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Posted by Mary in PA on 10/9/2010

The shop will have a concrete slab – and when I say that… I mean a concrete slab. Not some wimpy thin crust of Portland over dirt. Oh no! We’re talking a hulking mass of 5” thick, 4,000-psi concrete placed over more rebar than you can shake a stick at! All kidding aside, the slab is an exciting thing because it is a big step in making the interior space usable. In the background of our other work on site, John has researched concrete specs and how-to info, and we’ve been sourcing and buying the slab materials for quite some time.


We found a local low-cost supplier of rebar. Similar to our plumbing supplies, this vendor has a no-frills setup on his farm. He specializes in rebar and associated tools and materials. John planned out the rebar schedule and got contractor pricing on the materials. A satisfying deal, since the same purchase at the big-box store would have cost ~37% more. The chairs that hold the rebar in the middle of the slab (see photos) were purchased many months ago, and were a lucky find at a building-materials auction and purchased for literally just a few bucks.


While the excavator did the finish grading, he also dumped self-compacting stone inside the building. Two men spread the stone, checked it for level and even carved out a 2’ wide by 2” deep section of stone at the perimeter of the building. This would account for the rigid under-slab insulation we planned to use at the edges of the building. And then came our turn, which has taken the better part of several long weekends to complete. John did the lion’s share of this work, as I was busy on a deadline with the architect (for future house). John transported the materials, laid out the vapor barrier, set down the rebar grid and built the forms at each doorway. I worked on finishing the slab-edge insulation detail at the 12x12 door. Oddly enough, this required yet again more tamping – which I thought I was forever finished with when the stone went in. I think John saved that job just for me.  ;-)


After the rebar grid was laid out, each piece had to be tied together and to a chair using a metal wire. Pre-cut metal wires with loops on the end are made for this purpose. They come three gauges: light, medium and heavy duty. John, being John, bought the heavy duty ties that I’m pretty sure are rated for construction projects like the Golden Gate Bridge. And when I offered to continue tying the rebar while John made some of the custom bends we needed, I found out just how hard that work is. It was nearly impossible for me to use this little tie-tool thingy to twist the wire around the rebar. After awhile, and some well-timed whining, John took pity on me and let me use a lighter-gauge roll of wire. I had to cut each piece by hand in order to wrap them, but is still was much easier overall than using the heavy-duty stuff.


Prepping the slab has been a lot of work, some of it quite tedious, but hopefully it will be worth it in savings and producing a quality job.


Load up rebar...
...and insulation, then to site.
Excavator moves stone in.
Stone in, view of half bath.
2' wide 2" carve-out for insulation.
Insulation going in. Wall rebar will be bent down and tied into rebar grid.
12x12 door form and slab-edge insulation.
Vapor barrier goes in.
Chairs on display.
Starting the rebar grid.
Bending rebar. BTW: John knows the flame is misadjusted, but he did that for the photo op. ;-)
Mary slaves over rebar tying.

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