Step up to the mark

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Another busy time last week. After doing two jobs on Monday and Tuesday I thought that would be the end of my electrical work for the week and indeed I had earned enough to be satisfied by then. However things changed and I found I had two more jobs come my way on Friday which I naturally took on board. I had plenty of time on Wednesday and Thursday as well as Saturday (as I write this) to carry on with work at home. Currently I have been altering the steps in the boiler room by the door which leads out to the garden. I had completed the other step which leads out of the room to the cellar hallway a few days previous. The two steps leading out into the garden are being converted into three steps to make the risers less high and therefore easier to use especially for E who has to use a walking stick most of the time. The first thing I had to do, which I did some days ago, was to construct another step using bricks as a wall and filling the space with rubble and concrete. On Thursday morning I made a wood frame to surround that step and poured or rather trowelled a screed mix (concrete but using granite chippings in place of stones which make the mix smoother) onto and around the step. I removed the wood frame on Friday afternoon to allow the screed to dry out completely so that I could carry out the same procedure on the step above, the original step that was too high, to make it longer and to top it off. This would make the dimensions of both steps the same. The final step is the threshold itself which didn’t need altering.Steps You can see in the picture the now dried out step at the base and the top step levelled out with still wet screed inside the wooden shuttering. I have used bricks and stones to keep the shuttering in place as there isn’t a great deal of pressure on it from the cement screed. For larger works I would have screwed battens to the walls and floor to contain the wooden shuttering and in fact whilst I was constructing the round step across the room I held the screed in place with stiff plastic that had been held in place with battens at each end. This work is very simple to do, the hardest bit is mixing the concrete or screed by hand! When I constructed the round step I had to use a lot of concrete and screed so I employed the use of the mixer but for this smaller set of steps that wasn’t worth doing. You can see the concrete step that forms the threshold under the door. That simply needs facing off in places to fill some holes that are there, especially near the bottom but I can’t do that until the screed is set hard, which will be tomorrow, Sunday afternoon as I write this. E wants to paint the steps when I have finished. I have yet to make up my mind about what I am going to do with some of the drain pipes but I think I will be choosing the easier option! My next major project is to level the floor in the room we hope to convert into a garden toilet but I have to remove half of the existing floor tiles first. They are laid directly onto compressed sand. I have already done some of that work some weeks ago but as you know other things have taken precedence. No rush though.

Shirley Anne

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6 responses

  1. Silly me, I thought cement work and concrete used the water in the mix to chemically set. The Romans, the blokes not a chapter in your favourite book, found a way to make concrete which could make harbours under water, no drying involved…

  2. I removed the wood frame on Friday afternoon to allow the screed to dry out completely

    Shirley says “let the concrete dry. Caroline says ” concrete sets” water is chemically bound to the cement to make a solid.

    If it is wet I was suggesting too much water… Beings Devil’s advocate, am I allowed to use Devil?

  3. You can call yourself anything you wish my dear. I think you were being as you say the devil’s advocate. Water is needed for the chemical reaction to take place. There is no such thing as concrete setting if no water is present, it would simply be three components all mixed together but remaining loose. I should have said ‘allow the water to evaporate or dry out’ perhaps but most people would have understand what I meant. You also need the water to make the cement/concrete/screed easier to spread and smooth out, in fact if there is water floating on the top after it is laid it aids levelling. Too much water makes the concrete useless, too little makes it extremely hard to lay. It also aids bonding by allowing the mix to get into the nooks and crannies of the surface over which it is laid. Now am I being the devil’s advocate Caroline?

    Shirley Anne x