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What is a Bull Float?

A bull float is a tool used in concrete finishing to smooth and level the surface just after it's been poured. With a long handle for extended reach, this flat rectangular blade glides over the wet concrete, pushing down aggregate and bringing the creamy mixture to the top for a professional finish. Intrigued? Discover how this simple tool can transform your next project.
Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

A bull float is a concrete finishing tool that smooths fresh concrete surfaces. It features a long handle attached to a flat wood, aluminum, or magnesium piece called a float. The tool is used after the cement has been pressed down, or tamped, and it is considered a basic and essential concrete finishing tool.

The handle of a bull float can measure anywhere from 4 feet (1.2 m) to 16 feet (4.9 m) long and may be a threaded or a snap-in type. The float includes an attachment that accepts one of the handle styles. A universal adapter that fits either a snap or threaded handle can be purchased at many tool supply stores. A bracket assembly allows the angle to be adjusted to different positions so that the float can reach the concrete surface at the particular angle needed for each job.

Concrete must be tamped before a bull float can be used.
Concrete must be tamped before a bull float can be used.

The float is available in many different lengths, but the width is usually 8 inches (20.3 cm). The ends may be circular or rectangular in shape. The tool must be lightweight so that the user doesn't get overly fatigued. It evens out the surface and makes it level, and it also presses down any large aggregate — the gravel, sand, or stone in the concrete mixture — so that the result is more solid.

Using a bull float properly requires strong organizational skills since the process must be done while the concrete is still workable, or plastic, rather than set too much. The angle and amount of pressure used on the float is important also. A worker can't push on the tool too much, or the cement work already done could be ruined. Usually, several passes are needed to ensure that the surface is as smooth and as flat as it can be. This takes time and patience, as another smoothing pass may need to be done after the concrete reaches another stage in the hardening process.

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    • Concrete must be tamped before a bull float can be used.
      By: podsolnykh
      Concrete must be tamped before a bull float can be used.