Wire mesh is a common product used for crack control in concrete slabs. The wire does not keep the concrete from cracking or increase the strength of the slab, but it does maintain the integrity of the slab when cracks occur. A good wire mesh system embedded in a concrete slab can add stability. The wire mesh needs to be reinforced to perform this function properly.
Prepare the sub-surface of the area where the wire mesh will be used. If you have a slab on grade, or built straight on the ground or on a crushed rock base, you will use concrete pads or blocks, and these will be put in place later. Other slabs require slab runners or metal bars placed end to end to extend the length of the concrete, placed in rows every 1 metre (3 1/2 feet). You will then have a series of slab runner rows over the base on which to lay the wire mesh.
Place your first sheet of mesh in a corner of the slab area. Keep the metal within the edge of the slab so when the concrete is poured no mesh sticks out; this will prevent rust bleed-through. Bring a second sheet to the edge of the first sheet. Overlap by 1.5 squares of the mesh and lay the second sheet in place.
Tie the two sheets together at the top and bottom corners where they overlap, using the pliers and tie wire. Make at least one tie in the centre of the overlap of the sheets as well, and more if the size requires it. The key is to tie the two sheets together so that when the concrete is poured they will be stable and not slide apart.
Continue adding sheets and tying them together until the entire slab is covered. When you begin a second row of wire mesh sheets, you will have to tie them together at the top and sides to the existing row and the new sheet being added. If you used slab runners, you have finished reinforcing the wire mesh.
If you are not using slab runners, place a concrete pad or block every 1.2 metres (4 feet) to support the mesh panel and "float" it within the slab. The wire mesh is reinforced and ready to have concrete added to create the slab.