Most concrete finisher jobs are standard from site to site, but masons and terrazzo workers perform slightly different tasks. Concrete finishers are responsible for setting forms in the area where the concrete will be poured, overseeing the dumping of the wet cement and various stages of the spreading process. Concrete finisher jobs performed by a mason involve using a long-handled tool to "float" the cement, bringing a smooth, wet consistency to the top surface. He or she might also create a textured finish. A terrazzo worker places marble chips in the wet cement for a decorative look.
The final appearance of a concrete slab can vary depending on what the customer wants. Concrete finishers might work with pigments to create different colored areas in the project. On some concrete finisher jobs, the mason might put small stones or pebbles into the cement to execute a specific design. Geometric patterns can be fashioned with redwood slats to delineate individual sections in the cement during the finishing process.
On typical concrete finishing jobs, grooves are set into the top layer of wet cement to prevent cracking as the concrete cures. This is especially important on large slabs, where the cement dries at different rates. The final finish may be brushed to produce a non-slip surface, such as in a pool area. A smooth finish is usually preferred when the slab will be covered with tile, carpet, or other flooring material.
Those who work on concrete finisher jobs need to pay attention to the weather and temperature to determine how quickly the concrete will cure. Concrete sets faster on hot days, so the finishing should be done quickly to prevent cracks and fissures. If the weather forecast calls for rain or snow, a large job might need to be postponed so the project isn't ruined.
Work on concrete finisher jobs is messy and requires frequent bending and time spent on the knees. These workers typically wear knee pads while smoothing the finish of wet cement. They often utilize other protective gear to prevent the lime in cement from irritating their skin. Since concrete finishing jobs take place outdoors, workers may be exposed to very cold and very hot weather. They also face unemployment during inclement weather.
Some concrete finishers get jobs right out of high school and gain experience from more seasoned workers. Once they know the fundamentals of concrete finisher jobs, they can work their way up to supervising a crew. Typically, those who advertise concrete jobs do not require a college education but are looking for employees who can physically handle the work and are dependable.