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On freshly poured concrete sidewalk worker holds steel trowel in process of smoothing it leveling

What is Concrete Troweling & How to do it

After concrete has been poured, floated, and cured for a while, it needs to be troweled. Troweling is the finishing process that creates a smooth, flat surface for your concrete form. Troweling is an art, and there are many ways to trowel a slab of concrete. Knowing which tools to use and when to select each type of tool for your concrete project is important.

As a contractor, you'll be faced with the choice of whether to trowel with a hand tool, or trowel with a machine. Troweling machines come in different varieties as well - smaller trowels that are pushed, and larger trowels that are ridden. Making the right decision for your project requires you to understand all the options in-depth.

When to Start Troweling?

It's time to trowel when the concrete has hardened some but is still wet enough to be manipulated. Most contractors say that you can test your concrete to see if it's ready for troweling by stepping on the concrete. If your boot sinks into the concrete only 1/8 of an inch and doesn't stick to your boot, then it's ready to be troweled.

Hand Trowel Vs. Machine

There are many benefits to using hand trowels, and many benefits to using machines. Experienced contractors will choose the tool based on the size of the project and their comfort level with each tool. Often, contractors use hand trowels for small projects and machines for larger concrete pours.

Benefits of Hand Trowel

Hand trowels are simple tools that are laid atop the concrete and moved by the contractor to subtly shift and level the concrete, to create a flat surface. Hand trowels have benefits such as:

  • Low cost. Hand trowels are a low-cost product that contractors can own for a low investment. It is easy for contractors to own multiple hand trowels, so they can choose the best one for their current project. They also do not require costly maintenance.
  • Quiet operation, no exhaust. Hand trowels use the power of the contractor to operate, and thus have no motors and emit no exhaust. Contractors can complete the entire project without any concern about exhaust fumes and proper ventilation, and so on.
  • Easy maintenance. Cleaning a hand trowel following a project is relatively easy.

Benefits of Power Trowel

Power trowels can be ridden (called ride on trowels) or pushed, and are available for purchase or rent. Power trowels have benefits such as:

  • Save time. Power trowels are able to cover large areas with relative speed, and overall require less effort from the contractor to do so.
  • Better for larger areas. Covering a large area with a hand trowel can be challenging for a contractor while using a power trowel makes covering a larger area easier overall.
  • More consistency. Power trowels have rotating blades that are designed to create a consistent finish over concrete. Hand troweling is less consistent because it's done by a person, not a machine.
  • Less physically demanding. Hand troweling is a physically demanding job while using the machine is not as demanding.

Both of these tools require skills to operate. Contractors get better at hand troweling as time goes on, and they continue to do this task again and again. Meanwhile, operating a power trowel requires training for proper use.

Types of Toweling Machines

If you're a contractor finishing a project, there are two types of trowel machines that you may consider to get the job done. These two types of machines have pros and cons. Selecting the right one for your project can save you time and trouble.

Power Trowel

A power trowel is a device that's directed by hand, used by an individual while they stand at the trowel and move it across the concrete. Power trowels use rotating blades to create a high level of finish at a relatively quick pace. Power trowels can be run on electricity or gasoline. These trowels are frequently used for medium jobs (not too big and not too small) for finishing concrete.

Ride On Trowel

A ride-on trowel is another machine that uses rotating blades to create a smooth finish (similar to a power trowel). Unlike regular power trowels, ride-on trowels are ridden by the user. Because they're so large, ride-on trowels are a preferred tool for finishing large jobs (like industrial complexes). Ride-on trowels can get the job done quickly and efficiently.

How to Choose the Right Towel for Your Project

Choosing the right trowel for your project is a challenge if you're not used to working with concrete. While you're picking the best trowel for your project, take into consideration the trowel's size and cost, and your project budget. Keep in mind that power trowels can be rented, but bigger trowels aren't the solution for every job. Small slabs are most easily troweled by hand.

Regardless of the type of trowel, it's important to have training to use the product of your choice. Keep in mind that power trowels and ride-on trowels require safety knowledge, as failure to follow safety procedures can result in job site injuries. If you're renting your equipment, the renter should include all safety information needed with your rental. The company you rent the trowel from may also be able to provide you with a quick safety tutorial.

Why Choose Discount Contractor Supply for Concrete Troweling Supplies

At Discount Contractor Supply, we sell a number of concrete supplies, including concrete trowels and concrete finishing tools. We also sell troweling machine blades and pans for contractors and DIYers who use troweling machines for their concrete finishing projects. Contractors and DIYers alike choose us because we sell a range of useful tools for your construction and home remodeling projects.

We offer excellent customer service and a streamlined purchase process, to keep your projects on task. We believe that securing the tools for your projects shouldn't break the bank. Contact us today to order your concrete troweling tools, or other tools for your upcoming construction project.

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