How To Make Concrete

With a mixture of cement, sand, coarse aggregates and water, you can make concrete and we show you exactly how.
Written By: David White | Updated:
How To Mix Concrete
David White/DIY Works

Concrete is relatively easy to mix up yourself at home, and although it’s possible to make concrete using a “ready-to-use” mixture, it isn’t the most cost-effective solution. This is primarily because you’ll pay two to three times more per cubic metre of concrete when compared to a mixture that you’ve mixed yourself.

Therefore, making your own concrete from scratch is well worth the time and effort. Whether you are undertaking a garden project or a DIY repair in your house, in this article, we walk you through the process of making concrete by mixing it within a bucket instead of a mixer. We’ve also included pictures of each step and a video to show what the concrete mix looks like.

Mixing in a Bucket or Cement Mixer

Although you can make concrete by hand, it isn’t the most efficient method of mixing it up, and it’s also hard and time-consuming work. Therefore, most people will opt to mix concrete in a bucket with a paddle mixer or use a cement mixer. However, depending upon the size of your project will determine the best and most efficient method.

What is Concrete Made of?

Concrete is made by mixing cement, sand, and coarse aggregates with water, and the amount of each material you need will depend on the size of the job.

To get the mix right, you’ll need to follow the instructions provided with the materials you bought (usually on the wrapper at the back).

Although the mix doesn’t have to be precisely measured out, too much of either of the materials may affect its consistency.

How To Make Concrete

David White/DIY Works

What You’ll Need

  • Bucket
  • Paddle mixer
  • Trowel
  • Sand
  • Cement
  • Aggregates
  • Water
  • Extension lead (optional)

How To Mix Concrete


1. Pour Sand & Aggregates Into The Bucket

To begin your concrete mix, you’ll first need to pour sand and your aggregates into the bucket. In terms of the amount you need to pour into the bucket, it depends upon what strength you are trying to achieve.

As a general guide, a standard concrete mix is approximately 2 parts sand and 4 parts aggregates to 1 part cement. However, if you are making a concrete mix for a project that requires extra strength, you would want to use additional sand and aggregates.

Depending upon the size of the project and whether or not you have anyone giving you a hand, it’s advised that you only measure up half of the concrete mix. This will give you enough time to lay the concrete and ensure that the mix doesn’t dry out in the bucket.

how to make cement mix

David White/DIY Works

2. Mix The Sand & Aggregates

Once you’ve added the sand and aggregates into the bucket, it’s good practice to mix the two before adding cement. To mix up the concrete, we used a paddle mixer and we would highly recommend it as opposed to mixing it by hand or a heavy-duty mixer.

3. Pour Cement Into The Bucket

After the sand and aggregates are mixed, you can add cement to make the concrete mix. As mentioned above, it’s recommended that you add 1 part cement to 2 parts sand and 4 parts aggregates to make a standard concrete mix. However, this is very much dependent upon the strength you require and the project size.

As you can see in the image, as you pour cement into the bucket, there may be a kick-up of dust. Therefore, it’s advised that you wear a protective mask and ensure there is ventilation if you are making concrete indoors.

how to mix sand and cement

David White/DIY Works

4. Mix Up The Cement In The Bucket

Before adding water to the mix, mixing the cement with the sand and aggregates beforehand is always recommended. Although optional, mixing it up beforehand will enable the water to mix better with all of the materials instead of absorbing mostly into one of the materials (i.e. mixing straight into the cement).

Once you’ve reached this stage, the mix would be similar to that of a “ready to use” concrete that just requires water. Although some extra work is required, the cost savings of making the concrete from scratch is worth the added work. It also reduces wastage because you can make the concrete mix to your exact requirements as opposed to buying a “ready to use” bag to only use a quarter of it.

How To Mix Cement

David White/DIY Works

5. Add Water To The Mix

Once the sand, cement and aggregates are mixed within the bucket, you can then begin to add water in order to make the cement. In terms of the amount of water required, there isn’t a fixed amount, but you’ll want to add small amounts into the mix at a time. After you’ve added your first portion of water, you’ll want to mix it up thoroughly before adding additional water. It’s really easy to add too much water, but you should always wait until the water is mixed through before adding more.

Once you’ve got to the stage where the concrete mix is smooth and consistent, you can continue mixing it until it’s ready to be used. However, if the concrete mix is still dry or crumbly, you’ll need to add more water. Alternatively, if the concrete mix is too runny (too much water has been added), you’ll need to add more of the materials (sand, aggregates and cement) to the mix to solidify it.

how to mix cement in a bucket

David White/DIY Works

6. Continue Mixing The Concrete

Once you are happy with your concrete mix, you’ll want to continue mixing it until it’s ready to be used. As a general rule, you’ll want to ensure you use the concrete mix within 30 to 45 minutes to avoid it setting in the bucket and becoming unusable. Attempting to lay the mix after it’s set in the bucket can cause issues once it has been laid.

Below is a video that we posted on our YouTube channel that shows us mixing the concrete in a bucket using a paddle mixer.

Cleaning The Equipment

After you finish your concrete mix, you’ll want to begin cleaning your tools and equipment before the concrete dries on them. If water doesn’t remove any of the concrete mix, you may want to try using a pressure washer to blast it away. Alternatively, you can use a bristle brush if it had started to dry on your tools before you had a chance to clean them.

Conclusion

Mixing up your own concrete isn’t the hardest DIY task to achieve, but it can be trial and error if it’s your first time doing it. Therefore, if it isn’t the perfect concrete mix the first time around, don’t give up and try it again. If you require any extra information regarding mixing up concrete, feel free to get in touch, and we’ll try to provide our assistance where possible.

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