Mixing Concrete

Mixing Concrete: The easy way…

I know those of you with experience may think this information is a bit too obvious, but not every DIY’er has a lot of previous experience with concrete.

Another reason I wanted to include this DIY guide is that my Father and I have two very different ways of mixing concrete…yet we do seem to get to the same result. I’m going to show you my way. Dad can start his own BLOG and tell you the wrong way if he wants too. (Love You Dad!!!!)

Mixing concrete with a hoe instead of a shovel.

First, it doesn’t matter if you have to use 60 lb or 80 lb bags. In the photos, I am using 60 lb bags. I’m not getting any younger and besides it was over 100 degrees when I was working on this project. There’s definitely a difference in the quality between Quikrete and Sakrete.  The more expensive one (Sakrete) is my choice because of the amount of Portland and size of aggregate in the mix. It just creates more of that crème necessary for a good finish.

1. Opening the bag is as simple as making a single cut down the center of the bag. Just one small slice and the bag will maintain its integrity when picked up vertically.

2. Pick the bag up and then flip the bag over when you’re dropping it into the wheelbarrow. It should split and fold up like a taco. Note the location in the upper left hand corner.

 

3. Aggregate and Concrete Strength. At this point I deviate a bit from the directions. In another life I had a trucking company that hauled concrete products. The owner always said the cement was important but it’s the size of the aggregate that gives it the strength. I added two sharp-shooter shovels full of ¾ rock that was left over from a septic project. If I had sand I would have added just one of those too. Next I add one to three cups (12-16 oz ea) of raw Portland to the mix. This all depends on the strength I want and which product I had to use at the time. Don’t add too much aggregate to the mix, you will do more harm than good.

4. Water. Add the majority of your water to the open side and begin mixing. It should be very easy and sloppy at this point requiring minimal effort and ensuring a good blending of the materials. Begin to take small bites from your dry stockpile and keep mixing.

5. Continue working your way over until it begins to get hard and dry. At this point add additional water if necessary to get it perfect.

Note: Concrete is a magical thing and the difference between one and two thimbles full of water will scare you.  No worries, if it’s a little too wet,  just add some Portland. If it’s way too wet, keep a new bag open for adding more concrete mix as needed. Just keep adding small amounts of concrete or water until you get it right. Strive to make it the consistency of peanut butter, but if it peppers your forms as it falls from the shovel, it’s probably too wet. If it is very easy to mix, then it is also too wet.