What’s the Perfect Concrete Mixture?

Ok, anyone whos had to mix and make their own concrete knows it can not only be back-breaking work but it can also be tough to get the right consistency. The first time I attempted to make my own concrete, it turned out like stew. Now unless its supposed to be some kind of joint slurry, this is obviously not the right consistency.

Weve probably all read or heard from somewhere the experts perspective on the perfect water:sand:gravel:cement ratio, and Im not here to say theres anything wrong with the perfect ratio. Obviously, where the concrete will be exposed to vehicular traffic or when its structural, its extremely important to get the mixture just right. But for many DIY projects, such disciplined mixtures arent always necessary. Having said that cement mixturehowever, this doesnt mean the ratio of these different elements are not important to consider. Lets talk about how the above ratio affects the overall picture:

1. More water equals better workability in terms of you being able to move the mixture where you want it. Downside: Aside from excessive water weakening the concrete (yes, that’s right), if overly runny, it wont be able to maintain the shape and position you give it.

2. Not enough water or too much of the dry components equals inferior workability, resulting in you not being able to shape your mixture. This could also hinder your ability to give the work a smooth finish if this is desired.

I have found that for different projects a different mixture is oftentrowel_mortar suitable. For laying larger flagstones or tiles, Ive had better results when using a slightly wetter mixture. When laying the stone, you initially place your mortar on the (prepared) ground, spreading it out appropriately. You then place the slab on the mortar you just spread and tamp it down.

The problem arises when theres a see-saw motion somewhere between the 4 corners of your stone AFTER you’ve tamped it down. If this happens you simply have no choice but to remove the stone and attempt to create a more even surface. If youve ever tried this you might know what Im talking about, but once the mortars been compacted, it can be rather torturous to reshape.

So my solution would be to simply make a wetter mixture and when I place the stone in the mortar the first time around, itll be soft enough to move and reshape alongside the bottom surface of the stone, hopefully creating a good match without air-pockets. The key is to try to get it right the first time as once its been compacted, mortar is difficult to reshape. The added wetness in consistency will aid you in this as you level it into the mortar.

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