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Posted by MacArthur in Nampa, ID on 5/26/2008

Finally, on Friday May 23rd, we poured the concrete in the walls, only a week or two behind what I expected a month ago!! The pour went without a hitch, except for concrete quantity. I estimated we needed about 44 yards, so we ordered 46 to be on the safe side. As fate would have it, we were finished at 40 yards. Ouch! 6 yards ordered and delivered that had to go back to the plant. When I reviewed my calculations and refined them down to the inch of wall length minus exact door and window opening sizes, I still ended up with an estimate of 41.5 yards. All I can figure is there is a fair amount of air trapped in the concrete. A check of the areas below the windows and the corners and tees the next day revealed no voids, so I'm confident the concrete is solid all around.

Once again we found ourselves under the gun timewise to get ready to pour on Friday. I wanted to do it Friday so that we could take advantage of the long weekend for it to cure before we return to work on Tuesday.

The oversize corner blocks created a problem in getting the top course of blocks in place, particularly on one wall that is 12' long. The two corners tipped in toward each other to the point that the distance between them was 1" less at the top than at the bottom. After forcefully moving the corners back with the alignment braces, I got the difference down to 1/4" - and was able to force-fit the top course of blocks.

When I was checking the height of the walls all around, to determine how much we would have to trim to bring them all level, we found out the top of wall elevation midway between corners was such that all the pre-cut interior studs would have to be trimmed, or the wall plate made thicker. This was so the truss bottoms would match the outside walls and the tops of the interior walls. What to do? Based on some discussion on, I looked on the Web for some metal angles to put on top of the wall. I decided we could set the metal level all around at the correct height and trowel the concrete to that level. After some searching, I found that 2 1/2" steel studs exist and the tracks into which they are fastened is a channel 2 1/2" wide, the same as the form foam. We placed the channels all around the top of the wall, leveling them with blocks in the top course, cut to the exact height needed. Worked good, except they're proving to be a pain to remove, now that the concrete has set up! I checked it out on Saturday.

A significant last-minute change was the master-bath glass-block window opening. When we went to install ICFVL connectors in the wall as anchor points for future grab bars around the toilet, we discovered a real interference with the window location. After thinking about it overnight, I decided to bite the bullet and move the opening two feet to the right. Consumed about three hours on Thursday, and we were committed to pouring on Friday!


Typical view of alignment bracing system in place with scaffold planks. Sure is a good thing OSHA doesn't focus on small DIY projects! The scaffolding would never pass muster!
The 2 1/2" channel installed on top of the forms. This is above the patio door. You can see the rebar system with stirrups, or hairpins, supporting a rebar just above the opening.
View of the SW corner of the house after the pour. There were no leaks, blowouts, or deformed bucks in the openings. All our work getting ready kept disaster at bay.
I attached a block to the top of the story pole for checking the top of wall elevation. I used a form block cut exactly in half with a short piece of channel on top to check the height. I then cut an ICF block the right height to support the channel at the desired elevation. I did this at the ends of the channel and used half-sized blocks, which were lesser height, in between. This way I could utilize one full form block in two pieces and still have a top of wall level and at the correct elevation. Nearly all of the walls were "bathtub" shaped, high at the corners and up to 1/2" lower midway. Full-sized forms cut exactly in half did not provide the height needed, so leftover pieces were cut to the right height and placed to support the channel ends and middle.
Before the pour. This is the wall that in an earlier post I discuss how I straightened out the snake curve in the foundation wall portion. Looks good, don't you agree?
After the pour. The metal channels are turning out to be stuck pretty good between the concrete and foam and ain't comin' out easy!
Garage doors before the bucks and lintel forms are in place. Notice the blue foam on the buck lying on the floor. That's sill seal that we put on the concrete side of all the bucks to keep the concrete away from contacting the wood. Not sure it's foolproof but considering our dry climate I decided it was good enough.
Garage door after the pour. This is typical of how we did the bracing of the bucks. We put both vertical and horizontal braces about every 2' to 3'. There was no sagging or bowing of the bucks anywhere. The two ICFVL connectors above the door are for the door-spring center anchor and the anchor for the opener track.
Master-bath glass-block window opening after moving it 2' to the right. The big OSB scab on the left (there's one on the outside also) is to cover the joint where I simply moved the blocks pieces I cut out from the right over to the left. I wasn't about to dismantle and restack the wall! It all held together during the pour.
The bedroom south wall had a crook in it right above one of the windows and between two upright braces. We fixed up extra bracing to pull the wall in. That's two 2x6's on the inside with all threads going to a piece of LVL board on the outside. We cinched them down real tight and sucked the wall in pretty darn straight. Won't move ever again after the concrete has cured, that's for sure!
Outside view of the brace above.
One of two patches we needed to repair holes in the wall. This was about 4" wide by 10" high. That's a piece of 2x12 with an all thread going through the wall and a 2x4 on the inside. To keep from leaving the all-thread in after the concrete cures, I sleeved it with 1/2" poly tube. I'll pull it out in a day or two and fill the poly tube with foam.
Another hole repair. This is a piece of subflooring covering a 4" by 20" hole. I cut it deliberately to remove some excess canned foam I blew in the wall filling in some gaps between blocks. I guess I was trigger happy with the foam gun.
Inside end of the patch above. The bedroom hole patch was basically the same.
This was the high corner in the garage. I trimmed the inside of the form to the desired elevation, and the concrete finisher leveled to it. I'll cut the outer side off before we put the sill plate down.
This is the kitchen/garage wall. You can see how the outer side of the form goes from concrete level to about 1/2" above at the corner. This is in a distance of about 14'. How much of this was caused by the oversized corner blocks? And how much was caused by the footing concrete not being perfectly level? I do not know. Most of the rest of the garage wall was within 1/8" of the reference corner, so I did very little trimming elsewhere, except for the other front corner, which I trimmed about 1/4" for a couple of feet or so each way from the corner.
Here's the 12' wall I had a struggle with. The corners tilted in toward each other to the tune of 1". This was definitely caused by the oversize corner blocks. By forcing the corners plumb, I was able to get the requisite length of blocks in at the top.
To check the straightness of the wall, we used a string line against the vertical alignment braces. In some cases, we had to pull the wall back an excess amount, and then push the brace against it to keep the brace snug against the form.
Lesson learned! Silicone lube doesn't harm polystyrene, but the carrier it's in sure can! I gave Tom a new can of Liquid Wrench Silicone spray to lube the 3/4" conduit before pushing it down the corner holes in the the forms. We had used a different brand of spray silicone lube in the foundation wall with no problem, but that can was empty now. This time though, the spray lube dissolved the foam down about 8" to 12" before being rubbed off to a harmless level. Checking the can, I discovered there was a fair amount of petroleum distillate in the lube, which is not good for foam!

Posted by Michael in Cave Creek, AZ on 4/2/2010
2006, 2009, 2010 Merit Award Winner
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I wanted to add some thoughts about accurately estimating the amount of concrete required for a pour.  It is important to get the right amount without going over.

The formula seem simple. Width(feet) x Length(feet) x Height(feet) /27= Yards of Concrete

So you can just find the volume of your pour and order accordingly, but sometimes the trenches are a little wide and the sub-grade is a little low. So you order more just to be sure you have enough. The art is in knowing how much more to avoid running short or wasting material.  

When pouring walls using forms, I would certainly deduct for all of the major openings like the doors and the windows. If the forms are ICF, there is probably a bit more of a deduct for things like webs and radii in the foam forms, but there may be a need to add for bulges or a minor blow out. I would not know how much, unless I had specific experience with the brand of ICF being used..

If I estimated that I need 5 trucks to do the whole pour, I would use the experience from the first 3 or 4 trucks and call the dispatcher at the batch plant to tell him how many yards the last load should be based on what percentage of the forms were filled by the previous trucks.

If concrete from the batch plant runs $100 per yard and the delivery charge for a short load is also $100 per trip, I would make sure my calculations were tight enough so that I'm not more than a yard over, even at the risk of running short and needing to order a one yard load.

I would also consider having some forms made to pour a few minor concrete pads in case there was a little extra material at the end.

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