Learn to Build – Mixing Concrete and Mortar

How to Build – Mixing Concrete and Mortar


Mixing Yourself


Firstly let me digress a little and talk about the mixer (the machine not the man/woman).

Don’t waste money hiring one. This would cost you £30 plus per week and every time it rained you would be watching your money go down the drain whilst sheltering.

You would also be tempted to rush to save money. We found the cheapest and best at Northern Tool Equipment.co.uk

Buy one, use it, keep it clean and if you haven’t been smitten by the building bug at the end you can sell it for at least half what you paid. Now the actual concrete.

The most common and very hard mix is the 1:3:4 this equates to 1 part cement, 3 parts sand, 4 parts gravel (18 – 22mm) or get gravel 22mm down to dust.

This is like sand & gravel ready mixed, you just add the cement and water, 1 shovel of cement to around 8 shovels of 22mm down.

This may sound a lot of ballast to cement but, the actual22mm gravel doesn’t count.

You are really only mixing the cement with the sand content.

Think of it as the sand & cement mortar as sticking the gravel stones together.

Always start by adding a good half bucket of water to the mixer before shovelling in the sand/gravel.

This helps to stop the mixture from forming a hard blob at the back of the mixer.

After adding your first 6 – 8 shovels, add 2 full shovels of cement (half a 25kg bag ) and continue to add the remaining 6 – 8 shovels of ballast…keep gradually adding a little water to get the desired ‘fatty’ mix.

Not too runny, a dryer mix is stronger than a wet one.

Be careful when adding the water, add just a little at a time and keep back, it will spit at you, I promise!Wet sand & grit in your eye hurts like hell.

The addition of a plasticiser will give you more working time with the concrete.

Follow the same procedure when mixing mortar for laying blocks or bricks except leave out the gravel, and use a ratio of 1:4 – 1:6cement to sand (common yellow building sand) When mixing mortar for bricklaying you can add powder colour to the mix whilst mixing for an old or aesthetic effect if desired.

If you ever get a build-up of dry mixture at the back of the mixer drum, never try to break it up with your shovel whilst the mixer is revolving, it could swing you around and break your arm or worse.

The best place that we found for cement, sand and other products was Wickes. We bought 10 bags of cement at a time and got a great price, (and they deliver).

Get one of their store cards and get more discounts.

Always pay any card off in full each month and avoid paying interest charges.

Never be tempted to spend more than you will be able to pay off, unless you are going to sell the house at the end of the project,and consider the card to be aloan. Usually a high cost loan.