Vibration of Concrete: Best Techniques and Proper Procedures for Effective Concrete Vibrating

Vibration of Concrete

Concrete vibrating is a critical process in the construction industry as it ensures the proper consolidation and compaction of the material. By vibrating concrete, air bubbles are eliminated, resulting in a stronger and more durable structure. However, achieving effective concrete vibrating requires appropriate techniques and procedures. 

In this article, we will explore the best techniques and proper procedures for vibrating concrete, providing valuable insights for contractors and construction professionals. From selecting the correct type of vibrator to understanding the frequencies, we will delve into the factors contributing to a successful concrete vibrating process. 

Understanding the Concept of Concrete Vibration

Concrete vibration refers to the process of using a concrete vibrator to agitate the wet concrete and consolidate it into a solid and homogeneous mass. The vibrator transmits mechanical energy to the concrete, causing it to vibrate and settle into place. Moreover, the vibrations encourage the movement of trapped air bubbles and allow the concrete to settle uniformly, resulting in higher strength and durability. By understanding this concept, constructors can enhance the quality and longevity of structures, leading to increased safety and performance of any construction project. 

Importance of the Proper Vibration of Concrete

Proper concrete vibration plays a crucial role in ensuring the quality of concrete structures. When concrete is poured into a form, it often contains trapped air bubbles and voids. Without effective vibration, these imperfections can compromise the strength and durability of the concrete. Vibration is necessary to eliminate these air pockets and properly consolidate the concrete. A concrete vibrator, with its vibrator head, is the most common tool used for this purpose. 

By inserting the vibrator into the wet concrete and turning it on, the vibration radius extends throughout the concrete to eliminate bubbles and create a denser, more workable mixture. This process is particularly important for concrete slabs, as it prevents the concrete from drying too quickly before proper consolidation can occur. Failure to use a vibrator or inadequate vibration can result in weaker concrete, making it crucial to incorporate this technique right after pouring concrete.

Benefits of Using a Concrete Vibrator

Vibrating the concrete helps improve the mixture’s workability, making it easier to pour and shape and ensuring it adheres well to the formwork. Additionally, it helps achieve a more uniform concrete density throughout the structure, enhancing strength and durability. 

Another significant advantage is the prevention of voids and air bubbles, which can weaken the concrete structure over time. This technique is valuable for self-compacting concrete, so it won’t wait and must be promptly consolidated. Vigorously shaking the concrete right after you pour it ensures that the material settles evenly, creating a robust and solid structure.

Types of Concrete Vibrators

Internal Concrete Vibrators

Internal concrete vibrators are the most common and widely used type. These probe-like vibrators are designed to be inserted into freshly poured concrete. Once placed inside the concrete, they agitate and consolidate it, eliminating air bubbles and ensuring the concrete sets properly. To use an internal vibrator, insert the vibrator tip into the concrete and turn it on. It’s important to withdraw the vibrator slowly and systematically to ensure uniform consolidation. This technique with an internal vibrator is crucial for achieving the desired level of concrete compaction.

Surface Vibrators

Surface vibrators, as the name implies, are used on the outer surface of the concrete. They are commonly employed for decorative concrete applications, where the appearance and finish of the concrete are essential. Surface vibrators come in various forms, including handheld vibrators, screeds, and trowels. By agitating the concrete placed on the surface, they help achieve a smooth and level finish. These vibrators are helpful in finishing concrete floors, pavements, and other exposed surfaces.

Form Vibrators

Form vibrators are employed to vibrate the formwork before concrete placement. They are often used in precast concrete construction to ensure proper compaction and prevent the formation of air voids along the concrete form. Form vibrators come in different shapes and sizes, and their purpose is to agitate the concrete within the formwork, promoting uniform compaction. This step is crucial in producing stronger concrete by vigorously shaking and consolidating the concrete within the form. After vibrating the formwork, concrete placement can proceed with confidence that the concrete is properly consolidated.

Vibrating Table

A vibrating table is important in consolidating freshly poured concrete. Its primary function is to eliminate air bubbles and ensure uniform compaction within the concrete mixture. By doing so, it enhances the quality and durability of concrete structures. Several types of vibrating tables exist, with the most common being the flat-top vibrating table, a rectangular surface on which molds are placed. This type employs a motor and eccentric weights to generate vibrations that effectively dislodge air bubbles, resulting in strong and homogeneous concrete results.

Overall, choosing the right type of vibrator for your application is important, as different projects may require different vibration methods. Whether you opt for an internal vibrator, a surface vibrator, or a form vibrator, proper technique and careful withdrawal of the vibrator are crucial to ensure the quality and durability of the concrete as it cures. 

How to Use a Concrete Vibrator

AdobeStock 350181995

Proper Concrete Vibrator Technique

Using a concrete vibrator requires a proper technique to ensure effective compaction. The vibrator should be inserted vertically into the concrete at regular intervals, usually 12 to 18 inches apart, and move slowly up and down. It is essential to immerse the vibrator fully in the concrete but avoid touching the sides of the formwork to prevent damage. The vibration duration depends on the concrete mix type but typically ranges from 5 to 30 seconds at each location.

Inserting the Vibrator Into Fresh Concrete

When inserting the vibrator into fresh concrete, it is essential to do it systematically to ensure proper compaction. The vibrator should be inserted vertically, and care should be taken not to touch the reinforcing steel or formwork. It is recommended to immerse the vibrator for a minimum of 5 seconds at each location, ensuring that the entire layer of concrete is properly compacted. The vibrator should be gradually withdrawn while still operating to reduce the risk of segregation.

Best Practices for Concrete Vibration

It is important to follow certain best practices to achieve the best results when vibrating concrete. Firstly, the concrete should have the proper consistency, commonly called the slump, to ensure optimal workability and ease of compaction. The use of low-slump concrete may require additional vibration time and effort. 

Secondly, the vibration radius should be carefully considered to ensure complete concrete compaction. The size and power of the concrete vibrator should be selected based on the thickness and characteristics of the concrete being vibrated. Finally, the vibrator should be used in a systematic and organized manner, ensuring that all areas of the concrete are adequately compacted.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Concrete Vibrator

When selecting a concrete vibrator, several factors must be considered to ensure it serves its purpose in various construction applications. Firstly, the workability of the concrete must be considered. Different types of concrete may require more or less vibration to achieve the desired density and remove air bubbles from the mixture. 

Secondly, the vibration radius is another critical factor, as it determines how far the vibrator can effectively reach into the concrete and hold. When operating the concrete vibrator, it is essential to follow proper procedures. Turn on the vibrator before inserting it into the concrete to prevent the formation of voids or segregation. As the concrete cures, the vibrator serves as a concrete placement tool, ensuring even consolidation of lifts or layers of concrete.

Thirdly, the withdrawal of the vibrator is another factor that should not be neglected. For a probe-like internal vibrator, it is necessary to withdraw the vibrator very slowly to prevent a lack of vibration or the creation of voids. In some cases, the vibrator may jam, and care must be taken to avoid damage to the equipment. Lastly, proceeding with vibration at the right time in the curing process ensures that the concrete consolidates effectively.

Common Problems With Vibration of Concrete

contrasting outdoor texture design

Issues With Improperly Vibrated Concrete Surfaces

Improper surface vibration can lead to a range of issues that affect the quality and durability of the concrete structure. These problems primarily stem from inadequate compaction during the pouring and curing process. Here are some common problems associated with improperly vibrated concrete surfaces:

  • Honeycombs, Voids, and Air Pockets: Inadequate surface vibration can form honeycombs, voids, or air pockets within the concrete. These are essentially empty spaces within the concrete mass, which weaken its structural integrity and can compromise its load-bearing capacity.
  • Moisture Penetration: Honeycombs and voids in the concrete weaken it and allow moisture to penetrate the surface. This can lead to long-term durability issues, such as corrosion of reinforcement bars (rebar) and surface deterioration. Moisture penetration can also contribute to freeze-thaw damage in colder climates.
  • Reduced Strength and Durability: When concrete is not surface-vibrated correctly, it may contain more air voids. This lowers its compressive strength and durability, making it more susceptible to cracking and structural failures over time.

Complications in Precast Concrete Construction

Precast concrete elements are manufactured in controlled environments and transported to construction sites. Improper compaction during precast production can result in specific issues:

  • Air Voids: In precast elements, inadequate formwork vibration can lead to the formation of air voids within the concrete. These voids weaken the structural elements, making them less reliable and safe for construction projects.
  • Delamination: Delamination refers to separating or detaining layers within a precast element. This can occur when concrete is not compacted correctly between layers, leading to a lack of bond between them. Delamination can compromise the strength and integrity of the precast component.

Troubleshooting Concrete Vibration Problems

When issues arise during the concrete vibration process, it’s essential to identify and address them promptly to ensure the quality and integrity of the concrete structure. Here are some troubleshooting steps:

  • Increase Vibration Time: If inadequate consolidation is detected, consider extending the vibration time for each concrete section. Ensure that the vibrator is inserted properly and used adequately to achieve better compaction.
  • Improve Technique: Proper technique is crucial for effective concrete vibration. Ensure that the vibrator is inserted at regular intervals and is moved smoothly through the concrete to eliminate air voids. Training and experience can help operators improve their technique.
  • Adjust Concrete Mix: If segregation occurs, evaluate the concrete mix design. Adjusting the mix proportions, including the aggregate grading and admixtures, may help achieve better compaction properties. Consult with a concrete mix design expert if necessary.
  • Use Suitable Vibrators: Different vibrators are designed for specific concrete applications. For precast concrete, using vibrators designed for such purposes can help achieve optimal results.
  • Seek Expert Advice: When facing persistent vibration issues or encountering complex situations, consult with experienced concrete professionals or engineers. They can provide guidance and solutions tailored to the specific problems at hand.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does concrete vibrating work?

A: Concrete vibrating works by inserting a vibrator into the concrete while it is still wet and in its formwork. The vibrator is turned on, causing the internal eccentric weight to spin and generate vibrations. These vibrations help to displace air bubbles and consolidate the concrete mixture.

Q: What are the benefits of proper concrete vibration?

A: Proper concrete vibration has several benefits. It improves the workability of concrete, ensuring it flows easily into the desired shape and fills all voids without air pockets. It also enhances the density and strength of the concrete, making it more durable and resistant to cracking or crumbling.

Q: How long should the vibrator be left in the concrete?

A: The vibrator should be left in the concrete for sufficient time to ensure proper consolidation. The duration depends on several factors, such as the concrete mix design, ambient conditions, and project size. Generally, a vibrator should be left in each location for a minimum of 5-15 seconds before moving to the next spot.

Q: What is the radius of vibration for a concrete vibrator?

A: The radius of vibration refers to the distance over which the vibrations of a concrete vibrator can effectively consolidate the concrete. The radius of vibration varies depending on the type and size of the vibrator, but it is typically between 6-12 inches.

Q: How do I know if I have vibrated the concrete properly?

A: Properly vibrated concrete should have a smooth and uniform surface, with minimal air bubbles visible on the surface. The concrete should also be free from voids or honeycombing. To ensure proper consolidation, it is advisable to perform slump tests, density tests, and visual inspections of the concrete after vibrating.

Q: Can excessive vibration affect the workability of concrete?

A: Excessive vibration can indeed affect the workability of concrete. If the concrete is over-vibrated, it may become excessively fluid, losing its desired consistency and difficult to handle or place. This can lead to segregation and poor-quality concrete.

Q: Are there any situations in which more vibration is required?

A: Yes, there are situations where more vibration is required. For instance, in the case of heavily reinforced concrete, more vibration may be necessary to ensure that the concrete properly fills all the voids around the reinforcement and achieves proper consolidation. Additionally, in large concrete pours, where the concrete needs to travel long distances before setting, extra vibration may be needed to prevent the formation of air pockets and ensure uniformity.


In conclusion, achieving effective concrete vibration is crucial for ensuring the concrete’s structural integrity and durability. It is essential to employ the right techniques and follow proper procedures to achieve the best results. Firstly, selecting the appropriate type of vibrator, whether internal or external and ensuring it is well-maintained is essential. Correctly positioning the vibrator within the concrete mix and allowing it to penetrate evenly is crucial to eliminating air voids and consolidating the mixture. 

Moreover, adhering to the recommended vibration duration and pattern for the specific concrete application is vital. Remember not to over-vibrate, as it may lead to the segregation of aggregates. Lastly, maintaining a consistent supply of concrete and coordinating with the concrete pour is necessary for a seamless vibration process. By following these best practices, concrete professionals can ensure their structures are strong, durable, and free from defects caused by inadequate vibration techniques.

For more great articles like this, subscribe to our community at the Family Hint today!

You May Also Like