What is Concrete Bull Float? When & How to Use It

The concrete bull float is an unquestionably essential tool in large-area concrete slab construction. But do you have a deep understanding of it? In this article, we will provide a comprehensive explanation, detailing:

  • What is a concrete bull float
  • When and why to use it
  • How to use

Reading this article, you will understand all the crucial points regarding the concrete bull floating work!

Concrete bull float is working
Concrete bull float is working

What is a Concrete Bull Float

A concrete bull float is a tool for spreading and smoothing the top layer of poured concrete. It is designed with a long handle, allowing workers to operate the tool while standing and avoiding the need to kneel on the surface.

The bull float is often made from aluminum, magnesium, steel, or wood. It is attached to telescopic or button-handled poles to allow users to reach the slab from a distance without stepping onto the recently leveled surface.

The bull float hovers over the surface, leveling high spots and filling low ones, thus preparing the slab for finishing operations. This is critical in eliminating small defects or holes and ensuring the end product has a smooth, uniform appearance. Concrete bull floating is a significant part of achieving a professional quality finish on a concrete slab.

Different Types

Different bull floats are on the market, each designed to cater to various needs. Some come with rounded ends to prevent the tool from digging into the concrete, while others have square heads that can finish the forms directly.

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When & Why Should You Use a Concrete Bull Float?

A concrete bull float is typically used immediately after spreading and compressing the concrete, making it the first tool for finishing. Specifically, it is used right after screeding.

The smoothing process leaves minute ripples on the surface of the concrete, which can be smoothed out with a bull float. For some applications, this is acceptable, as the texture can add effective slip resistance on slopes and ramps.

Post-vibration of the concrete surface with a vibrating concrete screed might cause an undesirable effect. For example, over vibration of concrete can lead to separating aggregate and cement. Heavier particles, including sand, can sink below the surface, leaving a brittle layer of cement. This is called “laitance” or “bleed water,” and a magnesium alloy bull float can spread this overly wet cement.

During the concrete’s plastic state, a lighter steel bull float can also be used to remix the surface and even out irregularities.

So, the primary purpose of a bull float is to smooth and level the surface while the concrete is still wet, a process called “floating.” This operation should be completed before too much moisture or “bleed water” appears on the surface. This helps compact the concrete, push down the aggregate (large concrete particles), and bring the “cream” (a mixture of cement paste and fine aggregate) to the surface to aid with finishing.

Fresno Broom Finishing

The concrete bull float can also be fitted with a broom attachment to achieve a uniform anti-slip brushing effect on the concrete surface. The broom attachment, made with steel blades, floats on the concrete surface. It’s pushed onto the concrete to enhance surface consistency and then pulled back to apply a brushed finish. Crafting a good broom finish product requires an artistic touch. You can even create decorative effects by manipulating the broom texture across various directions.

How to Use a Concrete Bull Float

As previously mentioned, you can start concrete bull floating work after it has been poured and still pliable.

How to operate bull float
How to operate bull float

Step 1: Wait until the poured concrete dries slightly before using the bull float. If the float sinks down when you put it on the concrete, the concrete is too soft.

Step 2: Lift the bull float with the handle and set it on the edge of the concrete farther from you, just inside the form that holds the concrete together.

Step 3: Keep the handle lifted so that the edge coming toward you tilts up slightly. This angle puts most of the pressure on the trailing edge and keeps the forward edge from digging into the concrete.

Step 4: Walk backwards while pulling the masonry bull float towards your side of the concrete.

Step 5: Keep the handle steady and change its position so that the edge farther from you angles up slightly.

Step 6: Walk forward while keeping the handle steady and let the bull float do the work. Avoid pushing on the pole as it can gouge the concrete.

Repeat these steps as many times as necessary until the surface is smooth. The concrete will be levelled by repeatedly floating it, which will also drive any rocks below the surface.


This article has provided an in-depth understanding of the concrete bull float. Generally used during the wet state of the concrete slab construction process, the bull float smoothens and levels the surface. It helps to remove surface ripples and ensures the finished product has a smooth, uniform appearance. It’s crucial to prevent the edges from digging into the surface and correctly pull the float towards oneself to level the surface during operation.

Now, we invite you to join the discussion on this topic! If you have any queries or experiences to share, please leave a comment below. Look forward to your participation!

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