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How To Mix Concrete

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Picture of stepping stone path through a lawn area.

Coloring agents can be added when you mix concrete.

David Beaulieu
It's not difficult to mix concrete, but beginners must learn to recognize when the desired consistency has been achieved. One must also learn about safety precautions and the materials that must be gathered prior to mixing. The tips below will acquaint concrete novices with the process.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Depends on Amount Needed

Here's How:

  1. Pour some pre-mix concrete into a wheelbarrow or tub.
  2. Add just a little water at a time as you go to work with the shovel. To mix concrete, thrust the shovel underneath the pre-mix concrete and fold it over on itself, distributing the wetness.
  3. Continue adding small amounts of water as you mix concrete, until all of it looks the same and it achieves a consistency that is neither dry nor soupy.
  4. When you mix concrete properly, it ends up with a consistency that has been compared to cookie dough.
  5. To test the consistency, use the blade of your shovel like a knife and try to cut a shallow channel through the surface of the pre-mix concrete....
  6. If too dry, the channel walls will be crumbly; add more water and mix concrete some more.
  7. If too wet, the channel fills in with water; add more pre-mix concrete and continue "stirring."

Tips:

  1. When you mix concrete, wear protective eyewear, gloves and a face mask, since the dust can be caustic.
  2. For some people, the biggest challenge to address when they mix concrete will be lifting the product (it comes in bags that are heavy). When lifting, keep a straight back, bend your knees and cradle the load up against your torso (wear an old long-sleeved shirt and long pants).
  3. In the materials list below, you'll see that #1, a coloring agent, is optional (since it pertains to decoration). I myself am trying a coloring agent in a stepping-stone project I'm working on. As an example of the results, look at my picture (above right): you can see that one of the stepping stones is darker, because it has been colored.
  4. More concrete mixing tips were sent in by retired inspector, Ed Adams.

What You Need

  • (Optional:) Coloring agent that you apply when you mix concrete, to add pizazz.
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow or tub in which to mix concrete.
  • Water
  • Pre-mix concrete
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