Concrete finishers place, finish, protect and repair concrete surfaces. They work on a variety of vertical and horizontal surfaces such as concrete floors, walls, sidewalks, stairs, driveways, curbs and gutters, and overlays. They work on many types of structures such as buildings, dams, bridges and tunnels. They also texture, chip, grind and cure finished concrete work and repair and restore damaged concrete. They apply architectural finishes to concrete surfaces such as exposed aggregate, acid-stained, patterned-stamped, broomed, smooth finishes and etched concrete surfaces. They install expansion and contraction joints and install fixtures such as anchor bolts, steel plates and other embedments. They also apply membranes and other waterproofing products to concrete. Concrete finishers must possess a sound knowledge of the properties of various types of concrete mixes and how proportions, additives and curing affect concrete strength and durability. Materials that concrete finishers work with include concrete, grouts, chemical-curing compounds, exotics, epoxies, polyurethanes and acrylics. Concrete finishers should have a basic knowledge of constructing formwork, preparing subgrades and installing reinforcement.
Much of concrete placing and finishing has become mechanized with power screeds, power trowels, mechanical vibrators and pumps. Hand trowelling is still required for small jobs and to finish hard-to-reach spots in corners, edges, stairs and around obstacles such as pipes.
Concrete finishers work in the construction sector in both indoor and outdoor conditions. Outdoor work is weather-dependant and there may be less work available in the winter. Conversely, overtime is often required when the weather demands it.
Specialization in this trade is common. Concrete finishers specialize in working with specific materials such as coloured concrete, exposed aggregates and various epoxies, or specific techniques such as diamond-polishing concrete, power trowelling, and finishing curbs and gutters.
Key attributes for people entering this trade are stamina, spatial perception and hand-eye coordination. Creative and artistic skills are also helpful in this trade. Some physical activities of this trade are heavy lifting, climbing, balancing, bending, kneeling, crouching, crawling and reaching.
Concrete finishers work with a variety of other tradespeople. Heavy equipment operators may prepare the sub-base for concrete, ironworkers may prepare and place the reinforcing material and carpenters may place the formwork. Concrete finishers inspect this work and ensure that it is suitable for receiving the concrete. They also interact with plumbers and electricians when pipes and conduits are embedded in the concrete.
With experience, concrete finishers may move into supervisory, management or instructing roles.
For more information, see Red Seal Trades – Concrete Finisher