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Mix Concrete by Hand

Mix Concrete by Hand

When you only need to anchor a post or patch a patio, mixing small batches of concrete can give your project all the strength of ready-mixed products.


Know Before You Shop for Concrete

  • An 80-pound bag, after mixing, fills about .6 cubic feet of space. When calculating what you need for projects such as patios and walkways, though, round up to allow for any uneven ground at the base.
  • If you’re going to need more than a few bags, skip hand-mixing concrete and rent a portable mixer. Here’s why: A 10-ft. x 10-ft. slab 4 in. thick would require 55 80-pound bags.
  • Not all concrete mixes work best for all applications. A basic concrete mix works for many small projects, such as setting posts, while a high-strength or crack-resistant mix works better for patching a driveway. Avoid substituting a mortar mix for a concrete mix.
  • Plan to keep the concrete surface slightly moist for 3 to 5 days while it cures to prevent cracks. Mist it lightly from time to time or apply a curing compound once the surface becomes firm.


Mix Your Concrete


Step 1
Put the Concrete in a Mixing Trough

Place the concrete bag in the mixing trough or wheelbarrow and cut along the width of the bag. Stand upwind and lift both ends gradually to empty it into the trough.

Concrete mix reacts with water -- and that includes the moisture in your eyes, lungs, and skin. Keep safe by wearing waterproof gloves and splash-resistant goggles from the time you open the bags until the time you’ve poured the concrete in place. If conditions are windy, add a respirator to your safety precautions.


Step 2
Scoop an Indentation and Add Water

Scoop an indentation in the center of the powdered mix using your hoe and pour in two-thirds of the water specified in the instructions. Use the hoe to push and pull the mix until the water has been absorbed. Gradually add the remaining amount of water -- but no more -- and continue mixing the concrete until it’s at an even consistency.



Step 3
Correct Concrete Consistency

Instead of adding more water to dry pockets, work the corners and sides of the trough into the mix to soak up excess moisture in the middle. Keep mixing until the concrete reaches the consistency of peanut butter and the dry pockets are gone. To test the mixture, grab a fistful of concrete in your gloved hand and give it a squeeze. The ball of concrete should retain its shape and not drip out between your fingers.



Get the Right Amount of Paint