Pro Tip

Mixing Concrete by Hand

Being confident in your project timing is the most important first step. Once you start mixing, you have approximately one hour to mix and place all of your materials to avoid cold joints.

With each round of mixing taking approximately 5 minutes, you can complete a maximum of 12 rounds of mixing in that timeframe.

Assuming you’re mixing one 80# bag of concrete per batch, the output of hand mixing is capped at about 7 sq.ft. of material. If you’re planning a larger pour, consider a second mixing station or dividing the project into smaller sections.

Project Tip: Use the Sakrete App to measure, estimate and purchase materials for the job straight from your phone.

Tools Needed


Get ready to do some work!

  1. Wearing gloves and respiratory protection, place one bag in the mixing container, cut an “X” in the face of the bag and flip over to empty the bag.
  2. Form a small crater in the center of the mix.
  3. Measure the water according to the instructions on the bag. Water requirements vary slightly from mix to mix. Be precise!
  4. Pro Tip: mark the water line on the bucket to make refills for successive batches faster.
  5. Pour about 3/4 of the pre-measured water into the crater you’ve formed.
  6. Using the mixing hoe, begin incorporating the water using long back and forth strokes.
  7. Mix for 3 minutes to thoroughly consolidate the mix, slowly adding the rest of the water along the way.
  8. Let the mix rest for 1 minute.
  9. Consolidate the mix by tapping the pan or wheelbarrow with a rubber mallet.
  10. Check the consistency. A proper mix should hold together when formed into a ball but easily crumble with a light touch.
    • Concrete that is too wet will not hold together when packed into a ball – and will be weaker than the indicated strength.
    • Concrete that is too dry will pack into a ball but will “break” rather than “crumble” when touched and will be difficult to work and finish.
  11. Adjust water (if necessary) and mix for 1 additional minute to perfect the consistency.
  12. You’re ready to pour!

Project Tip: Bagged mixes are designed to be much “dryer” than concrete out of a ready mix truck. Trust the water ratios on the bag – they will yield a rich, workable mix once placed and consolidated!

Comments (4)

David Doremus says:

This is probably the most solid and reliable tips I’ve seen in a long time. But I do have 1 question. Can I use a paddle mixer and drill in a wheelbarrow mixing the concrete?

Sakrete says:

Thanks, David! You could give that a go…but you’d better have a VERY heavy-duty drill. We’ve seen a lot of drills get burned up trying to mix concrete! Better to go the manual route, unfortunately!

Randy Williams says:

Does the concrete really need to be mixed or can it be poured directly into the hole for a mailbox post?

Sakrete says:

Randy, ONLY Fast Setting Concrete can be “no-mixed” for post setting applications…all other concretes must be mixed first! Fast Setting is an awesome labor saver – just remember: water first, then concrete!

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