Building the Next Generation of Masons
The labor shortage is a real concern in the construction industry. So real, in fact, that organizations and associations, including the Associated General Contractors of America, have surveyed contractors to share how they plan to combat the shortage via better wages, hours, etc. With the demand at an all-time high, the lack of skilled trade workers has the industry looking for the next generation to take the reins.
One area of opportunity for those looking for work in Texas is in the masonry space. Whether individuals are looking to work for a general contractor, a construction company or be their own boss someday, concrete construction and remodeling provides a great point of entry for someone looking to get into the trade. Since there are limitless resources available, as well as YouTube videos that show individuals how to properly use the product, installing concrete has become more accessible, allowing individuals to easily get behind a skill before moving on to tackle other projects in the construction realm.
How to Begin
If you are new to concrete, the first step is to roll up your sleeves and learn everything you can about the material. Tech schools are offering more opportunities to learn the trade, and concrete manufacturers are offering seminars to get one-on-one exposure to the product. Many of these seminars are free and allow insight into a trade that is profitable in both residential and commercial environments.
Once an individual is ready to start working with the product, they should get started with a few small projects, as it will provide the framework to take on larger or more specialized projects. Sidewalks and patios using bagged concrete is a great first step, as the bags provide step-by-step instructions on what is needed to complete the install. Once a person gets more comfortable, they can move onto smaller design projects using stone veneer mortar, concrete repair projects and more. With concrete, the opportunities are only limited by one’s imagination.
Best Practices for Working with Concrete
Like any trade, executing what is promised on time and on budget are the most important aspects to any project. When working specifically with concrete, it is equally important to choose a quality product that delivers durability and longevity.
For those starting out in concrete, bagged concrete is an ideal starting place. Below are the top three tips for working with this product:
- Don’t Over Water. When too much water is added to concrete or mortar mixes, the end product is more susceptible to cracking and a strength reduction. Many use a garden hose and add water until it looks right, however this could lead to big problems. The strength of the product and the finish depend entirely on how much water is added, so it is recommended that the individual uses some type of container to measure out the correct amount of water.
- Overcalculate. When working on a project, measure the project specs first to determine how much concrete is needed. Use a concrete calculator to help determine the best product and amount for the project. Based on the calculations, build in 10-15 percent of extra product into estimates for potential waste or unpredicted issues.
- Build Solid Foundations. To limit settling, ensure solid foundations are built for the concrete mix. Using proper forming to set the foundation of a sidewalk or digging a proper hole (based on bag instructions) will help ensure that the concrete is placed correctly.
With the construction labor shortage expected to amplify in the coming years, more and more opportunities will be available for those in the trades. With masons and contractors in Texas leaving the industry for retirement, the opportunities are endless for those just now getting into the trade.