When Do You Use the Bull Float When Pouring Concrete?

Written by cynthia ruscitto
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When Do You Use the Bull Float When Pouring Concrete?
A bull float is used to level and smooth freshly poured concrete. (sidewalk image by Dave from Fotolia.com)

Concrete used for visible projects, such as driveways, patios and sidewalks, often requires finishing. Finishing is a process that gives a concrete surface the desired smoothness, texture and durability. A bull float is a tool used for finishing concrete.

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Prior to finishing, concrete is poured into forms and compacted, or consolidated. Initial finishing begins with screeding, a process that involves dragging a long straightedge, or screed, across the concrete surface to level it with the framework. The concrete is then bull floated and left to set.


A bull float looks like a flat board attached to a long handle. Pulling the flat surface of the bull float over the concrete surface embeds large aggregate, smoothes the surface and removes high and low spots. According to the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, keeping the bull float as flat as possible prevents premature sealing of the cement surface.

Bull Floating Vs. Floating

Do not confuse bull floating with floating. Bull floating is performed on freshly poured concrete during the initial finishing process before surface water, called bleed water, appears. Floating with a hand or power float, is a final finishing procedure performed after the bleed water has dried. Floating eliminates slight imperfections and compacts the surface mortar in preparation for any additional finishing procedures.

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