How to Dry Pour Concrete Slabs

How to Dry Pour Concrete Slabs: A Step-by-Step Guide

Pouring a concrete slab may not be the world’s most glamorous job, but it’s crucial in various construction projects, whether you’re laying a foundation for a backyard garden shed or setting the base of a new garage. Dry pour concrete, one of the most common methods, involves laying concrete dry and then adding water.

This might sound straightforward, but achieving a robust and durable concrete slab requires precision, patience, and a bit of heavy lifting. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the process of dry pouring a concrete slab, ensuring you get professional results even on your first try.

Understanding Dry Pour Concrete

Before rolling up your sleeves and starting your project, it’s essential to understand what dry-pour concrete is and why it might be your go-to for certain projects. Dry pour concrete involves placing dry concrete mix directly in the form and then adding water. This method is in contrast to wet pouring, where you mix the concrete with water before pouring it into the form.

Advantages of Dry Pour Concrete

  • Cost-Effective: Generally requires fewer materials.
  • Less Mess: Reduces the likelihood of a messy site.
  • Greater Control: Allows for adjustments as you go.

Gathering Your Materials and Tools

To ensure your project goes smoothly, you’ll need the right tools and materials from the get-go. Here’s what you’ll need to collect:


  • Concrete mix
  • Water
  • Reinforcement bars or wire mesh (if needed)


  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Hose with a water source
  • Timber or metal for formwork
  • Screed board
  • Bull float
  • Trowel
  • Edger

Ensure you wear appropriate safety gear throughout the process, including gloves, eye protection, and dust masks.

Preparations Before Pouring

1. Measuring and Planning

Start by measuring the area where you will pour the concrete slab. Calculate the amount of concrete you’ll need by multiplying the length, width, and depth of the planned slab. This will help in buying the right amount of concrete mix.

2. Building the Frame

The frame or formwork is vital, as it molds and holds the concrete in place as it dries. Use timber or metal to build your formwork around the edges of your marked area. Ensure it’s sturdy and leak-proof to prevent the concrete mix from escaping.

The Dry Pour Method

Step-by-Step Guide:

1. Pouring the Concrete

Begin by spreading the dry concrete mix into the formwork. Use a shovel to distribute it evenly, filling all corners and edges. Aim for the mix to slightly mound over the top of the forms because it will compact down when water is added.

2. Adding Water

Carefully add water over the dry mix using a hose. Start from one end and slowly work your way to the other. Ensure the water is evenly distributed but avoid overwatering as it can weaken the concrete.

3. Mixing Concrete in the Form

Use a shovel or a rake to mix the water with the concrete mix thoroughly. The consistency should be homogenous and comparable to that of peanut butter. If it’s too dry, add more water sparingly; if too wet, add more concrete mix.

4. Leveling the Concrete

Once the concrete mix reaches the right consistency, start leveling it using a screed board. Move the screed in a sawing motion across the top of the formwork to get a flat and level surface.

5. Floating

After screeding, immediately float the concrete with a bull float. This will help to smooth out any imperfections and bring fine aggregates to the surface, creating a professional finish.

Finishing Touches

Texturizing and Curing:

Once leveled and floated, you can opt to texture the concrete surface with a broom for a non-slip finish. Lastly, it’s crucial to allow the concrete to cure properly. Keep the surface moist by covering it with a plastic sheet or regularly sprinkling water over it for several days. This prevents the water from evaporating too quickly, which can weaken the concrete.


Dry pouring a concrete slab might seem daunting, but with the right preparation and technique, it’s a highly achievable project that can save you a considerable amount of time and money.

Remember to work methodically, maintain a clean work area, and most importantly, ensure your mixture is consistent for a strong and durable concrete slab. Whether for a small backyard project or a large base for a structure, mastering the art of the dry pour concrete method can be incredibly rewarding and a useful skill in your DIY repertoire. Happy building!


How Can I Make My Concrete Slab Dry Faster?
  • Reduce Water Content: Use a lower water-to-cement ratio in the mix.
  • Use Accelerators: Add a concrete accelerator to the mix.
  • Proper Ventilation: Ensure good air circulation around the slab.
  • Heat: Use heaters to increase the temperature in the area.
  • Dehumidifiers: Employ dehumidifiers to lower humidity levels.
How Do You Remove Moisture from a Concrete Slab?
  • Surface Drying: Use fans and blowers to dry the surface.
  • Dehumidifiers: Place dehumidifiers in the area to extract moisture.
  • Heaters: Increase ambient temperature to promote evaporation.
  • Moisture Barriers: Apply a moisture barrier or sealant to prevent future moisture ingress.
How to Remove Excess Water from Concrete?
  • Squeegee: Use a squeegee to push off surface water.
  • Vacuums: Wet vacuums can suck up excess water.
  • Sponges/Mops: Absorb excess water with sponges or mops.
  • Troweling: During the finishing process, trowel to remove bleed water and compact the surface.