The Do’s and Don’ts of Mixing Your Own Concrete

For a smaller job like a concrete patio or backyard grill, most ready-mix concrete companies don’t want to tie up their trucks for these kinds of jobs. Oftentimes, they won’t make the trip for less than a yard, and to make money on these types of projects (1 to 7 yards), they apply a minimum load charge of around $100. In addition, many concrete companies have time limits of seven to 10 minutes per yard for unloading the concrete.

The Do’s of mixing your own concrete

Consider Mixing your Concrete from Scratch

While mixing concrete on site is hard work, the time pressures are considerably more relaxed compared with those of a pour using ready-mixed concrete. This gives you the flexibility to get your project done correctly without rushing through. Concrete is made from 3 dry ingredients, cement, sand, coarse stone aggregate then mixed with water. Ready Mix bags are always an option but can dry much quicker giving you less time to do your work well. When finished, carefully cover the concrete with a tarp to protect the bags from getting wet.

Measure out your Materials Correctly

Sand, gravel, and concrete are usually sold by the cubic yard, which can be confusing because just about everything else in the building industry is measured in feet and inches. Go back to some basic math and determine volume, multiply the length times the width times the thickness. Now to calculate the volume and convert those numbers into cubic yards, Use this formula: 368 x 16 x 8 = 47,104. Then divide 47,101 (the total number of cubic inches in the footing) by 46,656 (the number of cubic inches in a cubic yard), which gives you the volume of the footing in cubic yards. These calculations indicate that the exact amount of concrete needed would be 1.01 cubic yards. When all else fails, remember there are 36 inches in a yard and multiply 36x36x36.

Look into a Mechanical Concrete Mixer

The fact of the matter is that mixing concrete is hard work. Make the hard work smarter by using the right tools. The best concrete mixers are worth the price for getting the job done right the first time and minimizing mess and mistakes. Do yourself a favor and reward yourself with a little less labor.

The Do's and Don’ts of Mixing Your Own Concrete

Keep your Mixer Clean

After mixing each batch of concrete and dumping it into the wheelbarrow, leave the drum turning and again add water up to the ring inside the drum. The water washes off the inside surface of the drum and the paddle as it turns. The mixer continues to turn while I wheel the concrete over to the site of the pour. In the meantime, the water thoroughly cleans and rinses the inside of the drum. When mixing the next batch of concrete, the cleaning water in the drum provides the initial water for that batch. The mixer can stay running throughout the pour, and at the end of the day, you just give the drum a final rinse and dump the remaining water.

The Don’ts of mixing your own concrete

Don’t Mix your Ingredients Inconsistently

When wet and dry ingredients are not mixed properly, you might experience a phenomenon called segregation. Segregation of concrete can be defined as the separation of the constituents of the material of concrete, like the coarse aggregate sinking to the bottom while the powder and liquid float to the top. The prevention of segregation is the most important consideration in handling and transporting concrete. Mix at the right consistency and speed, measure your ingredients correctly and store all your products in a spot where you can easily access them to add to the mixer at the right time.

Don’t Forget Protective Eyewear, Rubber Gloves, Long Sleeves, and Long Pants

Concrete splatters can burn eyes and irritate skin by quickly drawing out its moisture, leaving it rough, dry, and cracked. Take steps to protect yourself by Shelling out for the appropriate protective gear.

Don’t Leave any Ingredients Unmixed

In order to set correctly, the water and the dry concrete ingredients must be combined all the way. Continue mixing with a hoe or blending with a StirWhip for three minutes after you no longer see any pockets of the mix that are still dry or water pooling at the top.

Don’t Add too much Water

Adding the right amount of water to concrete ensures that it is strong enough for the job you’re working on. When there is too much water in your concrete mix, the mix will be ‘swamped’, which will weaken the chemical bonds. More water results in increased porosity, meaning that the hardened concrete will have many more tiny holes, affecting the color and its ability to stick properly.

How do I properly Heat Concrete for easy Application?

RW Martin works to provide direct contact water heaters to the concrete industry. Keeping concrete mix within the proper temperature range is critical to not only the mixing process but the curing process as well. If the concrete is out of spec with regards to the temperature, then your going to end up with pitting and cracking as the concrete mix cures. Having a robust and reliable direct contact water heater will ensure proper temperature, mixing and curing.

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