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July 20th 2020

How to Mix Cement: Everything you need to know

Mixing cement is one of the most useful skills a person can have. With concrete people can make a wide range of foundations, walls, floors, paving slabs, patios, general masonry, garden paths and much more.

However, mixing cement comes with its share of challenges. The real problem is that many people make common mistakes while preparing their mix. Here we discuss those mistakes and provide some tips to avoid them.

What is necessary for the correct mixing of cement is the following:

  • cement
  • gravel
  • water
  • sand

It is usually possible to buy a concrete mix that is ready to go. However, it is also possible to find the separate components and then mix them all together.

The key to a successful mix is getting the ratios right. The correct ratio will depend on the project, but as a general mix it will be 1 part cement, 2 parts sand and 3 parts aggregate.

1. Use the right tools

The best tool for the job depends on the nature of each individual project. It is extraordinary how people reliably fail to take this into account.

Essentially, if a person is doing a relatively small project, there is not much need for extensive tools or equipment. However, if there is a large surface area that will change. Such a situation may occur in industrial projects.

Essential equipment for mixing cement include the following:

  • Mixing area: People can mix concrete in a wheelbarrow, a common choice, but can also use a simple plastic bowl or tub. Some people also use a wooden mixing board. Wet the surface slightly before adding the cement.
  • Spade: A shovel or spade is very useful, and is essential in this case. Mixing the cement requires a sturdy tool to chop the mix and stir it. People should try to find a spade with a long handle.
  • Tarpaulin: Concrete can be very messy, and getting it on the floor is not a good idea as it will harden and ultimately become stuck to the surface. It is also not good for grass. People should use a tarpaulin and mix their concrete on top of it to avoid any issues.

By using the appropriate tools people can give themselves the best chance of success. Additional tools include a brick trowel, which can be useful for mixing small amounts of concrete.

It is very important to take care when working with concrete. The correct tools not only help make the job a success but add to safety as well.

2. Practice good safety

The initial thought of concrete does not necessarily conjure up images of an unsafe environment. The real issue, seemingly, will be the final product itself. However, this is not true.

Cement is initially a very coarse and dry powder, but it is essentially crushed up bits of rock – which can be dangerous. This rock can be similar to limestone or chalk, but most people will use a chemically pure product most common in modern cement. Breathing in this powder comes with some risks.

Getting the right safety equipment is essential. People should make sure that they use the following:

  • Mask: Using a mouth protector will help people avoid inhaling any harmful particulate. It is wise to put on a mask at every stage when the cement is still in powder form.
  • Goggles: Similarly to using a mouth protector, using goggles will protect a person from any stray bits of cement and protect the eyes from damage in case of an accident while mixing.
  • Gloves: Another handy and useful piece of safety equipment is gloves. Make sure they are very thick and are long enough to be able to cover the entire hand and some of the arm area.

The main safety problem with cement is that it has a high pH balance, which means that it could potentially burn the skin. People should ideally avoid all contact with the substance while using it, wherever possible.

By following these safety tips people will find that they are far more likely to avoid any issues. If something happens, people can rinse their skin to avoid burns. People can also rinse their eyes if cement powder accidentally gets in them before or during mixing.

3. Don’t use too much water!

Water is essential to concrete, but If there is one single tip to take away, it would be not to use too much water. Start with just a little bit and then add some more if necessary.

Water allows the cement to solidify, providing the reaction necessary for the mixture to harden. The less water a person uses, the weaker the strength of the mix.

People can try using a larger amount of water when they are doing projects that involve less of a solid cure, such as formwork. However, when a project involves foundations a thicker and more durable mix is necessary.

4. Prepare to finish and seal

It can be difficult for people to finish their concrete nicely. This is why many people use our finishing services for more professional craftsmanship and the best finish.

Most people will not do a polished finish themselves, but they may apply some sort of finishing such as paint. The main thing most people have to remember about finishing concrete after mixing it is that it will require proper sealing.

To seal properly, concrete needs to be dry – which is ordinarily a 28 day process. People should make sure that there are no signs of water before applying their sealant.

The perfect cement mix and finish

There you have some tips and tricks to mix cement effectively. If a person is mixing cement with these points in mind they are much more likely to have a successful outcome.

Mixing cement can be a tricky thing to get right. For the best and most consistent mix, and the best looking finish, contact us for a quote on your project.

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