Proper mixing of concrete will deliver maximum strength and durability. When done well the concrete should last a lifetime.
The cement is caustic and can cause burns if it gets on your skin so be sure to wear heavy waterproof rubber gloves. Safety goggles and a mask will prevent the dust from making you uncomfortable should you breathe it or get it in your eyes.
Mixing container (depending on the size of the job: bucket, wheel barrow, cement mixer, etc.)
Hoe, flat shovel or spade
Stiff-bristle scrub brush
Mixing concrete isn’t complicated but if you don’t get the mix right you won’t get the results you’re looking for. Too little water and the particles won’t stick together; too much water makes it weak.
For small jobs bagged concrete mix is the way to go. For larger jobs call and get a delivery of ready-mix concrete. Using a wheelbarrow makes it easier to move and dump. If you need more capacity, consider renting a mixer for a small daily fee.
- Add water to the dry mix.
Place the concrete mix bag in the wheel barrow and cut open the bag. Dump the mix and remove the bag. To make sure you don’t end up with a soupy mix pour water from a bucket rather than squirting it with a hose. Mix for a few minutes after the water is absorbed because the concrete will get soupier as you mix. Keep a few handfuls of dry concrete mix handy just in case it gets too thin.
- Bracing the wheelbarrow with your knee use the hoe (flat shovel or spade) to mix the cement mix and water. Add water to one end of the wheelbarrow and pull the dry mix into it a little at a time. This ensures all the dry particles get wet. To test, drag your tool through the mix to make a trough. If the sides are crumbly and the concrete falls in chunks it’s too dry. Add one cup of water at a time, mixing after each addition. If it’s too runny add more dry concrete until you get the desired consistency.
- Pour into the prepared area.
Make sure you clean up quickly or you’ll have cement permanently attached to your tools and wheel barrow. Scrape the excess concrete and put it on a piece of plastic. Scrub with a stiff-bristle brush and rinse well. Be sure not to dump the water from the wheel barrow on your lawn, it could kill it.