Each tool for finishing concrete has a specific purpose, and choosing the right tool is important. But knowing how to use the tool correctly is what really counts.


The most common straightedge, also known as a screed or strike-off rod, is a piece of dimension lumber found on the job site. Pulling the straightedge forward, and back and forth in a sawing motion, strikes off and levels the concrete surface.


The most common hand tamper, sometimes called a jitterbug or juke, consists of a 6- to 8-inch-wide perforated metal platform attached to two easy-grip vertical handles.


Long-handled floats such as bullfloats and darbies are efficient for floating large areas but are difficult to use for floating around obstructions and in confined areas. Bullfloats or darbies are used to fill in low spots and remove humps after the concrete has been leveled by straightedging. Because bullfloating and darbying are done before bleeding occurs, care must be taken not to close up or seal the surface during these operations.


Hand floats are constructed of magnesium, cork, rubber or wood. Hand floats are used after bleed water has disappeared, to true the surface and prepare it for troweling or other finishing operations.


Trowels may be made of either a high-carbon tempered steel or a special long-wearing stainless steel and are manufactured with a straight or camel-backed wood handle. Troweling is done to produce a smooth, hard, dense surface and is begun only after the hand floating operation.


The edger makes a neat, rounded surface on a concrete slab. It is most commonly used on sidewalks, driveways and other exterior concrete.


Groovers, often called jointers, are made of the same material as edgers. A groover is used to cut joints in the concrete.


Horsehair brooms have largely been replaced by plastic-bristle brooms and wire combs.