Making concrete from aggregates and water might seem like a simple process. But there are ways to go about that will increase the durability and quality of the concrete. If you mix the ingredients properly it will result in a strong product that will last for many years. Follow these tips on how to mix concrete correctly. It will make your projects stronger and more durable.
Concrete mixing tools
- A shovel
- A wheelbarrow
- Rubber gloves
- A large bucket
- A dust mask
- A plastic or steel sheet
- A hard-bristled broom or brush
Mixing concrete properly
Step one is to empty the cement bag into a wheelbarrow (or other mixing container). Open the bag of cement and pour it into the wheelbarrow. Scoop out a few cups of cement and set aside.
Pour a 10cm layer of sand onto a steel sheet. This will be the mixing area – never mix concrete on bare soil as the mud will contaminate the batch. Follow the guidelines on the cement bag. It will have suggestions for the correct quantities of sand and gravel per bag of cement.
Use a shovel to sprinkle the cement from the wheelbarrow over the sand. Mix these two dry ingredients together until you get a uniform colour. If your concrete requires gravel or crushed stones, mix them into the cement and sand next.
According to the instructions on the cement bag, measure out the specified amount of water and keep it in a bucket. Use the shovel to make a well in the dry ingredients and pour about 90% of the water into the well. You can add the remaining water later, if the concrete is too dry.
Mixing of wet and dry ingredients
Use the shovel to pull small amounts of dry ingredients into the water and then mix thoroughly. Keep mixing small amounts with the water at a time, until all of it is wet. Continue mixing thoroughly. Add the rest of the water if necessary.
If you pull the shovel through the wet cement mixture and the sides of the trench crumble, it is a sign that your mix is too dry. Add one cup of water to the concrete and mix it in well. Alternatively, if the trench sags and fades too quickly, then your mix contains too much water. Add a cup of cement and mix well until the concrete has the right consistency.
The sides of the trench should support themselves. When the mix becomes shiny (when patted with the shovel), the concrete is ready to be poured or laid.
How to clean your tools and equipment
When you have finished pouring your concrete, it is important to scrape off any leftover mix from your shovel, wheelbarrow and steel sheet and place it in a bag. Wash your tools and equipment under running water. Use a hard-bristle brush to scrub the residual concrete off properly. Any leftover concrete on the shovel or wheelbarrow will become dry and hard, making it almost impossible to remove.
Remember to clean your tools in a drainage ditch where the water will be able to flow away from the construction site. The rinse water can be harmful to plants, so avoid cleaning tools with water near plants or on grass.
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