Concrete Trowels – Your Guide to Hand Trowels & Power Trowels

If you’re looking to achieve a smooth and durable concrete surface, troweling is an essential step that should be done right after floating. There are two methods of troweling – by hand or by machine. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of trowels and provide helpful buying tips.

Steel Trowels

Purpose: Steel trowels are used after floating to create a hard and smooth surface.

What’s available: Steel trowels resemble hand floats, but with thinner blades and open handles. The type of steel used for the blade is the key differentiator. Blue steel is lightweight and flexible, while stainless steel blades are resistant to rust and stains. Trowel dimensions vary from 3 to 5 inches wide and 10 to 24 inches long.

A fresno is a steel trowel attached to a bull-float handle. It allows finishers to trowel the concrete without stepping on the slab. However, multiple hand trowelings produce denser and more wear-resistant results.

Buying tips:

  • Purchase an assortment of trowel sizes to tackle different finishing jobs. A 14×4-inch or 16×4-inch trowel is suitable for most decorative projects, while a larger fresno is more efficient for larger areas. Smaller tools like an 8×3-inch midget trowel are necessary for patching or tight spaces.
  • Gouging is less likely to occur with properly broken-in trowels. Some trowels are pre-ground at the manufacturing plant.
  • Choose the handle type that feels comfortable and provides better control. Sturdy aluminum shanks that are securely riveted to the blade are preferable.

Average costs: A 14×4-inch trowel ranges from about $24 to $40, depending on the type of steel used. Stainless steel trowels are slightly more expensive than blue or high-carbon steel trowels.

Multiple Trowelings: For maximum floor smoothness and hardness, multiple trowelings can be done. As the concrete sets, each successive troweling should be made with a smaller trowel tilted at a greater angle. However, be cautious as hard troweled surfaces can become slippery when wet.

Power Trowels

For larger projects like driveways, commercial floors, or industrial slabs, hand tools might not suffice. Power trowels offer increased speed and efficiency while ensuring a smooth and level surface.

Walk-Behind Power Trowels: These trowels are ideal for finishing driveways, small to mid-sized commercial floors, and warehouse floors. They provide a smooth and durable finish effortlessly. The blade diameters range from 24 to 48 inches, with smaller units suitable for areas less than 1,000 square feet. Gas or electric-powered options are available, depending on your power supply. Look for features like easy blade access, quick pitch adjustment, height-adjustable handles, ergonomic throttle control, and optimal balance. Top manufacturers include HoverTrowel, MQ Whiteman, Allen Engineering, and EDCO.

Ride-On Trowels: When dealing with large concrete pours over 6,000 square feet, a riding power trowel is a necessity. These trowels not only increase productivity but also deliver flatter finishes due to their weight. They come with twin blades ranging from 36 to 60 inches in diameter. Overlapping models are suitable for trowel finishing, while non-overlapping models allow switching between float pans and trowel blades. Consider factors like weight-to-power ratio, drive system (hydrostatic or mechanical), pitch control, and blade accessibility when selecting a ride-on trowel.

Buying Tips: Power trowels can be a significant investment, so consider purchasing used models in good condition or renting/leasing the equipment unless you frequently work on commercial projects.

That’s all you need to know about concrete trowels! Remember to choose the right type for your project and follow proper troweling techniques for the best results.

Related Information:

  • Constructing Commercial/Industrial Floors
  • Tools for Applying Cement-Based Overlays

Concrete Trowel