Mixing Concrete


Mixing without first giving it some thought will likely make the job harder and can, in some cases, ruin the finished product. I want to differentiate between concrete and cement based products. For our purposes I define concrete as anything that has rocks it in. When mixing concrete you will need a few tools.

Mixers, Mortar Pans or Wheelbarrows?
First you need a container to mix in. A wheelbarrow works well. If you don’t have one, buy an inexpensive plastic mortar pan. If the job is large enough you should seriously consider renting a mixer. If you have a pickup with a hitch you can rent a large one. If not rent a small electric one. You can put it in the back of truck, minivan or car trunk if you don’t mind leaving the lid open. The mixer can really make life easier. If you mix in a wheelbarrow of mortar pan the best tool is a hoe; one with holes. This gives better mixing and less resistance. A shovel will work in a pinch.

Use a Drill and Mixing Paddle
If the product doesn’t have rocks in it then I highly recommend you use a ½ inch drill with a paddle (about 18-24 inches long). The paddles are inexpensive and can be found in any hardware store that sells paint. Using a 5 gallon bucket add about ¾ of the required water to the bucket. Then add the material slowly while the paddle is turning. Add the remainder of the water as needed. This works better if you have two people. Also hold onto the bucket tightly or the handle with whip around and smack your shins (I speak from experience). It is likely that you will sling some material so always wear pants, shoes, gloves and goggles.

Add the Right Amount of Water
No discussion on mixing is complete without strongly urging you to read the directions. Especially the amount of water to use. An invaluable tool for measuring water is a gallon milk jug. This allows you to really control what is going in. Many people use a garden hose and add water until it looks right. This will lead to big problems. The strength of the product and the finish depend entirely on how much water you add.


  • Lynne

    I'm filling cracks in a side walk. I have a 40 lbs back of high strenght concrete mix. My question is how much water do I put in if I'm using only half a bag?
  • Lee-Technical Service

    HP, it depends on which product you are talking about. If you are asking how soon can I start hanging fence? If you are using the Fast Setting Concrete Mix you can set all your post that morning and then start hanging the fence in the evening. If you are using High Strength Concrete Mix then you will need to wait at least 24 hours before you start putting up your fence. If you have a gate to hang as well then you will need to wait 24 hours when using the Fast setting Concrete mix and 7 days if you are using the High Strength Concrete Mix.
  • HP

    Replacing a wood fence with white vinyl - how long should It take for post hole to cure if I use one bag per post
  • Lee-Technical Service

    Randy, you will need to get a recommended footer size from the headstone manufacturer, Because one bag is not going to be enough to make a sufficient footer. Find out what size they recommend and then get those dimensions to us and we will calculate how much material you will need.
  • Randy

    Doing a footer for a headstone. The Headstone is 3 by 1 foot by 2 inch thick. Stone is going to go ground level so4 inches deep. Would 1 bag 80 lb high strength concrete mix be plenty
  • Lee-Technical Service

    David, that would require a custom mix. We would not have a recommendation on the type of mix that you would need for that application. You could try to look online for a custom formula.
  • David

    I have a crushed lava stone walk in my garden. I would like to mix lava stone with a concrete product and pour it into a frame to make it more permanent. What product do you recommend. Any idea on proportions?
  • Lee-Technical Service

    MikeC, it really depends on what you are going to use the slab for. A typical slab is around 4" thick and it never hurts to add the mesh. If you are planning on putting a major load on this slab like a hot tub or driveway extension for vehicle traffic, then you will want to go 6" or thicker. It really would just depend on the use and the load that is going to put on the slab.
  • MikeC

    For an approx. 6' x 4' slab, using the High Strength mix, would you recommend 3" or 4" depth? Also, would you recommend using mesh?
  • Lee-Technical Service

    Johne, our High Strength Concrete Mix weighs approximately 146 lbs per cubic foot. The only material that we have that is lighter is the Maximizer Concrete Mix which is around 100 lbs per cubic foot.
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