Top 5 Questions About Concrete

Danny Lipford spreading concrete mix inside a house
Working with concrete is easier than you may think, but proper prep, production and finishing are necessary to ensure the best results.

Working with concrete may seem complicated for the novice do-it-yourselfer, especially with different mixes and directions to follow. But with a little knowledge, it is easy to use around your home.

Here are the top five questions we receive about concrete, along with answers that will empower you to work with it.

Man pours concrete countertop mix into melamine forms
No one wants to pour concrete mix into a form and suddenly realize they don’t have enough. Always measure the project area before purchasing materials.

1. How much concrete mix do I need?

Concrete is measured in cubic feet, so measure the project area’s volume before visiting the home and garden center to purchase concrete mix.

Math isn’t necessary, but you will need the project area’s length and width in feet, and its height in inches. Then, enter those measurements in our quantity calculator.

Need more specific calculations? Try Quikrete’s calculators for concrete mix, mortar mix, fast-setting concrete, concrete crack sealant, mortar joint sealant and polymeric jointing sands, among other products. The calculator will tell you the number of bags you will need for your project.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf wears safety glasses before starting a concrete project
Wear the right personal protective equipment before working with wet concrete.

2. What are some precautions before working with concrete?

Wear personal protective equipment before you tackle any concrete project, but not just any PPE will do. Impervious gloves, such as nitrile, will keep your hands dry and prevent skin burns.

Proper eye protection also is important. Wear side shield safety glasses or anti-fog goggles to prevent dust or wet concrete from getting in your eyes.

Also, wear long-sleeve shirts and pants. Tuck those sleeves into your gloves and tuck your pants into your work boots. This will prevent any skin from contacting wet concrete.

Finally, only use concrete mix in a well-ventilated area and avoid breathing in the dust. And always store concrete mix in a well-ventilated place and tightly close the container.

Man mixes concrete mix in a wheelbarrow with a shovel
Hand-mixing concrete doesn’t take much time, but you can speed things up with a drill and mixing paddle.

3. What’s the best way to mix concrete?

You can mix concrete by hand or machine — the best method depends on the project and its size.

For hand-mixing, empty concrete mix into a wheelbarrow or mortar tub and use a hoe, or shovel, to form a depression in the middle of the mix.

Then, mix in the water. Each 80-pound bag of concrete mix requires about 3 quarts of water, so pour about two-thirds of that water into the depression.

Finally, work the water into the concrete mix with a hoe and gradually add water until you get the right consistency, similar to oatmeal.

You can hand-mix concrete with a trowel, a shovel or a hoe. Of course, if you want to speed things up, go ahead and grab a drill with a mixing paddle.

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