Alright, I finally have a completed project to show ya'll. You may remember I started on this one some time back when I first laid this little block knee wall. That was in preparation for this. I backfilled behind the wall with gravel and also filled all the cells of the block with gravel except for the cells in which I had drilled the floor and driven rebar vertically, to help tie the wall to the floor. Those cells I filled with concrete. I then formed this little slab on top of the wall. You will see that I have put a vapor barrier down under the wire. If you ever pour a slab in an area that might ever, ever be enclosed, you need to put a vapor barrier down or you can have moisture issues later. Since this is in an enclosed basement I always put poly down. Say you pour a concrete patio out back and in your wildest fantasies think maybe you might one day make it into a sun room or such; put a vapor barrier down! It is cheap and will save you much if you do ever enclose the area on the slab. This little slab is only two inches thick but will be fine for the shelves I want to put here. I always put wire or rebar or some reinforcing in my slabs also. Welded wire is great and this is some I had scavenged off a job a couple of years ago.
I just happen to have a bit of plyform which I ripped down to make the edge form. Plyform is simply a high grade 3/4" plywood that has been treated with a release agent so that it will not fall apart because it absorbed water off the concrete and will release after the concrete cures without pulling chunks out of the slab edge when you wreck it off. I highly recommend the stuff if you are pouring anything that will show after it is finished. If you can't get it then an alternative is just to spray regular plywood with motor oil. Works great and is much cheaper than painting the plywood with any type sealer.
After establishing the correct elevation for the top of the plyform on one end, I drilled through the plywood, with a hammer drill, into either a concrete filled cell or into the solid wall of the block, as you can see in these photos. With one end of the form set at the correct height, I simply used a 4' level to get the rest of the form correct or you could pull a string line. The top of your block is not going to be correct all the way, so you don't want to just measure up off that.
I then used my cordless drill with a nut driver to run a Tapcon through the plyform and into the block. Tapcons are wonderful! We use the quite a lot at work. They come in a wide variety of sizes and lengths and can be reused many times. Any time you are attaching something to any masonry product and think you might want to take it back off one day, I would recommend using Tapcons. Now, Tapcon is a brand name but anytime you see these big, bright blue screws with coarse threads, that is what they are. You have to have a hammer drill to use them though; a regular drill, even with a masonry bit, won't hardly drill a proper hole for them.
Thank God I was able to borrow Allen's concrete mixer and mixed my mud for the slab. It went SO much easier than mixing by hand. I'm just getting too old for that crap! I just threw a little 2x4 form up in the back and leveled over to establish a grade line on it. You can pop a chalk line and then drive a few nails partially in, along the line, so you can see your grade after the mud goes in. Since the top of my form on front was on grade, I just ran my screed along the top and made sure the other end was on the nails along the 2x4. When you screed concrete, you kinda saw the board back and forth as you push or pull it along. This gives you a pretty level surface; just make sure you stay on your grade marks!
After you screed it off, smooth the surface with a hand float just enough to seal the holes and lay it down smooth. Then leave it alone!! Let the water come to the top but do not work it back in! you will see when the surface starts tightening up. The water will start disappearing. Go over it once more with the float to smooth it further and then let sit again. You can either broom it or go over it with a trowel to get a slicker finish but this takes much practice.
I also ran an edger along the front edge to give it a nice rounded corner on front. I'll get a picture of this thing one day. They are handy to have if you pour much concrete. So, I let the slab cure for about a week and then wrecked the forms and installed my shelving. This frees up much space in the basement and has made things much more organized. I plan to continue the little wall all the way down and probably add a few more shelves. I also bought a few storage tubs and organizers for my tools and drill bits, etc.
I don't really make New Year's resolutions but one thing I really want to work on here is more organization and storage. Getting the basement in proper order is a big accomplishment and I think will help me greatly. It's especially important now because Jack has brought a number of his tools and such and I want to make room for his stuff and have him feel comfortable. Many people have commented that my house was not built for two people but I think I can make it work. We do need a separate workshop but that's a whole 'nuther project!!