Mixing Concrete: The DIY Guide | The perfect mixing ratio, preparing concrete and the tools you can use
Most people can become a little confused when working out how to create a perfect concrete mix for the job in hand. Getting the correct ratio for concrete mixing is very important as this can vary for the type of application you require on areas including foundations, garden walls and patios. You can also purchase ready mixed concrete for some applications; this is often the preferred choice and prevents any mistakes by trusting a supplier to provide your concrete ready to go.
What is concrete?
Concrete is a simple mixture of aggregate (stone particles), cement and sharp sand. When these ingredients are mixed with water, they will bind into a solid, hard material (concrete). The mixture you choose determines the strength of your concrete. Concrete can be used in a variety of places including builds, motorways, fence posts, driveways and much more.
Hand mixing concrete
If you are looking to do small jobs, then hand mixing concrete would be a suitable option for you. Ensure you mix your concrete thoroughly until its consistency becomes even, this is so the concrete is neither too sloppy nor too dry. If you are looking to use hand mixing as a regular mixing method this is a cheaper option when compared to ready mix concrete, however hand mixing requires a lot more labour than what is required of already mixed concrete.
As above, if you are looking to hand mix concrete then a cement mixer is the obvious required tool for the job. These can be either hired from a tool hire shop if you have a small job to do, or purchased if you are looking to use it on a regular basis. When mixing, it is advised that you use a basic mixing ratio of 75% water and 50% aggregates to begin with. Leave this to mix for a short while then add the remaining aggregates and water after. There are videos online how to do this if you struggle with this process.
Ready mixed concrete
If you are covering a large area or if you need to cover an area quickly then ready mixed concrete is the option for you. This is already mixed to the perfect consistency ensuring that no mistakes are made when mixing. The downfall of ready mixed concrete is that this can be more expensive compared to other options, but what you pay in price you get in quality and ease. Ready mixed concrete is usually poured directly onto the area you require by a mixer lorry on delivery. This can then be simply smoothed into place when applied.
What is ready-mixed concrete?
Ready mixed concrete is manufactured concrete that is usually formed in a factory or batching plant. This is manufactured to a set recipe which ensures the same consistency and thickness each time. This is then delivered to your work site as explained above. Ready-mix concrete is usually preferred to on-site mixing, this is because of the precision is that of what is exactly required and this method also reduces work site mess/confusion.
How do I work out the amount of concrete I need?
Concrete is measured in cubic metres. To calculate this simply measure the required surface area by multiplying its length by its width. This figure must then be multiplied by the thickness or depth that you require. If you need help with this there is a huge selection of online concrete calculators.
We hope this article helped you understand more about the types of concrete you can use, how to use them and answered some of the questions you may have.