HOW TO MIX CONCRETE by hand

diy how to mix concrete at home

I'll teach you my method of how to mix concrete: to get the proper firmness, texture, and strength.

tools you need for mixing concrete

Warning: Always wear safety gloves, safety goggles, and a dust mask when working with concrete.

Materials used for mixing concrete

  1. Concrete bag mix
  2. Water
  3. Portland cement - sand - gravel - optional if you're mixing concrete from scratch.

Video: shows you how mix concrete by hand using quikrete

Owner Mike Day of Day's Concrete Floors shows you how to properly mix concrete to repair a broken section of pool deck.

step by step: how to mix concrete

step 1. set up your mixing area

If you're mixing multiple bags of concrete it's a lot easier and faster if you have your mixing area organized.

If you're only mixing one or two bags (like in the video) then all you need is your bag(s) of concrete, wheelbarrow, water, hoe.

On bigger projects it's important to get all your bags in order and have plenty of water on hand. Having 2 people mixing and one spreading and smoothing the concrete makes the work go a lot faster.

How to mix concrete

step 2. measure the proper amount of water

I like to pre-measure the amount of water needed per bag and add it to the wheelbarrow first. 

I feel putting the water in first, then adding the dry concrete ingredients, makes the mixing process easier and faster.

how much mixing water to mix concrete

The water table below shows you how much water to use per bag. 

Depending on the bag size, there's a range of water you can add for mixing.

For and 80 lb. bag of Quikrete, you can use 6 pints to 9 pints (3 - 4.5 quarts) of water to mix each bag.

I like to add the minimum amount to the wheelbarrow first, then add more water up to the maximum if I feel it needs it to get a good workable mixture.

If you use more water than the maximum amount recommended, then your concrete mix will not be as strong as advertised on the bag. 

mixing water for Quikrete

step 3. add the bag mix to your wheelbarrow (tub, bucket, or mixer)

how to mix Quikrete

Add about 1/2 to 2/3's of the bag mix into the wheelbarrow. Mix that amount with the water until all the dry ingredients are saturated. 

Add the rest of the bag and keep mixing. Use this same technique if you're mixing in a bucket or a tub.

If you're mixing in an electric concrete mixer machine, then you can add the whole bag at one time.

how to mix bags of concreteMix half to two-thirds of the bag first then add the rest

step 4. mix the concrete to a workable consistency

Add the remainder of the bag and continue to mix the concrete. Move the hoe back and forth completely mixing the dry concrete mix with the water.

how to mix concrete by handToo dry - add more water and keep mixing

Add more water (up to the maximum amount) until you get your desired consistency.

Your concrete mix should look similar to the concrete below when it's mixed properly.

It took me about 3 minutes to measure and add the water, then mix the 1 bag of concrete to this texture. 

Be careful not to get the mix too wet or it's more likely to crack and won't be as strong.

If you feel the concrete mix is too runny (wet) just add some more concrete mix from another bag until you feel it looks like the picture below.

PRO TIP: Always have an extra bag of concrete on hand just in case your project takes more concrete than you expected it to.

how to mix concrete in a wheelbarrowThis is what a good workable consistency looks like

step 5. place the mixed concrete where you need it

A good thing about mixing concrete in a wheelbarrow is you can wheel the concrete right where you need it.

Dump the concrete out of the wheelbarrow or shovel it out, like I'm doing on this job.

how to mix concrete

One way you can tell if you mixed the concrete properly is if you can move the concrete in place using a mag float and float it smooth going back and forth over it a few times.

how to mix concrete by hand

step 6. clean the concrete off your tools as soon as possible

Clean the wheelbarrow, hoe, and shovel with water as soon as you finish. The concrete mix will dry on them very quickly. 

PRO TIP: If the concrete mixture dries on your tools, use a margin trowel to scrape it off first, then rinse and scrub with water.

If you have a water hose and a stiff bristle brush nearby, rinse off the bulk of the concrete first, scrub the remaining cement paste, and rinse clean.

Do this in an area you don't have to clean up the washed off concrete afterwards. Never wash off concrete onto your driveway or garage floor, it could permanently stain it.

how to mix concrete in a bucket

how to mix concrete with a drill

When I mix concrete in a  bucket, I like to have an over-sized bucket like this 18 gallon bucket in the picture. (best place to buy this is on Amazon)

I also like to use a mixing drill to mix my bags of concrete. A mixing drill like this one makes the mixing process very fast and is really the only way to mix concrete using a bucket.

The mixing process is the same as above: Add your water first, add 1/2 bag and mix, add remainder of bag and mix, add water up to the max. amount if needed. 

how to mix concrete in a mixer

If you're using an electric concrete mixer machine it'll speed up the mixing process because you can mix 2 - 3 bags of concrete at one time. (depending on the size of your mixer)

How to mix concrete in a mixer

The Mixing Process Goes Like This:

  1. Pre-measure your water and add it to the mixer first.
  2. Turn on the mixer before you add the first bag of concrete
  3. Add the first bag and let it mix for a minute (2 minutes if you're only mixing one bag)
  4. Add the second bag and continue to mix for 2 - 3 minutes
  5. If the mix looks too dry add a little water as it's mixing (only add water up to the max. amount)
how to mix concrete in an electric mixer

When the concrete looks mixed to the right consistency, dump it out of the mixer and into a wheelbarrow.

You can buy a really good portable electric concrete mixer machine on Amazon for $200 to $300 dollars.

what is the ratio for mixing concrete?

How do you mix your own concrete? 

If you're using Portland cement, sand, and gravel to make your own concrete, you can use the 1-2-3 mixing ratio.

This concrete mixing ratio is done by mixing 1 shovel of cement with 2 shovels of sand and 3 shovels of gravel. (or some other accurate way to measure your ingredients)

Add the dry ingredients into a wheelbarrow or the electric mixer before you start adding water.

When you add more dry material to the mix, keep the 1:2:3 ratio of cement to sand to gravel the same for consistency and strength.

The amount of water you add to the mix will be based on how the mix feels while you're mixing it. Use the wheelbarrow method above to judge how the final mix should look.

For more examples of proper concrete mix proportions check out my concrete mixing ratios for mixing concrete from cement, sand, gravel, and water. 

Learn how many bags of concrete it takes to make a cubic yard.

what's the best type of concrete mix to use for:

1. Best concrete mix for a driveway is:

2. Best concrete mix for concrete countertops

3. Best concrete mix for fence posts

4. Best concrete mix for a patio

5. Best concrete mix for sidewalks

6. Best concrete mix for footings

7. Best concrete mix for slabs

Quikrete 5000 or Quikrete Crack Resistant Mix

Quikrete 5000 (add 2 cups cement)

Quikrete Regular or Fast Setting Mix

Quikrete Crack Resistant Mix

Quikrete Crack Resistant Mix

Quikrete Regular Mix

Quikrete 5000, Crack Resistant, or Regular

This list is my opinion only based off my experience using Quikrete Concrete mixes for my jobs.

Sometimes I'll mix 1/2 a bag of Quikrete 5000 with one of the other bag mixes because it has a higher ratio of cement in it. This makes the overall mixture a little easier to finish.


Go from How to mix concrete to Concrete Slab

Go to Home Page