Plastic cement is a bonding agent used in construction projects as well as DIY projects. It is combined with water and aggregate (crushed stones and gravel), and then dried for the finished product. Now this sounds simple enough, but as anyone with some experience with plastic cement will tell you, this is as complex an element as it is vital. Many first timers end up making the same set of mistakes when using plastic cements. So if you are planning any projects with plastic cement, read through these four common mistakes to avoid when using plastic cement.
1 - Segregating the Work Space
Working with cement can be fairly messy, so you may think that a large work space, or working in a separate area, away from the site where the concrete needs to be laid, may be a good idea. This actually is the first and most common mistake. As you mix plastic cement, aggregate and water together, the mixture begins to hydrates rapidly. If your mixing site is too far off from ground zero, the mixture may harden before you actually pour it out. So what you need to do is make sure that you are positioned close to the final site. Use a vehicle (a wheelbarrow in the case of small amount, a truck in case of a larger one) to reach the mixture where it needs to be at the earliest.
2 - Mixing Too Much
Do not work on large amounts of plastic cement or water at a time. When mixing the lot, it is best to do so in small quantities. Working on large loads of wet mixture at a time can lead to over-working. This means that you could end up with an unfortunate segregation of the mix (the aggregate isn’t held tight anymore, compromising the structural quality of the product) instead of binding the whole thing together. To avoid this, add small quantities at a time to the mixing barrel. Pay attention to the ratios and be patient.
3 - Allowing the Mixture to Dry Too Soon
Working with plastic cement does not stop when you pour out the mixture. In fact, you have to work just as hard to make sure this poured mixture does not dry out too quickly, as this will ruin all your hard work up to that point. When the concrete dries rapidly, the combining agents do not form a strong structural bond. If used, the concrete will weaken quickly and eventually develop cracks. Therefore, it is very important to keep the mixture wet. This can be done by constant monitoring and spraying of water. It also helps to have a plastic shield in place that can minimize water evaporation.
4 - Not Being Prepared
Working with cement is messy and also can be dangerous at times. If you are working with large quantities, it could cause skin irritation, itching and burning. Also, since cement hardens considerably, the final product can be fairly heavy and mishandling the load can cause injury. Therefore, it is very important that you follow all the safety precautions; this includes wearing safety goggles, gloves and boots, as well as wearing long sleeves and keeping a first-aid kit at hand.