, wood straightedges can quickly accumulate excess concrete, although on many construction sites, it is easy enough to pick up another piece of straight lumber to replace a damaged one.
Aluminum and magnesium are great materials for metal straightedges because they resist rusting, plus they are lighter than wood and do not bow or warp. Look for a metal straightedge with a built-in level, which allows for easy gauging of the slope of a concrete slab.
Floats are used to level, smooth surfaces or fill in areas with voids. They are available in a variety of sizes and shapes and often are used to help water percolate to bleed out of laid concrete. Bull floats are used to work large surface areas of concrete, while smaller hand floats are used to work much smaller areas.
The most common floats are made of magnesium, aluminum or wood. It may be necessary to purchase handles for bull floats separately, along with bracket assemblies which allow for easy swiveling or handling of the float over large surface areas.
Trowels are used after a float to finish the slab and create a hard concrete surface. Trowels look very similar to hand floats except they have a thinner blade with an open handle. Trowels are also made almost exclusively of steel, including stainless steel, blue steel and high carbon steel.
Most concrete workers agree that a wide assortment of trowel sizes is helpful in being able to adjust to the various types of concrete applications and settings.
Edgers are used to create smooth joints and to edge the outside perimeter of the concrete slab. They are important in making the slab resistant to edge chipping and breaks. Edgers come in both bronze and steel; bronze edgers being heavier and more expensive than steel edgers.
Fresnos are placed on long extension handles to prevent concrete workers from needing to walk on the concrete slab and mar the concrete. They allow for extremely large concrete surface areas to be finished.
Tampers are an extremely valuable tool if you're doing concrete stamping work. These tools press the concrete down as the pattern is pressed down into the concrete, preventing from tearing or being marred.
A set of concrete tools are considered must-haves for people doing any type of extensive work with concrete. You will want to purchase most tools in a variety of sizes to provide the greatest level of versatility and flexibility when working with concrete.