Building from the Ground Up!

Cement 5 (1)

Written by: Bernard Beronio

Pouring a concrete slab was one of the community service projects that we undertook at Siempre Verde Lodge in Mastatal.  I took interest in the concrete floor making because I wanted to learn the process of it, what materials are needed, and how long it usually takes to finish concrete flooring.  I did not have prior knowledge or experience in this type of work, so I wanted to try something out of my comfort zone.  Overall, I enjoyed the experience and I learned that mixing and pourting a concrete slab/floor was truly hard work.

The main ingredients to make concrete are water, aggregate (sand, rocks, and gravel), and cement mix.  Felicia, Tim, Rodrigo, Gil the Mastatal volunteer, and I had to transport gravel approximately 75 yards to the mixing site.  We put the gravel in bags and used a wheelbarrow to carry them to the site.  We needed thirty bags of gravel and 100 pounds of cement.  Then we had to mix the gravel and the cement thoroughly by a method called “stick and flip.”  Stick the shovel in the mix and flip it on the other side of the original pile to make a new pile.  This was done three times until the gravel and cement were mixed properly.  Next, the pile was made into a “volcano” and it was filled with water.  Then, we dug up from the sides of the mix and placed it around the brim of the volcano hole.  This was part of the process, so the mix can absorb the water.  After the water was covered by the mix, we had to stick and flip again.  The previous step was done again.Cement 4 (1)

The concrete was placed in the wheelbarrow and more water was added.  It was mixed until the concrete was really thick.  The concrete was placed on the ground and we started layering it.  We took note that the upper part of the flooring should be sloped, so if it rains the water will drain properly.  The measurements had to be exact and precise.  I found out that it took two and a half hours just to create a patch of flooring.  At this point my back was aching, but at the end of the day each of us had a smile on our face.  We are fortunate to have experts who are passionate this type of work, and I fully appreciate it because people who take things for granted think flooring appears out of nowhere.  In reality, there are people who dedicate their time, effort, and work hard to provide us with flooring, walls, homes, etc.