Cor-Tuf Screed

Leveling UHPC with a Standard Power Screed

Construction crews know how to get a batch of concrete mixed, poured, and leveled. At job sites around the country (and the world), construction professionals use standard machines and well-known techniques to do the job right. We, like most construction professionals, believe that any new concrete technology should be mixed, transported, poured, and leveled these standard machines and techniques.  Concrete construction—including leveling—shouldn’t need an overhaul.

As you know, concrete screeds come in a few main types, in order to handle the scale and nature of a project. For small residential sites, you’re probably using a hand-held vibratory screed and some floats. For a bridge or paving project, a truss or roller screed is the equipment of choice. These are nice improvements over the old days of having a whole crew use 2×4’s to level out every concrete pour, and the technology advancements to the modern power screeds have done a lot for project productivity.

UHPC is definitely an improvement over old-fashioned concrete, but if it requires massive increases in additional “expert” manpower, complex equipment, and a steep learning curve, it’s not a viable option for budget-conscious contractors. Instead, it should be cost-effective, using standard machines and material specifications—so that it can be seamlessly incorporated into a contractor’s normal workflow.

That’s why we level Cor-Tuf Ultra-high Performance Concrete (UHPC) with a typical power screed, after mixing and pouring from a standard ready-mix truck. Easy mobilization and integration into fleet-wide project planning means minimal training and no special equipment rentals. You don’t need to bring in a specialist for every UHPC job, or purchase a proprietary applicator.

This is an improvement over the UHPC  stuck in the days of a gimmicky subscription model, demanding special project oversight and an all-in-one machine that mixes special sand and cement, pours the mix, and levels it using hydraulic levelers. 

Salesmen might make this sound great, but it doesn’t make sense for a typical contractor. In practice, this arrangement means a giant machine needs to be delivered, with extra lead time, added overhead costs, and scrutiny on local workers who are there to level the concrete. 

Why do these vendors use this burdensome approach? Other UHPC mixes may not be able to achieve the desired consistency, workability or results without special mixing programs. They need to have long mixing times with expensive, single-use equipment to pass slump and cylinder tests. In-house supervisors and operators may need to perform the installation with an experimental machine because it doesn’t level out easily with a typical screed, from a stand-off dragon model to a cheap handheld model. The result may be a decent UHPC product, but the process upends the façade of competitive parity with efficient construction. 

Bridge overlays using the simplified UHPC method

Contrast this with our approach to recent bridge overlays. Ready-mix gets delivered in a standard ready-mix truck. With our fibers integrated, the crew spreads as they usually would, and a truss power screed levels the poured material. The screed is installed on tracks with hand cranks, and only needs a minor PVC attachment to get the job done. In, out, and onto the next job with minimal opportunity for incidents or change orders. The contractor uses the same sand and cement as they usually would, and techniques similar to all their jobs that use traditional concrete.

The benefits of integrating Cor-Tuf UHPC seamlessly means you gain from the advancement of high-strength and long-performing UHPC without significantly altering the way in which you work with concrete. Contractors need to be trusted to do their jobs, especially when it comes to tried-and-true techniques such as screed leveling. They should not be burdened with unnecessary costs and methods simply because they want to start taking advantage of state-of-the-art material. 

The bottom line for any construction project is time and money. The cost of new machinery often outweighs its benefits in modern construction. Standard techniques and equipment, such as ready-mix trucks and power screeds, should be the foundation of applications such as UHPC. New solutions must always factor in real-world applications that contractors use.

By achieving a UHPC product that joins local supply chains with classic techniques to achieve next-generation results, Cor-Tuf has found the sweet spot. Stay tuned for more updates on our ongoing projects demonstrating seamless integration with methods that work. Your sand, your cement, our Cor-Tuf UHPC.

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