Knowing how to mix concrete is a skill that may come in handy to round out your home improvement skills. Here are 6 steps to mixing a small batch of concrete in a wheelbarrow or portable power mixer.
Step 1 - Making preparations
In storing bags of cement you plan to use, be sure you keep them off the ground where they could become wet from sprinklers, rain, or ground moisture. Concrete that has become wet and allowed to dry will set up and become as hard as a rock. Cover your bags of cement with a tarp or plastic sheet. If you plan to rent a cement power mixer, be sure you have all your materials collected before you rent it. Get instructions from the rental center clerk on how to operate and clean the mixer.
Step 2 - Using the water component
Use a garden hose to wet down the inside of the mixer drum, if you're using a power mixer. When adding water to your dry mix, use a bucket or container that will allow you to keep track of the water you add to your dry mix. If you make additional batches you'll need to use the same proportions of dry components and water.
Step 3 - Measuring dry components
Begin loading concrete dry components of cement, sand, and gravel into your mixer. Or, if you plan to mix in a wheelbarrow, load these components into it. Use a mixture made up of 1 part Portland cement, 2 parts sand, and 3 parts gravel. If your mixture is to be used as mortar, omit the gravel and use a better grade of sand.
Step 4 - Mixing the cement
Start with small quantities of your mixture as you begin mixing, whether in a power mixer or mixing by hand in a wheelbarrow. Remember you'll be adding water. The more water you add, the greater will be the volume of your mixture and the harder it will be to mix it if you're mixing by hand. Use a small amount of water to begin, adding more as you mix. In mixing in a wheelbarrow, you'll find it more efficient and physically easier to mix if you use a garden hoe to mix water together with dry components.
Step 5 - Pouring your cement
Make smaller batches of your cement, especially if you're mixing by hand in a wheelbarrow. Remember, you'll be moving very heavy concrete, and if your wheelbarrow contains too much weight, it will become very difficult to manage it.
Step 6 - Cleaning up
When cleaning up, be sure you wash out all cement residues from the wheelbarrow, the mixer, and the tools. Otherwise, the remaining cement will harden and stick to the sides of the mixer or wheelbarrow and will be nearly impossible to remove. Plan to dispose of your cleaning water properly. It will contain cement that will need to be diluted with water from your garden hose.