When most of us think of mixing concrete, we picture a huge concrete truck spinning round and round. For huge projects, this would be an option. However, if you want to pour a concrete slab for a storage shed, a patio, or flooring inside, you can do this easily without having to rent a huge truck. Additionally, many of the options for concrete today are inexpensive, making the process something that just about anyone can afford.
When you make concrete, think of the process almost like baking your favorite cake in that you do not need a lot of equipment or materials. Just as with a cake, you can choose the store bought type where you add some water and a couple of eggs and you are all set to go, or you can make something from scratch, adding walnuts, chocolate chip pieces, and then creating a beautiful design with the icing to reflect your preference. Mixing concrete is much the same.
The most important thing to remember before you start is quantity. Unlike other materials, concrete cannot be saved for the following day�s use. Because it hardens quickly, it must therefore be used immediately upon mixing. For this reason, it is important to measure the exact amount you will need and if anything, may a little less where you can always whip up another batch quickly to finish the job.
Choosing hardware has also been made easy over the years. You can visit your local home improvement store, hardware store, or building supply store and purchase a bag of ready mix concrete. The other option is to buy the various ingredients separately and mix them yourself. In this case, you would need sand, cement, and gravel with water in both cases. Regardless of the option you choose, you can expect to pay close to the same price.
To customize your concrete, you can use a variety of admixtures. The most commonly used are polypropylene fibers, water reducer, and pigment. It used to be that concrete came out gray and stayed that way. However, today you can add pigment to create a unique look that will coordinate with both inside and outside d�cor. Some of the most popular include red, brown, and black. However, other great choices include green and blue, which can be mixed to include all variations of color from navy to aquamarine and teal to hunter.
Just remember when choosing color that Type II and Type III concrete is gray and depending on brand will vary in shade. Because of this, the color when pigment is added can also vary. Additionally, if using the concrete outside, the sun will cause the color to fade over time. The best option for outdoor use to avoid fading is red and yellow that is made with iron oxides. While black and blue are great colors, they do tend to fade the most.
If you are choosing the ready mix concrete, be sure to have it ordered with the pigment for the entire load. For example, many suppliers will only deliver ready mix concrete if it is a certain amount, even if you will not use all of it. Therefore, rather than only have what you think you will need colored, you would be better off having it all colored. In most cases, you will need more than you think and going this route will save you money. You also want to make sure the pigment is ordered from a local supplier so the coloration is the same.
To mix the concrete, whether from scratch or ready mix, depending on the size of project, you can use a number of containers. For smaller jobs, a five-gallon drum is ideal whereas for larger projects, a wheelbarrow or feeding trough is great. Following the instructions that come with the concrete, you simply follow them closely and using a shovel or hoe, mix until the concrete is smooth. From there, you pour it and using a trough, level it off and then let it dry. The one thing to remember is that if you pour concrete during cold weather outside, it will probably crack. Therefore, you need to pour the concrete during warmer months where you know rain or a dip in temperatures is not anticipated.