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Projects involving the making of concrete can be challenging and costly. You may need to know how to make concrete in a mix that suits your needs. Furthermore, you can save yourself some costs. You're at the right place to learn how to make concrete.

This article will explain how to go about making your own concrete mix.

You can learn more about terms like concrete, cement, cement mix, and mortar mix. You can also read up on details on buying concrete ingredients, using your own cement mix, and making high-quality concrete.

What are Concrete and Cement?

It would be best not to confuse concrete and cement with being the same thing. Concrete can be described as a mixture of fine and coarse building materials consisting of cement, stone, and sand.

On the other hand, cement is the adhesive aggregate that holds the concrete mix.

Concrete mix vs. mortar mix

In the same vein, you should know the difference between a mortar mix and a concrete mix. Mortar mix is different in that the aggregates do not achieve the thickness and strength of concrete.

You can vary the number of required materials for your mortar mix or concrete mix to match the size of the job. Examples of the use of mortar are laying paving flags.

Steps to Make Concrete Blocks

Step One: Gather needed equipment and materials

  • Wheelbarrow
  • A bag of cement
  • Sand
  • Buckets
  • Coarse gravel or crushed stone
  • Shovel
  • Small container

Step Two: Measure out the ingredients

The recipe can include the following:

  • A wheelbarrow mix of 3 small buckets of sand.
  • Two small buckets of gravel.
  • One small bucket of cement.

Essentially, you only need to follow a 3:2:1 ratio.

Step Three: Mixing the cement

This is the step where you mix the ingredients in the wheelbarrow using your shovel. Remember to scoop up from the bottom and scrape the sides occasionally. This way, you do not leave out pockets of unmixed ingredients.

This step is a prelude to adding water. You must mix the dry ingredients to avoid having dry clumps. Alternatively, you can use a powered mixer to mix the concrete to the consistency of peanut butter.

Step Four: Adding water

Now use your shovel to carve out a little reservoir right in the middle of your dry mix of ingredients. Then pour in a larger bucket of water as you continue mixing it in. Remember, you should slowly add water to the concrete mix. You can stop adding water when the mixture is wet and has a good consistency.

Step Five: Adjust the mix

Sometimes, the mix may be too dry. After all, mixing concrete is not a one-stage process. Adjust the mixture by adding water gradually until you get a good consistency. However, adding some dry mix can help soak up the water if your mixture is too wet. You can use your cup instead of your bucket this time to measure the ratio.

Step Six: Start the concrete finishing process

Concrete finishing is meant to push gravel down, remove air bubbles, and bring water up from the concrete mix. In their separate ways, this process prevents weakening, aids curing, and creates an attractive surface.

As you round up your concrete mixing process, pour the concrete or shovel it into the desired area. Start screeding if necessary to achieve a smooth, even finish.

Step Seven: Wash the mixing tools

Now that you're done with the finishing concrete process, you can wash your mixing tools before concrete remnants set in. Certainly, you wouldn't want the concrete mix to dry up on the tools and damage them.

Put your hose on its strongest setting and spray the tools. You can use a wire brush to remove any last bits. You can also make use of a power washer.

How to Mix Cement Using Different Options

Mixing concrete is relatively easy if you have the right tools. Here are some alternatives for making a concrete mix. You can create a soft concrete mix yourself. Make the cement or purchase it and mix it with the other ingredients. Another option is to buy pre-mixed concrete. After that, add water to it and create your workable concrete.

Where to buy concrete ingredients

  • You can purchase pre-mixed concrete at hardware stores and home centres.
  • Limestone-based cement is sold online and in gardening centres.
  • You can buy all-purpose sand in online stores and hardware stores.
  • You can also get a concrete mixer as an alternative to a shovel and wheelbarrow. You can rent a portable concrete mixer.

Mixing concrete using your own cement mix

To make concrete from scratch, you must mix the four components of concrete. This includes cement, water, sand and gravel.

Steps for making your own cement mix

  • You can purchase limestone from supply stores or collect it from nearby riverbeds.
  • Use a strong shovel to break the limestone into smaller chunks - less than 2 inches (5.1 cm) across.
  • Wear protection such as thick gloves as you work with the kiln.
  • Heat the limestone with an outdoor oven or kiln. You should set the heat to 900 °C (1,650 °F), and the limestone should be heated for four or five hours.
  • Pull out the limestone from the oven and let it cool off. Do not breathe in the fumes. Always wear a respirator to avoid breathing in any of the fumes.
  • It should now be easy to crumble the baked limestone into cement powder. You can do it with your gloved hands.
  • You can store excess ground limestone (quicklime) in airtight containers.

How to Make High-Quality Concrete

You can choose the quality of concrete based on the structure being created. Cement, water, and aggregate proportions are the secret to a high-quality concrete mix. In addition, the method of mixing the concrete elements has its own impact.

Thus, the concrete's final strength depends on the water-to-cement ratio. Note that the proportion here refers to the water's weight and the cement used to mix the concrete.

Most importantly, use the least amount of water to mix the ingredients. This will contribute the most to the final strength of the concrete.

Make this water-to-cement ratio as low as you can to produce high-quality concrete. The concrete should also have maximum density. In other words, it should be strong and water-tight.

Concrete mixing tips

  • In the beginning, you can anticipate the needed volume of concrete. Multiply the thickness of the intended area by its square footage.
  • Some bags of concrete mix already have sand, so you may not need to shovel in the sand.
  • When mixing concrete, you may start with a 1:1 ratio of cement and sand.
  • Always be sure to use clean sand and gravel. Otherwise, silt, clay, and other impurities will weaken the concrete.
  • Also, use clean and fresh water.
  • Using too much water tends to weaken the concrete. It can also cause cracking.
  • Always slowly add water to the concrete mix. Sprinkle the water in instead of pouring it.
  • Using smaller pieces of gravel or crushed stone can result in a smoother finish.
  • If you're using pre-mixed concrete, follow the directions on the concrete bags to know the amount of water to mix in.
  • Generally, an 80 lb (36.28 kg) bag of concrete can occupy a 0.6 cubic feet area.
  • An alternative to a wheelbarrow is a concrete tray.
  • Always protect your hands with a pair of latex gloves and sturdy work gloves. This will reduce the chances of cement contacting your skin directly.
  • Wear a pair of safety goggles to protect your eyes.
  • You can wear a surgeon's mask to cover your mouth.

Why Use a Professional Concrete Company?

After reading this piece on how to make concrete, cement mix, and high-quality concrete, you may want to do a DIY concrete mixing job. This may be the case, especially if the building project is small. However, there are benefits to hiring a professional concrete company to do the job.

They are more likely to have the right equipment for mixing the cement, such as concrete mixers. As such, you can invite them for your outdoor building projects, home construction, foundation work, and more.