Wheelbarrow, bucket, or mixer: how to mix up a batch of concrete

Wheelbarrow, bucket, or mixer: how to mix up a batch of concrete
You don't really need an industrial mixer like this one to mix up a batch of concrete. Or mortar. Or tile grout. When it comes to mixing any cement-like material, the process is essentially the same. If you'd like the thrill of renting a big mixer, I don't blame you. They're bad ass. But there are other ways to do it.

A couple things to remember before getting started:

Wear gloves. Cement will dry out your hands like nothing else.

Wear eye goggles. Cement will dry out your eyes like nothing else.  


1. The old hoe and wheelbarrow method: Mixing up a batch of concrete with a hoe and wheelbarrow is pretty simple. You need a hoe and a wheelbarrow, and that's it. Dump a bag of cement in the wheelbarrow, add the amount of water recommended on the bag, and get to mixing.

2. The drill, paddle, and bucket method: You need to rent a heavy-duty drill for this one, and you'll also need a paddle and bucket. I've mixed concrete a few different ways, and this has been by far the fastest. Fill a bucket a little less than halfway with cement from the bag. Add a little water and start the drill in the bottom. Don't add too much water right away or it'll splash everywhere. You'll know the concrete is ready when it starts to swirl pretty evenly, like this:

It's easier to do than using the hoe and wheelbarrow, and actually faster than most mixers you can rent.

But like I said, don't resist the urge if you want to hitch that big mixer to the back of your truck and take it home for a day of big-time cement/concrete mixing. If you've got a whole driveway to pour, you'll need it. There's nothing like the thrill of using real heavy machinery to do a job, whatever it is. And there's nothing like cleaning that heavy machinery before bringing it back to the rental house. They'll charge you otherwise.


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zjimbo on Apr 20, 2012:

You should always put the water in first. This will keep down splash and the cement is ot stuck on the bottom. Simply put your foot to hold the bueket.

Senseless on Jan 01, 2007:

I just traced the top of the bucket on the plywood then drew another circle 1/4 inside of it and cut it out on the scroll saw.  The taper of the bucket locks it in.

alexrussell on Jan 01, 2007:

Brilliant idea from Senseless. Especially if you're going to mix up a lot. I've had my share of bruised shins from the bucket method. The only solution I've found to this point is gripping hard with my heels and starting the drill slow until the mixture gets going. But forget that. I'm fabbing up one of these next time.


Senseless on Jan 01, 2007:

Bucket HolderI made a bucket holder from some scrap wood and some screws.  It does a pretty good job of holding a bucket so it doesn't spin on you when you start the drill up.


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