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How To Prepare The Right Mix For Solid Concrete Construction?

Mixed concrete is extensively used in modern construction projects. Homes, offices, driveways, sidewalks, bridges, almost every structure you see will have a portion of concrete in its foundation. 

To maintain the structure’s durability and avoid expensive repair and maintenance in the future, it is imperative to ensure that the concrete mix quality you use in the construction is up to the mark. 

It is a common misunderstanding that getting the desired concrete strength is a complicated process that professional experts can only perform. While this may hold true for huge commercial projects, concrete mixing for small-scale residential or DIY projects is a rather straightforward task and is also cost-effective. 

With the right method, you can achieve excellent concrete quality and strength with the correct method, regardless of whether it is purchased from a company or mixed on-site. 

 In this article, we have covered all the core aspects of high-quality concrete mixing, which will help you decide whether or not mixing concrete on your own is ideal for you.  

Ingredients Used In Concrete Preparation

Cement

Cement is the primary ingredient of a concrete mix. Primarily formed using superheated limestone, cement contains various elements including aluminum, iron, and silicon. 

Cement acts as adhesive in the concrete mixture and is responsible for holding the aggregate and sand together. Contrary to popular belief, higher proportions of cement in the mix will not increase the strength of concrete; it will only provide better adhesion. 

Aggregate

Ready-mix concrete is widely famous for its compressive strength and long-lasting durability. ‘Aggregates’ are the components that provide this structural integrity to the concrete mixture. 

Standard gravel often contains clay and small particles that can lead to cracks, making it inappropriate for concrete mix. Hence, finely crushed river gravel, crushed stone, or blue metal, less than 20mm in size, are the most suitable materials for mixed concrete. 

Sand

Sand is the filing agent for your concrete mix. It prevents air pockets and spaces from developing in the crushed rocks. Moreover, it adds significantly to the compressive strength of your concrete. 

One needs to make sure that the sand is clean and free from tiny particles of clay, organic material, or salt. Avoid using brickies’ or plasterers’ sand. 

Water 

As with most construction materials, water is the binding agent in the concrete mix. Without water, the entire process of mixing, forming, and finishing is impossible. 

For concrete, only use clean fresh water. A good rule of thumb is that if the water is safe to drink, it is safe to use in concrete. Bore or seawater with a high mineral content should be avoided. 

Proportions Of Ingredients In Mixed Concrete 

 Along with using good quality ingredients, it is also essential to maintain the perfect proportions of elements to get the desired consistency and strength of the concrete slab.

Usually, experts suggest maintaining a four-two-one ratio between aggregate, sand, and cement, respectively. However, it is not the ideal case for every construction project. Here is the list of concrete ratios for diverse applications. 

Application Cement Sand Coarse aggregate
Walking paths, driveways 1       2 4
Heavy-duty floors, water-retaining structures

 precast items, 

1 2 3
Post-installation 1 3 6
High-strength reinforced walls, thin columns 1 1.5 3

Water Proportions

The amount of water needed in the mix varies according to various factors such as the temperature, humidity, amount of sunlight, concrete aggregates ratio, and of course, the construction type. 

Excess use of water can lead to the weakening of the concrete and reduce the adhesive strength of cement. Hence, it is ideal for minimizing the quantity of water as much as possible. 

Essential Requirements For Concrete Mixing 

Access To Water

Since concrete mixing requires a continuous water supply, ‘water access’ is a crucial factor to consider. 

You will have to ensure that there is a water source near the concrete mixer. If not, it should be long enough to reach the mixer. Without a water supply source, you may have to buy or hire a hose. 

Access To Power/ Petrol 

If you are using an electric mixer for concrete, you will need access to electricity. 

Since the electric mixers’ power cords are extremely short (10cm), you may need an extension cord. 

On the other hand, if you are using a petrol-powered concrete mixer, you need to ensure that you have enough fuel for completing the job in one go. Keeping extra petrol at the mixing site is also recommended. 

Useful Equipment 

Here is a list of equipment that you need to keep with you during the concrete mixing process to ensure smooth operation. 

  1. Measuring Bucket 
  2. Shovel 
  3. Wheelbarrow
  4. Safety equipment – rubber gloves, safety glasses, dust masks, ear muffs. 

Closing Thoughts 

Primarily, there are two options to choose from while preparing mixed concrete for your project. You can either buy ready mix concrete or prepare your own mix at the site.

The latter is cost-friendly and prone to errors and on the other hand, the price of ready mixed concrete may be a little higher but it allows hassle-free concrete mixing with better quality. 

If you are well-versed in DIY projects and have all the necessary equipment with you, on-site mixing would be a good choice. If not, purchasing mixed concrete from a reputed company like RMS Concrete would be ideal for you. 

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