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How to make concrete

Tackle your next home improvement project by making your own concrete and following our easy guide.

Whatever DIY project you’re undertaking, making your own concrete could save time and money. Concrete is a combination of cement, sand and gravel or crushed stone, and is easy for you to mix up at home. So, how do you make concrete?

How to make concrete

Follow our easy step-by-step guide to making concrete below. But first, make sure you have everything you need for the job at hand.

Tools required for the job:

  • A bag of cement (bought or homemade)
  • Sand
  • Gravel or crushed stone
  • Limestone
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Bucket
  • Paddle mixer
  • Water
  • Gloves
  • Protective mask

Step 1: Empty your sand and gravel/crushed stone into a bucket

Start by emptying your sand and gravel into a large bucket. As a general rule, concrete should be two parts sand, four parts gravel/crushed stone and one part cement.

Of course, it depends on what type of project you’re embarking on. For example, if you require a concrete mix with extra strength, you would need to use additional sand and gravel to make a tougher mixture.

Step 2: Mix the two together

Before you add the cement, it’s a good idea to mix the sand and gravel together to make sure it’s fully combined.

We recommend using a paddle mixer, but if you haven’t got one to hand you can always use a shovel.

Step 3: Add your cement and mix

It’s time to add cement to your sand and gravel mix.

Be careful when adding your cement. Add it gradually to reduce the amount of dust. It’s always a good idea to wear a mask and to make your cement outside or in a well-ventilated area.

Step 4: Gradually add water

Now you have your three-part mixture, it’s time to add water to make your cement. It’s good practice to add water slowly and gradually until you achieve your desired consistency.

As a general rule, concrete should be the texture of thick oatmeal or cake frosting. Play with the ratios of aggregates and water until you achieve this.

Step 5: A final mix

Be sure that all of the powder has disappeared and give your concrete one good final mix.

You’re finally ready to tackle your DIY project!

Top tip: Use your concrete within an hour of mixing it before it sets and goes hard.

Concrete pouring machine

How to make cement

The terms cement and concrete are often used to describe the same thing. However, they are fundamentally different.

Cement is a dry substance that is one of the ingredients that goes into making concrete when mixed with other materials.

It’s usually easiest to purchase cement to include in your concrete mix, especially because making cement involves cooking limestone at extremely hot temperatures. However, if you have access to a kiln or outdoor oven, you could, technically, make your own cement – which you could then use to make your own concrete.

So, how to you make cement? Well, just follow these steps. But first, make sure you have everything you need.

Tools required for the job:

  • Limestone
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Kiln or outdoor oven
  • Thick gloves
  • Protective mask
  • Airtight container

Step 1: Gather limestone

Whether you go and find natural limestone near a riverbed or buy it from a garden centre, you need to gather lots of it to make your own cement.

Top tip: To identify limestone, use a coin to scratch the surface of the rock. Limestone is softer than other rocks and can easily be scored. So, if it easily scores, you can be sure it’s limestone.

Step 2: Break up the limestone

Use a shovel to break up the limestone. Ideally, you don’t want the pieces any larger than a couple of inches.

Step 3: Heat up/cook the limestone

To heat up your limestone you’re going to need access to a kiln or outdoor oven. The temperature needs to be 900°C and you need to bake it for at least four hours.

It’s very important to wear the right protective gear for this. Thick work gloves are a must and don’t forget your face mask.

Step 4: Let it cool

Once at least four hours have passed, carefully take the limestone out of the kiln to fully cool.

Step 5: Crumble it into a powder

It’s time to crumble your limestone into a dry, powdery consistency. Make sure to put your work gloves back on and gently break the limestone up using your hands until you’ve got the texture you desire.

You should now have fully-formed cement which you can use to make concrete for your next DIY project. If you’re not planning to use it immediately, store it in an airtight container until you’re ready.

pile of cement

Is it worth making homemade concrete?

There’s no doubt that buying pre-mixed bags of concrete will save you time. However, it might not save you money, especially if you’re undertaking a larger DIY project.

Mixing your own concrete is easy once you follow our simple steps. Plus, it will allow you to control the texture of your concrete.

Understandably, you may not have all of the tools required to make your own concrete. However, once you’ve invested in them once, you won’t have to buy them again. And if you’re planning to tackle more DIY projects in the future, then it may well be worth it.

If you don’t have the confidence to make your own concrete you can always hire a professional to help you.

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