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.
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