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Construction fun facts: pouring a concrete yard

Amy Bourne |

Pouring concrete is probably pretty routine for those who do it day in and day out. But to the layperson who’s never touched the stuff, it looks kind of treacherous…and messy….and, well, fun. (Caution: for those who work in concrete this article may be boring, and even different from what you know—so feel free to ‘Leave A Reply’ at the bottom of the page!)

Usually the first step in pouring concrete is to figure how big a slab you’ll need, since—guess what!—that determines how much wet concrete you need to mix or buy to pour a “concrete yard”.

Ready Mix concrete is sold by the cubic yard, and quantities of concrete are usually talked about in yards, but it’s fine to start by measuring the length, width and height (or depth) of your desired slab in feet and inches.

You would start by measuring the space in feet and converting inches to decimals (for example, 12 feet and 6 inches becomes 12.5 feet). You would then multiply L x W x H to get the cubic feet. Finally, you would divide this by 27 to convert it into yards!

One Fun Concrete Term: “Bull-Floating” – After the screeding is done, in which a “screed board” made of wood or an aluminum tool is pulled across the freshly-poured concrete to flatten it out and level it with the forms (the wooden shape holding the concrete in place), bull-floating is done. A bull-float is an object not unlike a Swiffer, except made of wood or metal, which is pulled systematically over the poured and screeded concrete to pack down any inconsistencies. This is part of the finishing process.

Want to learn more? A couple of good concrete resources:



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Amy Bourne is the marketing copywriter for ExakTime. She enjoys learning about the real challenges faced in the construction-related field, and providing content that helps business owners work smarter.

11 responses to “Construction fun facts: pouring a concrete yard

  1. I loved how I was able to add “Bull-Floating” to my vocabulary! My wife and I are currently remodeling our house and need some concrete work done. Your blog will help my wife and I out a lot with our concrete work.

  2. I agree that you should first figure out how big of a slab of concrete you need before pouring it! You also said that ready mix concrete is sold by the cubic yard. I think it’s important to choose a concrete contractor that has a professional-looking website that also has a great photo gallery of their best work.

  3. Thanks for your post! I do think it is cool to learn a little about how concrete is poured. This is partly because I am going to have to pour some to fix my back steps. However, considering that bull floating is used to pack down the concrete, is more concrete sometimes needed to fill in low spots?

    1. Hi Jesse! We knew enough to write that short post, but we’re no experts on concrete pouring here by a far stretch–just lay people with some basic knowledge (time tracking is our specialty). Before you even get to bull-floating or smoothing it out, you should have already poured enough concrete so that the top is level with the form you’ve built “across the board”.

      But don’t listen to us! Here are a couple of resources with expert information:


      Best of luck!

  4. You said that it might look messy for someone who hasn’t ever dealt with concrete. Maybe I should hire a professional to help me when I need new concrete. It might be a good idea to do some research so you can find the right company.

    1. John, thanks for your comment about how hiring a professional would help you with all your concrete needs. I also agree with the article that researching companies can lead you in finding the best one for you. My husband is considering looking into concrete contractors to help in our home renovation. http://www.joslinconcrete.com/services

    1. Hi John,

      Glad you found the article interesting! We are by no means concrete experts so it was fun to learn something too. Best of luck with your new build!!!

      The ExakTime Team


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