Spotlight Service

Cement Finishers

IMG_7994Common myth says you can’t pour concrete in the winter, but if you ask Cement Finisher Foreman Eric Knisley, he’ll tell you that’s just not true.

“We’ve poured outside when it’s been in the single digits,” he said. “It’s not cost effective to do most concrete work in the winter time, but if you have to have it done, you can do it.”

To get the concrete poured, the cement finishers lay blankets on the ground to capture the warmth that exists in the ground.

“Even if the ground’s already frozen, when you put blankets down the heat from down below raises up and will actually remove the frost from the ground,” Knisley said.

The three-member cement finishing crew tries to do most of its jobs on the inside during the winter, working on such things as building mechanical equipment pads and foundation leaks in elevator pits and basements. The cement finishers, who also install epoxy floors, do more of that in the winter.

Even the summer months are not without challenges, since it is not advisable to pour concrete in the extreme heat of the day.

“You want concrete to dry out as slowly as possible and high temperatures speed that process up,” Knisley said. “You have to work harder at retaining the moisture in those conditions.”

Mother Nature is not the only thing that provides challenges for cement finishers. When the work is in a small space and a concrete truck can’t pull up, bringing the material to the site is often the hardest part of the job. When that happens the concrete is moved to the job in a wheel barrow scooped into 5-gallon buckets, and then delivered by pulley or two-wheel cart.

“Getting the material to those sites is the worst part of the job since it’s so heavy. A cubic foot of concrete weighs about 140 pounds,” Knisley said.

In addition to small spaces, the cement finishers have done plenty of work in large spaces, like resurfacing walkways at the State Farm Center, making repairs at Memorial Stadium, and refurbishing columns at Allerton Park. Last summer, they added a 450-foot aggregate walkway to the park. It’s these kinds of projects that keep work so interesting for the cement finishing crew.

“We work for a lot of different customers,” he said. “That is what makes our job as fun as anything. We work everywhere and don’t stay in any one place real long.”