How to Make Sample Slabs

homeshowthumbHome and Garden shows provide excellent marketing opportunities for decorative concrete installers. For attendees to get the full effect of beautifully stained and engraved concrete and leave you with plenty of quality job leads, nothing takes the place of large sample slabs in your Home Show booth.

An 8 x 8 slab makes four nice pieces of concrete having at least two decoratively broken edges on each one. Here are some simple instructions.


  1. Build an 8′ x 8′ square form on a sheet of polyethylene sheeting. Be sure the form is screwed together firmly at the corners and brace each side with a heavy object so it can’t bow as the concrete presses outward.
  2. Pour concrete into the form to a depth of 2 inches.
  3. Use a light broom finish so you won’t need to acid etch the surface before applying the stain.
  4. Allow the slab to cure for a week or so. It won’t be fully cured but no cars will be driving on the samples either.
  5. Remove the form from one side of the slab.
  6. Slide pry bars 2 feet under the slab at the corners of the exposed edge. If you don’t get well under the concrete, it may break into smaller pieces than you want.
  7. Use a block to act as a fulcrum under each pry bar and gently lift the slab. Slide a 2 x 4 under the slab until it reaches the center.
  8. Remove the pry bars. The 2 x 4 remains in place allowing the slab to rock back and forth.
  9. Walk to the center of the slab and strike it with a sledge hammer. The slab will break into at least two pieces.
  10. Repeat the procedure to break the pieces again as needed.
  11. Put the slab back together and replace the form around it to hold it in place.
  12. Stain and engrave, using the cracks to separate design elements and colors.
  13. Stand up the samples and with a hammer chip off any stain showing on the broken edges and shape it so it displays well. Holding a sledge hammer against the backside and slightly off to the side of the area to be chipped off keeps the shock of the striking hammer from traveling through and possibly fracturing the sample somewhere else.