Working With Bagged Concrete
Mixing concrete can be a difficult and messy proposition. But it doesn’t’ have to be. These tips will make you a master mixer.
Unless you work in the actual concrete industry, working with concrete is not something that every contractor has to do every day. This means that when you do get around to using mud mix, the job is usually messy and difficult. Here are some tips on how to make your next experience working with bagged concrete go quickly and smoothly.
Mixing made easy
Stab the bag in the center with a shovel. Then open the bag like a clamshell and dump it into a wheelbarrow or plastic mortar pan.
Mix from both directions
Use a hoe to pull portions of the dry mix through the water. When you’ve moved all the mud to one end, start over from the other direction. Keep reversing direction until no more dry powder remains.
How many bags should you buy?
When you mix up a 60-lb. bag of concrete, you’ll have a volume of .5 cubic feet; an 80-lb. bag yields .66 cubic feet. (The volume is listed on each bag.) To determine how many bags you need, measure the length, width and depth of the form. Then go online and find a “concrete calculator.” One example is at sakrete.com/products/calculators.cfm.
Rent a mixer for big batches
Hand-mixing a few bags is one thing. Mixing 20 bags will wear you out. Plus, you’ll have a much stronger chunk of concrete if all of it is mixed and placed as quickly as possible. Don’t hesitate to rent a mixer. You can find small electric ones that fit in the back of your hatchback and cost you about $50 per day. For about $10 more, you can get a much larger electric or gas unit that you tow home. (Photo by ProForce)
How should concrete mix be stored?
Bags of concrete will absorb moisture from damp concrete floors and the air. And before long you’ll have rock-hard bags out in storage. Never store bags on concrete surfaces, and for long-term storage, keep them in giant sealed bags.
Want some color?
You’ll find several earth-tone dyes at the home center. So if you’d like a terra cotta, buff or other color besides basic gray, it’s simple. But don’t throw the dye into the mix and start working it in or you’ll have uneven color distribution. Instead, stir it into the water before you add the water to the dry concrete.
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