Would you like to do some concrete crafting or pour a small slab, but you don’t know how to mix concrete? Or maybe you’re supposed to start your first job working with concrete, but you don’t know much about it and want to be a little prepared?
Well, I got you covered here. Mixing concrete isn’t hard and it can be seen as really simple as well. Then again at some places where correct strength is demanded it becomes almost like science with how it’s measured.
You don’t have to mind about that if you’re a beginner or doing your first mix. There are instructions on the ready-mix bags and if you have to do it from basic materials, there will always be someone to inform you.
General knowledge about concrete
Concrete is one of the most useful and durable building materials in the world. We use it to build skyscrapers, schools, government buildings, churches, homes, and public places. It is extremely strong yet aesthetically beautiful in its styling and architecture as well as its modern patterns, textures, and colorful surfaces.
Many small projects around the home can benefit from using concrete as the construction material of choice but many folks do not know where to start in terms of how to purchase and mix the materials necessary to complete such a project.
In fact, concrete countertops and concrete furniture are becoming more and more popular. There are many guides on the internet about how to make them and I linked one on this site back there as well.
The process of doing those might seem complicated, but learning how to mix concrete may be much easier than you think.
There are a variety of small jobs that arise at home for which concrete is the perfect construction material. Fence post footings, countertops, deck footings, small concrete pads under the drain pipes to direct run-off water flow, stepping stones for the garden, and in-ground anchorage for the legs of a swing set or some other type of play set all quickly come to mind as great projects for home do-it-yourselfers.
Using concrete is the least expensive and most convenient solution to all these project needs. However, none of these tasks require the amount of concrete available for delivery as “ready-mix”, so from where are homeowners to obtain what they need?
The answer is simple. They can mix concrete themselves in just the right amount for completing each project on their to-do lists. It really is not a complicated process. The greatest skill you need is the ability to carefully follow directions.
Start from local hardware store
Start by going to the local hardware, building supply, or home improvement store. Bags with 60 to 80 pounds of concrete mix are purchased in one of those locations. Sometimes the labels are confusing because they carry such tags as “fast setting” and “fiber-reinforced” as well as “high early strength”.
Just plain concrete mix is all you need to begin. As you gain experience, you can check these others out to see if they have any particular qualities that make them more suited for your future projects.
Just be very careful not to purchase mortar mix or some other mix by mistake. Only the concrete mix contains the needed aggregates for the thicker concrete most projects need.
How to mix concrete in a wheelbarrow at home
Next, gather up the tools needed for your work. These are waterproof gloves, safety glasses (because cement material is caustic and burns the eye), a brush with stiff bristles for a cleanup time, a large bucket for hauling water, a strong hoe (or flat shovel or a garden spade), and a wheelbarrow.
Put the concrete mix bag in the wheelbarrow and cut it open across the middle. Shake the mix into the barrow.
Now it is time to make the one big mistake all beginners make. Add water without measuring it out first and determining how much is needed then watch how soupy the mixture gets. Do not worry. This mistake can be corrected.
Carefully measure the water
When adding the water for the first time, only add a pre-measured amount from the bucket instead of directly from the garden hose. Pour it in on only one side of the wheelbarrow then mix it with the hoe for several minutes.
This technique gives the mix the opportunity needed for it to get fully wet and all the moisture is absorbed by the dry mix.
If the consistency is too dry, add water in one cup increments until the mixture reaches the right consistency. Always reserve a few cups of dry mix in case you need to add some when a mix becomes too thin.
You will know when your concrete is ready because the hoe blade when pressed against it will leave behind a shiny patch on its surface.
The amount of water added makes all the difference during mixing. If too much water is added and the mix is soupy, the concrete will only be half as strong as it should be and take a very long time to dry out and cure.
The more closely you monitor the water to mix ratio, the stronger your concrete will be when put to use.
How to mix concrete with mixer
Now, this is another way to mix concrete. Usually, on construction sides, there are either standing mixers like concrete drum mixer or you mix the concrete with a mortar mixer.
For the drum mixer, you throw in the water and then place part of the ready mix bag in there. After a while, you throw the rest in. Remember that you have measured the correct amount of water for the bag.
When we work, we might just drop it all in and leave it to mix, but if you measure the water first and mix the dry concrete in little by little, you won’t have any concrete that didn’t mix well.
If you work with a mortar mixer, the same tactic works here as well. Measure how much water you need for a bag and then place half of the concrete in the bucket while you mix. After a while place the other half and mix it for a while. Then you leave it to wet a bit and mix it one last time after 3-5 minutes.
Now you should know how to mix concrete in a wheelbarrow and with machines as well. Wheelbarrow and hand and a bucket are maybe the simplest ways to do it without any machines helping you.
Of course, if you work with it a lot you will be using the machines. No one has time for making it by hand when you’re at a paid job. Still, it’s good to know that you can do it without expensive equipment if you have to do small jobs at home.
For bigger projects, getting a mixer is recommended. Mixing in a wheelbarrow is more for the small things.