How to Mix Concrete: An Ultimate Guide

How to Mix Concrete An Ultimate Guide

Concrete is a fundamental part of construction and the perfect foundation for any building project. It’s strong, durable, and weather-resistant, making it the perfect material for everything from sidewalks to skyscrapers.

But how is concrete made? And how can you make sure that your mix is perfect every time?

It’s hard to know how to mix concrete properly because concrete is a notoriously picky material to work with, and if you get it wrong, your project can be ruined.

This comprehensive guide will take you through every step of the process, from choosing the right ingredients to getting the perfect finish. You’ll learn what concrete is made of, how to mix it correctly, and how to troubleshoot any problems that might arise.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be an expert on mixing concrete like a pro!

Concrete and Its Ingredients

Concrete is made from Portland cement, water, aggregates, and additives. The aggregates are usually sand and gravel, but other materials can be used depending on the application. The additives may include chemical or mineral admixtures, accelerators, retarders, or plasticizers. The four main ingredients of concrete are water, cement, sand, and gravel.


Water is essential for the chemical reaction that takes place when concrete sets. Too much water will make your concrete runny and weak, while not enough water will make it brittle and crack. The general rule of thumb is to use around 10-15% of the weight of the cement in your mix as water.


Cement is the binding agent that holds concrete together. It’s made up of limestone, clay, iron oxide, and gypsum and acts as a glue to bind the other ingredients together. The type of cement you use will depend on the project you’re working on – there are different types of cement for different applications.


Sand is an essential ingredient in concrete because it helps to fill in the gaps between the cement and gravel. The sand should be a fine, clean type of sand, such as masonry sand.


Gravel is the final ingredient in concrete, which gives the concrete its strength. The larger the gravel pieces are, the stronger your concrete will be.

Types Of Concrete Mix Ratio And Uses

The ratio of these ingredients will vary depending on the type of concrete you’re making and its intended purpose. For example, a concrete mix for foundations will have a different ratio than a mix for driveway pavers.

  1. Nominal Concrete Mix Ratios.
  2. Standard Mixes Ratio.
  3. High Strength Concrete Mix Ratio.

1. Nominal Concrete Mix Ratios

Nominal mix concrete is the most common type of concrete, and it’s made with a fixed ratio of ingredients. The proportions are usually specified in standard codes such as M5, M7.5, M10, M15, M20, etc. Here m shows mix, and 5, 7.5, 10, 15, and 20 show the compressive strength of concrete in 28 days in the direct compression test.


Ratios of cement: sand: and coarse aggregate are given along with codes of compressive strength and uses.


Concrete Grade Mix Ratio Compressive Strength Uses
M5 1: 5: 10 725 psi For non-structural use
M7.5 1: 4: 8 1088 psi For non-structural use
M10 1 : 3: 6 1450 psi Used in patios, slabs, and pathways
M15 1: 2: 4 2175 psi For house foundations, school walls, and farm buildings
M20 1: 1.5 : 3 2900 psi Garages, driveways, floor slabs, workshop bases, house floors, and foundation


2. Standard Mixes Ratio

The standard mixes ratio is a popular choice for many projects because it balances strength and ease of use. It uses one part cement, two parts sand, and three parts gravel. This mix is strong enough for most applications, but it’s still easy to work with.

The actual ratio of ingredients may vary slightly depending on the specific project you’re working on. Still, the proportions listed in the table above will give you a good starting point.


Concrete Grade Mix Ratio Compressive Strength Uses
M25 1: 1: 2 3625 psi In all constructions areas, usually in the foundation
M30 Design mix 4350 psi Used in pathways and roads with heavy traffics
M35 Design mix 5075 psi External walls and slabs, structural piling
M40 Design mix 5800 psi In commercial buildings for foundation and beams
M45 Design mix 6525 psi For high-strength strucuture


3. High Strength Concrete Mix Ratio

If proper mix design techniques are used, high-strength concrete may be produced using a wide range of mix proportions. What mix proportions should I use for high-strength concrete?

Usually, This mix uses one part cement, four parts sand, and six parts gravel. While it’s more challenging to work with than the standard mix, it produces significantly stronger concrete.

Now that you know the basics of what goes into concrete let’s talk about how to mix it.

How To Mix Concrete

There are two methods for mixing concrete: hand mixing and machine mixing.

Hand mixing is the simplest method and can be done with nothing more than a shovel and a wheelbarrow.

Machine mixing is faster and easier, but it requires a concrete mixer.

If you’re doing a small project, hand mixing is probably the way to go. For larger projects, machine mixing is the best option.

Hand Mixing Concrete

  1. Start by wetting down the inside of your wheelbarrow with a hose. This will prevent the concrete from sticking to the sides as you mix it.
  2. Add the cement, followed by the sand and gravel.
  3. Use your shovel to mix everything, ensuring that all ingredients are evenly distributed.
  4. Once everything is mixed together, slowly add the water until the desired consistency is achieved.
  5. Continue to mix the concrete until it’s smooth and free of clumps.
  6. When you’re finished, use a hose to clean your wheelbarrow.

Machine Mixing Concrete

  1. Start by adding all dry ingredients – cement, sand, gravel – into the concrete mixer.
  2. Turn on the machine and slowly add the water until the desired consistency is achieved.
  3. Continue to mix for a few minutes to ensure that everything is evenly combined.
  4. When you’re finished, turn off the machine and use a hose to clean the mixer.

Pouring Concrete

  1. Prepare the area where you’ll be pouring the concrete. This means ensuring the ground is level and clearing away any debris or obstacles that might be in the way.
  2. If you’re using a wheelbarrow, scoop up the concrete and dump it where you want it to go. If you’re using a mixer, turn on the machine and let it do its job.
  3. use a trowel to spread it out evenly.
  4. If you want to add any decorative elements – such as stones or shells – now is the time to do it.
  5. Use a hose to wet the concrete and help it set.
  6. Leave the concrete to set for 24 hours before walking on it or adding any furniture.

Congratulations – you now know how to mix and pour concrete!

If you’re looking to do some concrete work and need an accurate concrete mix, contact Valet Works. We have years of experience in the industry and can help you get the job done right. Contact us today for a free quote!

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