How To Lay Concrete

Laying concrete is relatively straightforward and in our guide, we show you how to do it without the use of any special tools.
Written By: David White | Updated:
How To Lay Concrete
David White/DIY Works

After making your perfect concrete mix, you’ll want to lay it before it becomes dry and brittle. However, rather than simply pouring it where it needs to be, it’s important that you take your time to prepare the ground. After pouring the concrete onto the ground, you’ll then need to level it off and eliminate any air pockets, as discussed in the tutorial below.

What You’ll Need

  • Concrete
  • Trowel/shovel
  • Durable gloves
  • Damp-proof membrane (optional)
  • Straight-edged timber

How To Lay Concrete

1. Prepare The Ground

Before you lay any concrete, it’s crucial that the ground has been prepared beforehand. This will involve removing any debris and also putting down a damp-proof membrane in order to prevent rising damp.

In terms of which damp-proof membrane to use on a concrete floor, it’s recommended that its made from a durable polyethylene, which will be available in many different gauges.

Another aspect to consider when preparing the ground is where you want the concrete to be laid. For example, you may wish to section off certain areas of the ground using some timber because this will allow you to achieve straight edges. Once the concrete has set (24 to 48 hours), you’ll then be able to remove the timber used to create the edges.

2. Pour The Concrete

When it comes to pouring the concrete onto the ground, you’ll want to try to distribute it evenly as you pour it because this will avoid the effort of moving it around on the floor. It’s also crucial that you use the concrete as soon as possible after mixing it up because if not, it’ll go dry and become unusable.

If you were unable to distribute the concrete evenly, you’ll need to push it across. Depending on how large the area is, you may be able to use a straight-edged piece of timber or trowel to move the concrete to where it needs to be, but if not, you can use a shovel. Whilst moving the concrete, ensure that you don’t dig too deep because you may run the risk of piercing the damp-proof membrane.

how to lay damp proof membrane concrete floor

David White/DIY Works

3. Eliminate Air Pockets

After laying the concrete, you’ll need to eliminate any air pockets because trapped air can be problematic once it dries. To get rid of any trapped air, you’ll need to tamp down the wet concrete using a straight-edged piece of timber.

4. Make It Level

Once you are happy that all the trapped air has been removed, you can then proceed to make the concrete level. This can be achieved by using the same piece of timber and running it across the surface, as shown in the images below.

In this particular DIY project, we laid a self-levelling compound on top of the concrete, which meant that it didn’t have to be perfect. However, we still ensured that it was as flat as possible using straight-edged timber.

how to lay a concrete floor

David White/DIY Works
how to lay concrete base

David White/DIY Works

5. Allow The Concrete To Dry

After you’ve laid the concrete, it’s crucial that you give it enough time to cure, and this can take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. However, for the concrete to be at its strongest, it can take up to a week. Therefore, if you plan to do any additional work on top of the concrete, we would recommend waiting at least a week for complete peace of mind.


As you can see from the above guide on how to lay concrete, it really isn’t that difficult, and it also doesn’t require any special tools. The hardest part of the whole process is usually making the concrete in the first place. However, if you want to skip that stage, you can use a “ready to use” product that only requires water and mixing together.

To ensure that your concrete project is a success, we would highly recommend asking someone for a helping hand. This is because once the concrete has been made, it’s a race against the clock to get it laid before it dries out.

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