Mixing concrete can be a challenge, but it can be done without hiring a concrete professional. However, there are three points to consider before creating a concrete mix. You have to decide how you are going to mix your concrete, by hand or machine. You also have to prepare or "form up" your site, and then, you need to know how to pour the concrete into the forms.
The summary of how to plan a concrete project is outlined below:
Decide How You Will Mix Your Concrete
Mixing concrete is not the hardest job in the world, but it does require some dedication. You will need to decide if it is worth it for you to save about 10-20% over hiring a professional. Some advantages of doing it yourself are the satisfaction of creating something on your own. Also, you can create your own outdoor concrete sidewalk art if you want to. The best part of mixing concrete can be molding and shaping the concrete from its powder form, into a usable form. Also, mixing concrete can remind you of times when you were a child, and you played in wet sand or mud.
Mixing The Concrete
If you really are up to mixing your own concrete, you are going to need to know how to make it. It consists of 1 part Portland cement, sand, and crushed stone, to 24 parts water. If you need a mixture, you can by a small drum style mixer for under $300. You can reinforce the strength of your concrete with special fibers. You can ask for these at the desk where you would normally buy a ready-made concrete mix. Another item you can ask for is air entrainment. You can either have the ready made concrete company do this for you, or you can use an air hose if you have one. The pressure should help send a steady stream of air bubbles into your mixture. This will reduce concrete flaking as a result of frost.
Prepare The Site
If you live in a frost-prone area you will find this information most useful. Start preparing your site by replacing the soil directly under the area with a compacted layer of crushed stone. This improves drainage, and eliminates the frost heaving hazard. You should go about 6 to 12 inches under. This does not replace all the soil under the frost line, but it will remove the most active soil. The reason you have to do this is because soil freezes. Frozen soil causes concrete flaking. Therefore it is wise to following these instructions if you live in a frost inducing area. Then, use a gas powered compactor to compact the stone. This will help prevent any settling. Next you will have to build concrete forms. Two by six (2x6) concrete forms are ideal for most patio and sidewalk applications. Please look up concrete forming at your local library for further instruction on how to build a concrete form.
Pour The Concrete
Once your concrete form is built, you will then be able to pour your mixed concrete into it. Work the concrete into the corners with a garden rake. Then, halfway up the sides of the form. Then, lay some mesh down. After the steel mesh is laid, lay more concrete over it. For further mixing and pouring instructions, please search your local library or the Internet for complete concrete planning.
This is not a complete list of what to think about before beginning a concrete project. However, this article will help you decide how to plan for your concrete project. There is a lot involved in this, and you have to know what you are doing. Another option to preparing concrete slabs is to either buy ready mix. Also, you can hire cement drivers, and have someone build the form for you.
However, if you enjoy playing with mud like substances this concrete job is definitely for you. Even if you only save 10-20% of what it would cost to buy ready mix concrete, at least you are saving money. It can cost thousands of dollars to hire contractors to do this for you. 10-20% saved would be at least a few hundred dollars. This is more money that can be used elsewhere. Not only that, but this project is more fun!