Whether you need to pour a concrete slab, a driveway, a countertop, a floor or build a wall – it all starts with mixing concrete. For large projects, you will want to consider ordering concrete by the yard. However, for most projects around the house, farm or barn, you will be better off making concrete yourself. In this article, we will introduce the different concrete tools and equipment that you will want to consider when pouring concrete.
Electric Concrete and Cement Mixer
When you think of large construction sites and huge concrete mixing machines at this point, you probably have not yet come across the smaller, more affordable electric concrete mixers for DIY uses. Thanks to low 3-digit price tags, these machines combine the convenience and quality edge of an automated concrete mixing process with a good affordability and high level of mobility. If you are working on a mid-size project in your backyard or need to produce concrete frequently for your yard or estate, it will be well worth the initial investment when you take time-savings and convenience into account.
These machines come in different sizes, usually around 2.5 cubic feet to 5 cubic feet. The smaller ones can produce around 8 gallons (30 liters) while the larger mixers are good for more than 20 gallons (c. 75 liters and more). Electric cement mixers usually come on heels and they can be dismantled for transportation purposes.
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Manual and Semi-automated Concrete mixing
If you consider the aforementioned mixing machines oversized for your needs, you will want to go for a manual or semi-manual concrete making method. Thus, you will need some (semi-)manual tools to produce and pour concrete:
A Wheelbarrow, a Bucket or a Tub
First of all, you need equipment to bring the cement, sand, the aggregates and water together. Usually, this involves a bucket or wheelbarrow that will store the ingredients while you mix them and add water.
While the wheelbarrow allows for some mobility even when the concrete is already mixed, it limits the amount of concrete that you can produce at a time. Larger buckets or tubs resolve this capacity issue but come with the disadvantage of not being mobile.
The cheapest and quickest way is a mixing sheet: you unfold it on the ground, pour the ingredients on top of it, add water and fold it together with the help of another person. While this is easy, inexpensive and quick, it obviously involves a second person and limits the capacity as well.
|A concrete mixing tub.|
|A concrete mixing sheet.|
Cement Mixing Poles
If you are working in your backyard, a shovel or a hoe is probably not that far away. Both do perfectly well in most projects as well as for quick fixes. However, if you prefer a faster and more efficient method, you will want to consider a mixing pole.
Manual Concrete Mixers
A manual mixing pole is the inexpensive type of mixing poles: it looks like a kitchen blender attached to a long pole and it is used to mingle the different ingredients. However, thanks to its shape, it is a more efficient mixing tool than a shovel while it sets you back only a few bucks.
Powered Mixing Poles
While the manual mixing pole is the perfect tool for small projects and the concrete mixer is second to none for large projects, the powered mixing pole is the answer to projects somewhere in the middle. It is still affordable but provides some convenience and a high level of efficiency for mixing concrete in a wheelbarrow or bucket. If you need to mingle several buckets of concrete within a day, you will be appreciating these advantages.
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Boundaries and Molds
When you are pouring concrete, you will want to make sure that the slab, driveway, pathway or floor retains a certain shape. To achieve this, you can choose from different options:
- Build a form with wooden slats that you fix to each other (use good screws and make sure there is no gap between the slats),
- Use plastic boundaries, and
- Pour the concrete into molds.
One of the most convenient and flexible methods is to set borders for your area by using plastic boundaries. You can order them for a few dollars and easily define the borders of your work area. They are also reusable if you clean them properly.
|Boundaries / Forms|
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Molds for Concrete Pouring
If your project involves creating a driveway, a pathway or another type of surface that should have a certain form or structure, molds are the perfect answer to your requirements. You lay them out in your working area, pour concrete into the shapes and remove the plastic once the concrete starts hardening, usually after a few hours or a day (refer to the instructions for further details).
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Thus, you can achieve a certain pattern of pathway surfaces and allow water to drain through the gap between the poured concrete elements. Molds are an easy-to-use economical alternative to industrially produced concrete pathway elements that you could buy in DIY stores.
Once you have completed the concrete pouring, you will want to smoothen the surface and enhance the appearance of the edges of your slab. A couple of inexpensive hand tools will help you do that job efficiently:
When you need to distribute the concrete paste evenly or smoothen the surface before it hardens, a trowel will be the right tool to use. It helps you move or press concrete and achieve a uniform surface.
If your working area is too large to smoothen its entire surface with a finishing trowel, bull floats will be the right alternative. They can be mounted to a pole and help you pursue the same goal: distributing the concrete evenly and enhance the surface of your concrete slab.
Patty Knives / Scrapers
Although scrapers are not essential if you are already using the previously introduced tools, they will be of great use for the enhancement of details and corners of the poured concrete slabs.
If you aim to have rounded edges and corners, this is the type of tool you will want to use. Thanks to its rounded shape, it will help you form the edges of your freshly poured slab or driveway.
Finishing, Sanding and Polishing Concrete
Once your concrete has hardened – usually around 28 days after laying it out – you probably want to improve the appearance of its surface. While you can sand smaller areas by hand, you will want to use a sander/grinder/polisher (these terms are often used interchangeably). Learn the details in our article on how to sand and polish concrete and read our buying guide and expert reviews of the best concrete finishing tools in 2019.
Working with concrete is not a rocket science if you know how to do it and if you have access to the right tools. In this article, we have introduced the most common concrete mixing and processing tools that you can apply for your concrete work. If you need to sand the poured concrete surface, make sure you have read our expert reviews before ordering your concrete polisher.
Get your tools and equipment ready before you start your project. Good luck!