The quality of a concrete finish is greatly influenced by the steps you take to prepare for a concrete pour. When you take the time to properly prepare wood forms for pouring concrete and use the appropriate methods, you can expect a smooth surface on the concrete and fewer issues with concrete sticking to the wood forms. There are several ways to prevent these kinds of sticky situations, from plastic sheeting to release agents. Here’s everything you need to know about how to keep concrete from sticking to wood forms and the best tips for prepping before pouring concrete.
What Causes Concrete to Stick to Wood Forms?
Concrete can stick to wood forms due to several reasons, including moisture content, rough surfaces, and incomplete or improper processes. When you use wood forms for concrete pours, the wood can absorb some of the moisture in the concrete mix. This can cause the wood to expand and the concrete more likely to stick to the forms. The wood forms also need a smooth surface and proper cleaning before pouring concrete. If the wood surface is rough or dirty, it can result in fresh concrete sticking to the forms. Any type of dirt, debris, or leftover concrete from a previous pour can create friction or impact the concrete curing process. An improper concrete mix with a high water-to-cement ratio can also cause the concrete to stick to the wood forms. It is important to address these kinds of issues and work to prevent concrete from sticking to wood forms. This will ensure a smooth and even finish for the concrete surface.
How to Keep Concrete from Sticking to Wood Forms
There are many ways to keep concrete from sticking to wood forms, including plastic sheeting, concrete form liners, and a thorough cleaning process between pours. There are also various types of release and barrier agents to consider that can also help keep concrete from sticking to wood forms in a variety of contexts. Release agents are chemical solutions that create a thin barrier or film between the concrete and wood forms. Consider these four different options of using a form release agent that gets applied to wood forms to prevent concrete from sticking.
Use Oil-Based Release Agents
Oil-based release agents are commonly used in the construction industry for a variety of concrete pours. Use oil-based release agents to prevent concrete from sticking to wood forms because of its long-lasting barrier protection between the concrete and wood. Oil-based release agents are highly effective in reducing the need for frequent reapplication. Other advantages of oil-based release agents include affordability and versatility, as this type of release agent can be used on a variety of rough and porous wood surfaces. Some disadvantages to oil-based release agents to consider, including the flammability and difficult cleanup process.
Use Water-Based Release Agents
Water-based release agents have become increasingly popular in the construction industry due to how easy this type of release agent is to use. When using water-based release agents, they can be easily cleaned up using soap and water and do not leave behind any oil or residue. Water-based release agents are also more environmentally friendly and typically contain little or no volatile organic compounds. A few disadvantages of water-based release agents include the shorter lifespan and reduced effectiveness in low temperatures because the water may freeze and become unusable until thawed.
Use Reactive Release Agents
Reactive release agents are a specific type of release agent that reacts to the alkaline in the concrete to form a barrier between the concrete and wood forms. Reactive release agents are highly effective in keeping concrete from sticking to wood forms and offer a long-lasting barrier that reduces the need for frequent reapplication. When using reactive release agents, there are no environmental concerns and no use of harmful chemicals. However, reactive release agents are typically more expensive than their counterparts and may not be readily available in all areas.
How to Prepare Your Wood Forms for Pouring Concrete
Here are a few tips on how to prepare your wood forms for pouring concrete to ensure a successful project:
- Clean the forms properly between each use
- Apply the proper release agent for the project
- Seal the edges of wood forms evenly
- Reinforce wood forms as needed
- Double-check the forms before each use
Make Sure to Clean Wood Forms After Use!
One of the best ways you can ensure a successful and durable concrete pour is by cleaning the wood forms after each use. Prepping the wood before a concrete pour and cleaning the forms afterward help maintain the integrity of the project as well as the forms for current and future projects. Remove any excess concrete as possible to prevent any interference with the next pour. Inspect the wood forms for any signs of wear and tear or damage to make sure they are in good working condition. To ensure the effectiveness of wood forms for the next project, always store wood forms in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and moisture.
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