So you have decided to make some concrete and you think that using a wheelbarrow and a shovel may be the best method for you to mix it together. While this may be correct, there are other viable options for mixing your concrete that you may want to consider. Of these methods you can mix concrete using your hands in the bucket, a square shovel on a piece of plywood, or in a bucket with a drill and whip attachment which is similar to a paddle.
Of all of the concrete mixing methods mixing in a San Francisco Concrete wheelbarrow with a shovel is one of the most physically demanding. If you intend to mix your concrete in a wheelbarrow then you should not have very much concrete to mix. If you plan to mix more than a few bags of concrete then you should strongly consider renting a concrete mixer from a local hardware store. A concrete mixer rental can be as little as $30-$50 and can save you a huge amount of backbreaking labor.
If you have already decided that a wheelbarrow and shovel is the way you need to go, then a few expert hints and tips can help you to make hard work much easier. The first thing that you need to know is that you should be using a spade shovel not a square shovel for mixing your concrete. The next most important tip is to thoroughly spray down the inside of your wheelbarrow with water as well as spray down your shovel with water prior to starting your mix. This will help to lubricate the wheelbarrow and prevent the concrete powder from binding in the corners.
One of the single most important things that you must do when the mixing concrete in a wheelbarrow is ensure that the wheelbarrow remains balanced at all times. This means that your workstation must be completely flat and the wheelbarrow must be balanced securely and not wobbly from a broken support or flat tire. Concrete and water are both extremely heavy and as you mix them in the wheelbarrow the three points of contact with the ground can leave a little to be desired. It is very easy for a wheelbarrow full of concrete to tip over and it is definitely heavy enough to cause physical injury to anyone adjacent to it. Always be sure to work safely and prevent unnecessary injury even from items as simple as a wheelbarrow and a shovel.
While overwatering your concrete is generally a very bad idea as it will completely compromise the finish strength of the product, overwatering can be the secret to mixing concrete in a wheelbarrow easily. The idea here is that you want to add about half to two thirds of your dry concrete mix into a wet wheelbarrow, and then add more than the amount of water that this concrete will need. This will turn the concrete into a soupy substance that you can stir similar to how a which might stir a cauldron, as opposed to snapping your shovel in half trying to lift, turn and mix underwatered concrete.
The secret is to slowly add more dried mix at the and to firm up your concrete mix. If you do this correctly you should be able to achieve a perfect, thick and well mixed concrete mixture with out the backbreaking labor involved with lifting and turning dry concrete mix. You cannot truly appreciate how much easier this method is than dumping a bag of dry concrete into a wheelbarrow and spraying it with water, until you have tried it for yourself.
If you plan to mix concrete in your wheelbarrow on multiple occasions then it becomes critically important that you clean your wheelbarrow out well after each mix. If you allow the concrete to dry inside of the wheelbarrow it will make mixing much more difficult in the future, it will make the wheelbarrow heavier, and it will allow dried concrete to flake off into your new mix the next time you are mixing a batch. Even if you are mixing multiple batches in a row, you should spray the sides of your wheelbarrow down with a garden hose in between each mix. This will make sure that concrete from the first mix isn’t drying on your wheelbarrow as you are working on mix number three or four.
Another tip is to put down a tarp or plastic underneath of the wheelbarrow in a large area around where you will be working. Especially when making wet mixes the concrete will be inclined to splash out of the wheelbarrow on occasion. By having the plastic down this creates a safe work area where the concrete can not damage anything allowing you to focus on the task at hand. If you plan to transport the freshly mixed concrete in the wheelbarrow. Be sure that you have not splashed any wet concrete on to the tire that may leave marks as you wheel the wheelbarrow off of the plastic tarp.
A final tip about mixing concrete in the wheelbarrow is to choose a suitable wheelbarrow for the application. You will want a wheelbarrow that is made of metal as plastic wheelbarrows will allow the sharp edge of the shovel to scrape and scratch the plastic off of the sides. This would result in little plastic pieces inside of your concrete mix which would be undesirable. You also want to choose a wheelbarrow that is fairly heavy duty as concrete is extremely heavy. You also want to choose a wheelbarrow with high sides that will help prevent the concrete from splashing out during the mixing process.