Hand mixing concrete
Mixing bags of concrete isn’t complicated. You add some water, stir it up and pour it out. But to get the most strength from the concrete, you have to recognise when it has just the right amount of water mixed in.
Too little water and the particles in the mix won’t stick together.
Too much water weakens the concrete.
In this article, we’ll show you what the perfect mix looks like. We’ll also show you a mixing technique that will ensure thoroughly mixed concrete with a minimum of effort. When done well, the concrete should last a lifetime.
Before you begin mixing concrete
For most small jobs around the home, bagged concrete mix is the most convenient and least expensive way to go. You can use it for fence post footings, deck footings and even small concrete pads. For jobs requiring more than about 30 bags, consider ordering “ready-mix” concrete from a truck instead.
Ten or 20 kilogram bags of concrete mix are readily available at home centres and hardware stores. Don’t confuse concrete mix with sand mix or mortar mix. They don’t contain the aggregate (stones or gravel) that’s necessary to make a pour thicker than about 20mm. You’re likely to find more than one kind of concrete mix on the shelf, but for most jobs, standard concrete mix is fine. Read the recommendations on the bags or check manufacturers’ websites to find out if one of the special mixes would work better for your project.
Whether you hand mix concrete in a plastic tub, homemade mixing tub or wheelbarrow, the technique is the same to find the right concrete mix ratio. However, it’s easier to move and dump concrete that’s mixed in a wheelbarrow. For larger jobs, you could rent a mixer, but it may be more economical to simply order ready-mix concrete. In addition to a mixing container, you’ll need a sturdy hoe and a large bucket as well as a stiff-bristle scrub brush to clean the equipment. Wear waterproof gloves and safety glasses because the cement mixing in the concrete mix is caustic and can burn skin. Wash it off with water if it gets on your skin.
Slice and dump the bag
Set the bag of concrete mix in one end of the wheelbarrow and slice it open with your hoe. Dump the mix from the bag and pull out the paper bag.