Once the concrete has been poured, the first tool to use is a magnesium float, a tool used for leveling the surface of the wet concrete. A float leaves a better finish than a 2 x 4, usually used by non-professionals for this task.
The next tool to use is a concrete edger. This tool has an L-shaped edge on one side to break the concrete edge away from the form boards. It also has a tapered edge to give the edge of the concrete a professional finish. Use the concrete edger just as the concrete is beginning to stiffen. Lay it against the edge of the form and drag it across the concrete.
Concrete has a tendency to crack. To help control where cracking occurs, use a concrete control jointer. Place a 2 x 4 board across the form boards and drag the tool along the straight edge. A rib running down the middle of the tool draws lines in the concrete. If the concrete cracks, it will crack in the joint, rather than in the center of your patio.
An old slab of concrete that has a few pits but is still structurally sound can be resurfaced. Resurfacing is an economical way to fix up an existing slab instead of replacing the entire structure. Remember to pressure wash the concrete before resurfacing. Pressure washing gets rid of oil and debris and washes away the top layer of concrete so that the new product will bond to the old surface.
Spray the slab with water to keep the material from drying too quickly. Use a mortar mixer chucked into a standard drill to mix concrete resurfacer and water in a five gallon bucket. Wear safety glasses when performing this step. Pour the mixture from the bucket onto the slab and use a concrete squeegee to spread it. The minimum thickness for the resurfacing mixture is about 1/4".