What’s the Perfect Concrete Mixture?

Ok, anyone who’s 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 it’s supposed to be some kind of joint slurry, this is obviously not the right consistency.

We’ve probably all read or heard from somewhere the experts’ perspective on the perfect water:sand:gravel:cement ratio, and I’m not here to say there’s anything wrong with “the perfect ratio“. Obviously, where the concrete will be exposed to vehicular traffic or when it’s structural, it’s extremely important to get the mixture just right. But for many DIY projects, such disciplined mixtures aren’t always necessary. Having said that cement mixturehowever, this doesn’t mean the ratio of these different elements are not important to consider. Let’s 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 won’t 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, I’ve 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 there’s 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 you’ve ever tried this you might know what I’m talking about, but once the mortar’s 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, it’ll 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 it’s 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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