Saturday, August 12, 2017

Concrete Slabs for Dummies - The Freelance Files CMXXXV

floating concrete slab
We spent a week not long ago making fun of some idiotic content editor at eHow.com. In case you're unfamiliar with the position, a DMS¹ content editor "tweaked" the work of the website's contributors to make certain that it followed the site's multitude of rules. They were also supposed to edit for accuracy, but since most CEs were college journalism (aka "communications") or English majors, they typically knew jack about the topics. That's how the piece of rubbish written by Denise Brown slipped through -- and why we had to laugh at "How to Make a 10X10 Concrete Slab" on the website Hunker.com.

From the looks of her profile picture, Brown -- a history teacher -- may have known better; it's hard to tell what the original might have said. Oh, wait: you wanted to know what tipped off our researcher that this article needed to be featured in the DotD sweepstakes. Well, it's something way down in the instructions, step number seven:
"Use a straight 2-foot-by-4-foot-by-12-foot piece of lumber as a screed, or leveling tool, to make sure there are no uneven spots on the poured concrete."
Ummm, no, Denise, a 2-by-4 is not a "2-foot-by-4-foot" board -- it's a 2-inch-by-4-inch board (well, actually, 1½x inches by 3½ inches). If you figure that untreated pine weighs about 40 pounds per cubic foot, Brown's "2-foot-by-4-foot-by-12-foot piece of lumber" would weigh a bit under two tons. Small wonder she suggested that you,
    
"Have a partner help you work the piece of lumber back and forth across the top of the forms"...
...though we suggest that having several friends who are Olympic weightlifters help!

Brown's not entirely blameless even if it was the CE who added the "foot" to the board dimensions, although why s/he didn't also add it to the sentences about 2-by-10s remains unclear. For instance, Denise says that
"If you plan for your cement slab to have a thicker perimeter, allow for it by digging a deeper trench around the outside edge of the slab"...
...suggesting that she's unfamiliar with the term "footing," as someone with real experience in concrete work would be. Oh, and her Step #8 is to float the concrete (though she gives zero instructions on how to do this) and then her Step 9 is
"Insert anchor bolts into the perimeter of the concrete slab every three to four feet if you plan to build something on top of the concrete."

We think the bolts should probably go in before the slab's floated, but what do we know? Besides more than Denise, of course... When you think about it, though, we don't normally give the Dumbass of the Day award to someone who knows more than we do.

¹ DMS = Demand Media Studio, now known as Leaf Group. We still call them DMS, though, because you can't spell "dumbass" without "DMS."

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