Cement Slab Costs
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As the foundation for a house, a patio or even a driveway, a cement slab can be a great flooring choice for a flat, supportive and durable foundation that is designed to last. However, pricing a cement slab can be tricky, and there are a lot of factors that can influence the final cost. Use this guide to get a better understanding of the pros and cons of cement slabs, how they can be used and what to expect when it comes to professional installation of a concrete slab.
If you feel your house or yard is ready for a cement slab, let us connect you with local masons who can assist you on this complex project.
Table of Contents
- Cement Slab Prices
- Ways to Use A Cement Slab
- Advantages of Cement Slabs
- Disadvantages of Cement Slabs
- What Makes the Concrete Slab Cost Increase?
- What Makes the Concrete Slab Cost Decrease?
- Costs of Professional Cement Slab Installation
- Concrete Delivery
- Determine the Size & Depth of A Cement Slab
- Tools Needed to DIY
- Preparation for the Slab
- Alternatives to Cement
- Find A Pro
Cement Slab Prices
- Average Minimum Cost of A Cement Slab: $5 per square foot
- Average Minimum Cost of A Cement Slab: $19 per square foot
Ways to Use A Cement Slab
Essentially, a cement slab is a flat, solid pouring of cement that is allowed to dry and harden in place. The most common use for a cement slab is as the foundation for a home, and many contractors believe that a cement slab foundation is the most secure option out there for homeowners. However, that is not the only way a cement slab can be used on a residential property. To get a sleek, modern driveway, pouring a cement slab may be a better option than asphalt.
Some homeowners also pour cement slabs to create a patio that is connected to the home itself. In fact, as you can see on our cement patio cost guide, you can stain your cement patio as well. Depending on the color or design, staining can add an extra $4/sf to $10/sf.
Finally, cement is a very popular choice for pool decks. While wood gained some steam over the year, cement and concrete remain the gold standard for backyard surfaces (other than grass).
In the end, anywhere that a solid surface is required, such as a garage, carport or garden shed, a cement slab can work well with a minimal expense.
Advantages of Cement Slabs
Cement slabs are a solid choice for many homeowners, but the biggest reason that this material is chosen as a foundation is because of its relatively low price. Installing a cement slab is significantly cheaper than building a basement or a crawlspace beneath the home, and it is durable enough to last for decades without replacement. It saves homeowners money up front and it requires little maintenance and expense in the future.
Price, however, is not the only reason to strongly consider a cement slab as the home's foundation or as an outdoor patio. Other advantages include the fact that cement is very hard to scratch or dent, it can act as a layer of energy-efficient insulation for the home and the material won't rot or sag like wooden floors do.
Disadvantages of Cement Slabs
While there are clearly plenty of great reasons to choose a cement or concrete slab as a foundation, patio or driveway, there are also some disadvantages that need to be considered.
Some of the biggest drawbacks to using a cement slab are:
- Concrete may need additional covering indoors.
- Exposed cement needs to be frequently sealed.
- Moisture and humidity can cause cracking.
- Exposed cement can be uncomfortable to stand on for long periods.
- A slab may make it difficult to access electrical wires or water pipes.
What Makes the Concrete Slab Cost Increase?
Like every home remodeling project, there are ways to increase and decrease the total price of the project. While extra features, more security and less maintenance are always ideal, those benefits do not come without a cost.
Of course, more materials will almost always increase the total cost. Therefore, if you choose thicker edges, like 6” instead of 4”, expect to pay $1 more per square foot. Furthermore, if your state requires any extra padding below your cement or concrete slab, the cost will go up.
Next, if your deliver your concrete and the truck can’t reach the slab space, they may have to bring a pump truck as well. This will increase your cement slab cost.
Finally, preparation is another big price factor. As you will read below, many obstacles must be completed before the cement can be poured. The more your professional contractor has to do, the higher your cement price will be.
What Makes the Concrete Slab Cost Decrease?
Conversely, there are ways to lower your total concrete slab cost per square foot. As always, if you’re on a tight budget, choose basic materials. Since most cement is the same price (unless you stain it), basic means a thinner product. While an 8” thick cement slab may not look or feel as good as a 4” slab, it could save you $2 per square foot.
Next, as we referenced above, help your contractor out wherever you can. Whether it’s preparing the surface, building the wooden frames or just clearing out your driveway for a cement patio installation, make their lives easier. The faster the project gets done, the lower your cement cost will be.
Finally, the easiest way to save a buck is to complete the project on your own. While the project is not hard, it does need precision to get it done right. Furthermore, there are no second chances. Once that cement hardens, it’s final. Nonetheless, if you are up for the challenge, please check out our friends at DIY Network.
Costs of Professional Cement Slab Installation
If any of this entire process sounds daunting, you’re not alone. Most homeowners hire masonry or concrete pros to add cement slabs to their home. However, since this is a labor-intensive project, the cost of labor will often be significantly more than the cost of the materials themselves. On average, the cost of installing a cement slab can run between $3 and $12 per square foot of space. However, that number may be higher or lower depending on whether the terrain needs extensive work beforehand, the concrete thickness is unusual or the homeowner helped prepare the site.
If you want to complete the project on your own, the next few sections are for you. Once you’ve decided cement is the way to go, you have to figure out how you want to transport it home. While bags of mixable concrete can be purchased from most hardware stores, bigger jobs would require a number of bags not even feasible to transport, much less mix and pour. However, if you’re adding three or four cement slabs as a walkway, chances are, you can purchase the bags and easily transport yourself.
For larger projects, most homeowners hire a company to deliver the concrete. It does come with a cost, but it will still be less than hiring a delivery and masonry company.
Determine the Size & Depth of A Cement Slab
The cost of a cement slab is largely dependent on its size and thickness. In most cases, a cement slab will be 4” thick, with 2” of the cement below ground and 2” being above ground. This thickness is typically sufficient for residential homes in all climates, but there are some instances when a thicker slab may be warranted.
Along with the thickness, you need to decide how much area the slab needs to cover. This step is as simple as measuring the square footage of the intended finished project. Cement tends to be sold by the cubic yard, which covers 27 square feet of ground.
Tools Needed to DIY
Few projects need as many tools and materials for a DIY cement project. While all tools and materials below are not 100% necessary, purchasing all will certainly make your life easier as you conduct almost any masonry project.
- Tape Measure
- Circular Saw
- Roller or Vibrator Compactor
- Pry Bar
- Safety Glasses
- Concrete or Cement
- Crushed Stone
- Forming Lumber
- Tie wire
- Plastic Sheet
- Duplex Nails
Preparation for the Slab
Before the cement slab can be poured onto the desired location, there are several steps that you must take:
- Remove any vegetation, plants or rocks.
- Compact the soil.
- Create a flat, rather than sloped, surface.
- Build and install wooden forms around the perimeter of the intended slab.
- Fill in the forms with a layer of gravel.
- Add reinforcing steel bars alongside the wooden forms.
- Create a clear path for the cement truck to get to the slab space.
Only after all these steps have been taken can the actual mixed cement be poured onto the area and leveled to give it the appearance you expect. Then, the slab needs to dry completely, which takes a minimum of 24 hours before it can be walked on.
Alternatives to Cement & Concrete
Despite their low cost, some homeowners don’t prefer the look of cement on their driveway, patio or walkway. Fortunately, there are a few other alternatives:
Of course, most don’t use asphalt for a walkway or brick around a pool. Nevertheless, there’re always exceptions. The best way to see if your dream design could work with your home is to call a local contractor.
Find A Pro
Cement and concrete are two the most inexpensive, yet durable options for your foundation, driveway, patio or pool deck. If you’re ready to start your own cement slab project, click here and connect with a masonry or concrete pro near you.
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Last updated on May 15, 2017