How to Choose the Best Concrete Mix

Planning a concrete project is easy, but knowing which mix to choose for the job can be challenging.

Not sure about the best concrete mix to use? Don’t worry — it’s as easy as 1-2-3, especially with Quikrete Concrete Mix, Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete and Quikrete Countertop Mix, three of the most popular options.

If you use the right concrete mix and cure the project properly, you’ll have the best-looking, longest-lasting concrete.

Man trowels on concrete for a slab
Planning a patio, pool or sidewalk? Choose Quikrete Concrete Mix for big jobs. (Photo: Quikrete)

Quikrete Concrete Mix

Quikrete’s original concrete mix is a blend of portland cement, sand and gravel or stone, and it’s perfect for general concrete work.

If you’ve got projects at least 2 inches thick, choose this mix. So, whether you’re planning a patio or building foundation walls, concrete floors, steps or curbs, grab the yellow bag! It’s also ideal for casting pools, sidewalks, birdbaths and downspout troughs.

Just mix water and Quikrete Concrete Mix in a barrel-type concrete mixer or a mortar mixer. Or empty concrete bags into a mixing container and hand-mix with water.

Either way, follow the package’s directions to determine the water content and get the best results.

Man cures concrete with a hose
Water curing a new slab can mean the difference between weak and strong concrete. (DepositPhotos)

Mixing isn’t the only key to success. Curing — continuously moisturizing concrete with lawn sprinklers, nozzles or soaker hoses — increases the concrete’s strength and durability.

Concrete needs the right amount of moisture to prevent shrinkage and thermal cracks.

The easiest way to cure concrete is to grab a gardening hose and spray the concrete down with water.

Do this as soon and often as possible, at least 3-4 times a day. Cure the concrete at least five days during warm weather (70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) or seven days during colder weather (50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit).

More Information:

Man pours Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete Mix into a post hole while building a fence.
Fast-Setting Concrete Mix is perfect for small projects that don’t require much concrete. (Photo: Quikrete)

Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete (In the Red Bag)

Think of this concrete mix — which contains fast-setting cements, sand and gravel — as an efficient alternative to regular concrete mix.

That’s because you don’t have to mix it for most projects. Just pour the dry mix into a hole and soak with water — couldn’t be easier! Also, it sets hard in 20 to 40 minutes. (But work quickly, and only mix as much material as you can place in 20 minutes.)

Danny Lipford digs into the ground with a post hole digger
Fast-Setting Concrete Mix can handle all of your post-setting projects. If you have a lot of those, consider purchasing a post hole digger.

Fast-setting concrete mix is perfect for setting basketball posts, deck posts, fence posts, lamp posts and mailbox posts. (Just about any post!) The red bag’s also ideal for setting swing sets and building concrete appliance pads and steps.

Now, if you’re pouring a slab, you will need to mix fast-setting concrete and water in a barrel-type concrete mixer or a mortar mixer. Or you can hand-mix the ingredients. Again, follow the package’s directions to determine the water content to get the best results.

Air conditioner unit resting on a concrete pad
Every air conditioner condenser needs a concrete pad to rest on, and you can make one — fast — with Fast-Setting Concrete.

But you’re still saving time, thanks to the fast-setting ingredients! If you pour a slab, you can walk on it just two hours after pouring. And in just four hours you can place heavy objects, such as appliances, on the slab.

More Information:

Quikrete Countertop Mix
Quikrete Countertop Mix is fine and gives a smoother finish compared to other concrete mixes.

Quikrete Countertop Mix

Concrete countertops are durable, economical and match just about any home’s style. But when it comes to casting concrete countertops, not just any mix will do. Quikrete Concrete Countertop Mix was made for this type of project — it’s fine compared to other mixes and gives a smoother finish.

Concrete Countertop Mix, in the blue bag, has super-plasticizer, a special ingredient that helps the mix flow better, and prevents shrinking, cracking and air bubbles. In addition, it requires minimal vibrations and self-consolidates.

You can mix Concrete Countertop Mix in a barrel-type concrete mixer or a mortar mixer. Just add about 1 gallon of fresh water for every 80-pound bag of concrete mix to the mixer. You should machine-mix for at least three minutes, or until you get a flowable mix.

Concrete countertop in an outdoor kitchen
A traditional gray countertop is always eye-catching. Or, for a unique look, you can add glass or colored stones to the concrete mix before casting the countertop.

Quikrete Countertop Mix comes in gray or a light-colored tint base. It’s your home, so have fun with this project!

While a traditional gray countertop is attractive and modern, you can add glass or colored stone to the mixture. Or use tint base and add Quikrete Liquid Cement Color to the mixing water. Just follow the package’s directions for the best results.

Concrete Countertop Mix has its own special curing process. Optimal curing involves tenting the project with plastic sheeting as soon as possible. You’ll need to strip the forms in 18 hours.

More Information:

Applying Quikrete Concrete Resurfacer with a squeegee on a concrete slab
Indoors or outdoors, you can fix minor imperfections with Quikrete Re-Cap Concrete Resurfacer.

These are just some of the popular concrete mixes on the market. For instance, if you’re not building but repairing something, the easiest fix is Quikete Re-Cap Concrete Resurfacer.

Concrete resurfacer is a thin concrete mix that’s designed for easy application to cover hairline cracks and other minor imperfections to make an old concrete slab look brand new.

Learn more about Quikrete products, and tell us which concrete projects you’ve tackled in the comments!

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