Career and Job Search Guide

Cement Mason, Concrete Finisher, Paver and Terrazzo Worker

Cement masons, Terrazzo workers, and concrete finishers all specialize in concrete work. Concrete consists of sand, water, gravel, and Portland cement all mixed together. Concrete is used in numerous construction products from roads to sidewalks.

Concrete finishers and cement masons pour and complete touch up work. They also perform coloring work and construct concrete beams or panels. Before pouring concrete, these professionals prepare structures designed to shape the concrete. These professionals then supervise other employees responsible for pouring, spreading, and finishing concrete. Cement masons then use a tool called a straightedge, to level concrete. After the concrete has been leveled, masons then use a tool known as a bull float, to push the higher quality concrete mix located near the bottom of the concrete to the top.

Once concrete workers have leveled and floated the concrete, workers use an edger to move the concrete through the forming structure, creating rounded edges and eliminating cracking. Concrete finishers then use a groover to create joints which diminish cracking. Concrete finishers complete their work by smoothing the surface of the concrete.

Often, cement masons are involved with every step of pouring and finishing concrete. To complete the process, they smooth the concrete by retroweling the surface. To create a course finish, masons use a special brush. To create pebble finish, masons implant pieces of gravel in the surface. After this finished, masons remove excess cement with chemicals. Masons that pour colored concrete create use pre-colored concrete mix. For projects remaining exposed after forms are removed, columns as an example, masons remove cement from high spots and fill any holes with a Portland cement filling and use a carborundum stone to level the surface and then place a heavy Portland mixture over the surface.

During a project, cement masons must observe how the weather effects concrete drying. They must be knowledgeable and skilled in their trade to prevent problems and defects.

Segmental pavers cut and install flat pieces of concrete known as pavers, commonly used in sidewalks, patios, streets, and driveways. Segmental pavers usually do not need to perform preparatory work before a project. Segmental pavers begin a project by leveling a surface, followed by installation of the pavers. Often segmental pavers create edges to eliminate pavers from moving horizontally and then insert sand into the joints between the pavers.

Terrazzo workers design and build decorative concrete floors, patios, and sidewalks by using concrete with marble chips embedded in the surface. Terrazzo workers usually perform the same type of preliminary work as other cement professionals. The most common type of terrazzo is known as marble-chip terrazzo, a 3 layered cement structure. To complete a marble-chip terrazzo, workers begin by pouring a 3-4 inch thick concrete foundation. Then, terrazzo workers pour an inch of sandy concrete over the foundation. In the third layer, workers insert marble chips. Before the concrete dries, terrazzo workers place more marble chips, usually consisting of many colors, into the concrete and level the surface.

When the terrazzo concrete dries, workers buff the concrete with a terrazzo grinder, a machine that is similar to a floor polisher. Any remaining indentations or holes are filled with grout. Terrazzo workers then polish the final product to create a shiny finish.

Work environment. Working with concrete can be physically exhausting since workers spend a lot of time knelling and bending. Although concrete workers usually work outdoors, they usually do not work in bad weather. Workers usually wear kneepads to protect themselves from harmful chemicals and protect their knees while knelling. Concrete workers wear waterproof boots while standing in wet concrete.

Most concrete workers spend 40 a week working, but the weather can change that. Workers can lose some of their income if they cannot work because of the weather and during periods of decreased demand for new construction projects.