Five Tips for Choosing Concrete Trowels

Although there are a lot of high-tech tools available for finishing concrete, hand tools like concrete trowels are still important. Wondering what type of concrete trowel you need? Take a look at these ideas before you shop:

1. Plan to buy more than one trowel.

Unfortunately, in the world of concrete, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to troweling. Ideally, you should plan to invest in more than one trowel. You need small ones for tight corners and decorative finishes, as well as larger ones for more basic jobs. In some cases, you may even want to use multiple size trowels in the same project.

For example, if you are troweling a bit of concrete multiple times, you may want to use a smaller trowel for each pass. Ideally, your trowels should also have a more severe angle as they get smaller. This helps to really pack in the concrete and make it smooth and hard.

2. Consider buying broken-in trowels.

Unfortunately, when trowels are brand new, they are more likely to create unwanted marks in your concrete. To avoid that effect, you may want to order trowels that have been broken in. To break in a trowel without using it, manufacturers use a number of methods, such as grinding the edges of the trowel to smooth it.

3. Use magnesium for sticky concrete.

If you are working with concrete that has been air-entrained, the concrete is going to feel sticky to work with. So that your trowel doesn't get mired in the cement, opt for a magnesium trowel that resists sticking to the concrete. Conversely, if the concrete is not air-entrained, you may want to use a wood trowel.

4. Use steel before stamping.

If you plan to stamp the concrete once you have smoothed it, you should consider using a steel trowel. The weight of a steel trowel helps create a smooth, flat surface that is easier to stamp. If you don't want to use knee pads, fit your steel trowel with a long handle so that you can trowel whilst standing.

5. Test multiple handles before making a decision.

Finally, you need to consider the type of handle you want on your trowel. There are multiple options including straight, camel-back and comfortable handles. They also come in multiple materials. To figure out what feels best in your situation, experiment with multiple handles. Borrow a friend's trowel, test it out with a few passes over the concrete and decide if you like the handle.