A durable and economic material, concrete can be used for a number of projects. Randy Williams of Quikrete offers a lesson in the basics of making and using concrete.
Concrete is one of the most durable, economical and versatile building materials, used on everything from driveways to lighthouses.
Concrete is composed of a binding medium (usually Portland cement), aggregate and water. Portland cement is a mixture of minerals fired in a kiln, combined with gypsum ground fine. It's sold in 1-cubic-foot bags weighing 94 pounds each. A combination of fine and coarse aggregate makes up 60 percent to 75 percent of a given volume of concrete. Fine aggregate is sand that will pass through a 1/4-inch screen. Coarse aggregate consists of gravel and crushed stone between 1/4 inch and 1-1/2 inch in diameter.
To determine how much concrete is needed to fill a rectangular or square surface, use either of the following formulas:
- [Width in feet x length in feet x thickness in inches] divided by 324 equals cubic yards of concrete needed
- [Width in feet x length in feet x thickness in inches] divided by 12 equals cubic feet of concrete needed
When working with concrete, always wear a mask or respirator and gloves for protection. Mix the concrete in a large bucket or wheelbarrow until you get a mass of uniform color without brown or gray streaks. For surfaces that will be exposed to moderate weather and wear, a mix of 1 part cement, 2-1/2 parts sand and 3 parts gravel is recommended. For projects not subject to wear and weather, use 1 part cement, 2-3/4 parts sand and 4 parts gravel. Use a metal trowel to spread the concrete, eliminating all air pockets.
Working successfully with concrete takes a lot of practice. But with the proper tools, you'll be off to a good start.
Advice on Ordering Concrete
Hosts Dean Marsico and Derek Stearns give helpful tips on ordering concrete, including how to measure properly and how weather can affect your order.
Tips for Demolishing Concrete
Learn how to break up an existing concrete pad without becoming overwhelmed or injured.
The Basics of Cast Concrete and Molded Accents
Learn more on the history of cast stone and the process of making and using molds to create architectural accents from Restoration Realities.
All About Concrete, Mortar and Aggregate Material
Learn about the different types of concrete, mortar and aggregates and how to choose the right materials for your project.
The Pros and Cons of Concrete Tile
Concrete tile is an outdoor staple that has become an indoor favorite, especially for floors and countertops.
Choosing Countertops: Concrete
Concrete's organic look suits both modern and rustic kitchens.
Express Yourself with Concrete Countertops
For the homeowner in quest of an artistic, one-of-a-kind countertop that transcends the commonplace, concrete may be worth the price.
Decorating expert Bea Pila explains why travertine limestone is a great choice for any room.
Learn some basic information about wood fillers and related products for your DIY projects.
We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.More DIY Social
See the latest DIY projects, catch up on trends and meet more cool people who love to create.Make It. Fix It. Learn It. Find It.
- Tips for Summer Yard Maintenance
- Tips for Watering Lawn in Summer
- Plants That Bloom in Summer
- Flavorful Herbs Enhance Summer Dishes
- Unusual Summer Perennials