Tips For Getting Ready Mix Concrete Right The First Time
If you're venturing into creating your first concrete structure on your own, the first step is to ensure that you've got your concrete mix right. Although mixing concrete isn't particularly difficult, you'll need the right consistency to ensure that it hardens the way that it should. If you don't add enough water, you'll get a dry mix that doesn't stick. If you add too much water, you'll end up with a sloppy mix that doesn't set. Here are some tips to help you tackle that first concrete mixture with confidence.
Start with Concrete Powder
Empty your concrete powder into one end of a wheelbarrow or a large tub. Keep it all in one end, though, so that you can work the water in gradually. A large tub or wheelbarrow will make it easier to work with the mixture and get an even mix.
Add the Water
Measure the water according to the directions on the concrete mix that you selected. The ratio of powder to water will vary by manufacturer, so it's important that you verify how much your brand requires. Reserve between three and five cups of water and pour the rest into the other end of the wheelbarrow or tub.
The reserved water will be used to get the consistency the way that you want it. By reserving it until you've mixed the rest, you have more control over how moist the concrete mix becomes. Don't give in to the temptation to just turn on the hose and run the water until the mixture's wet. You don't have the same control over the end product that way because the water comes out too fast and you can't measure it.
Work it All Together
Combine the concrete powder and the water gradually using a flat shovel or a hoe. The shape of these tools makes it easier to draw the concrete powder into the water. Mix thoroughly as you pull the powder toward the water, making sure that everything is moistened.
Once the powder absorbs the water, keep mixing. This is important, because the concrete will get a little soupier as you mix. Don't be tempted to add more water just yet – make sure you work it around some to see just how wet it really is.
Recognize an Improper Mix
Once you've mixed it all together, it's important that you know the signs of dry concrete mix. Drag your shovel or hoe through the middle of the concrete. It will create a shape similar to a valley. If the sides start to crumble and fall into the center in large chunks, that's an indication that the concrete's too dry. Add water about a cup or so at a time and make sure you mix well each time.
If the sides won't stay up, or they slosh back down and the mix is soupy, it's too wet. Add more powder about a cup at a time until you are able to keep the valley in the center of the mix with smooth, stable sides. That's how you know it's mixed properly.
To learn more about ready mix concrete, contact a company like Van Doren Red-E-Mix.