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How to Calculate the Amount of Concrete Needed for a Slab

Sep 18, 2023 | Blog

Pouring a concrete slab is a significant part of many construction projects, whether you’re laying a foundation for a building or creating a patio for a home. One of the most critical steps in this process is figuring out just how much concrete you’re going to need. Order too little, and you risk a costly and inconvenient delay. Order too much, and you’re wasting money. In this article, we’ll guide you through the straightforward calculations needed to get the amount just right.

Basic Calculation

The amount of concrete required for a slab is calculated in cubic yards or cubic meters, depending on your location and preference. The basic formula to find this number is simple:

Amount of Concrete=Width×Length×Height

All measurements should be in the same unit (feet, meters, etc.).

Example 1

Let’s say you need to pour a slab that’s 10 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 0.5 feet thick. Your calculation would look like this:

10 feet (Length) ×8 feet (Width) ×0.5 feet (Height) =40 cubic feet 

To convert this into cubic yards (since concrete is often sold by the cubic yard), you’d do the following:

40 cubic feet ÷27=1.48 cubic yards 

Example 2

If you’re working in meters, the steps are the same. For a slab that’s 3 meters long, 2 meters wide, and 0.15 meters thick:

3 meters (Length) ×2 meters (Width) ×0.15 meters (Height) =0.9 cubic meters 

Consider the “Overage”

Calculations on paper are neat, but the real world is messy. You might find that your dimensions are off, or the ground isn’t perfectly level, requiring more concrete. That’s why it’s a good idea to order a bit more concrete than your calculation suggests. A common practice is to order 10% more concrete to account for spillage, over-excavation, or changes in plan.

So, for our first example requiring 1.48 cubic yards, you’d add 10% (or 0.148 cubic yards) for a total of 1.628 cubic yards.

Important Considerations

Lead Time

Concrete is made to order. Don’t expect to call your supplier the day before and get a full truckload of concrete. The earlier you can place your order, the better.

Strength and Mix

Concrete comes in various strengths and mixes. Make sure you order the right kind for your job. If you’re not sure, consult an engineer or another expert. The wrong mix can result in a failed project.

Delivery Access

Make sure the concrete truck can actually get to your project site. If the truck can’t get close enough, you may need to use a wheelbarrow or even a concrete pump, which can add time and cost to your project.

Seasonal Factors

In colder weather, concrete takes longer to set, requiring additives to speed up curing time or blankets to keep it warm. In hot conditions, you might need retarders to slow the curing process.


Calculating the amount of concrete needed for a slab is a straightforward task that can save you time and money. All you need to know are the dimensions of your slab. Remember to convert your measurements to the unit in which concrete is sold (typically cubic yards or cubic meters). Always consider ordering a bit more than calculated to account for real-world uncertainties. Also, take into account other factors like lead time, the correct concrete mix, delivery access, and seasonal considerations to ensure your project goes off without a hitch.