How to Reinforce a Concrete Slab with Steel Mesh

What You'll Need
Steel mesh
Tin snips
Measuring tape
Heavy gloves
Pliers
Metal ties

Regardless of how strong concrete is you can still reinforce it to make it last much longer and offer additional support. Steel mesh is a popular way to reinforce concrete. The steel mesh used to reinforce concrete looks just like any other type of fine woven material but made from metal. Steel mesh, unlike rebar, is easily formed making it very popular. It does not offer the strength that rebar does, but it is very close. Steel mesh is used by the construction business to enhance the strength of walls, columns, and sidewalks. It is easier to work with than rebar due to its flexibility. Installing mesh in concrete is not very difficult but it can take time and patience to get it set correctly. The information below will show you how to reinforce concrete using steel mesh.

Step 1 - Calculate Quantity

Using steel mesh doesn't require a degree in spatial mathematics. Steel mesh comes in rolls like chicken wire and also in sheets. Sheets are pre-measured and cut while rolls need to be trimmed to fit the area required to reinforce the concrete. When you are reinforcing concrete sidewalks, simply measure the size of the excavated hole. This is the size to cut the steel mesh to. Use the same process to measure for walls. Columns and supports are a little different in that you will have to use each side including the height as measurements, add them together, and convert to square footage. Divide this number in half to get the amount of steel mesh needed for the job.

Step 2 - Pour Concrete

Steel mesh is only effective as reinforcement if it is in the center of the concrete. If you are working on a sidewalk you will need to pour half of the concrete before you can place the steel mesh. If working with walls or columns then you need to pour all of the concrete first leaving a little room in the form.

Step 3 - Add Steel Mesh

Luckily steel mesh is very pliable and forgiving. Depending on the quantity you are working with, the mesh can be heavy and awkward, but it can also cut you if you are not careful while handling it. Always use appropriate work gloves when working with steel mesh. For sidewalk reinforcement you will simply lay the piece of steel mesh on top of the concrete you have already poured and then slowly pour in the remaining concrete. You have to be observant because you do not want the steel mesh sinking to the bottom. For a straight or curving wall, you simply line the steel mesh up with the top of the form and while the concrete is still wet you lower the steel mesh down or press it in until it is fully covered with concrete. Columns are done the same way, but you form the mesh into a cylinder and lash it together with metal ties.