Concrete may seem like unforgiving material to work with but honestly, with a few tips and a little patience, you will be able to make awesome pieces. In this article, we are going to look at a few tips on working with concrete and creating concrete crafts for the home and garden.
Concrete and Cement
Cement and concrete are not new to the majority of people, particularly those living in urban areas. New York itself is affectionately called the concrete jungle. It is in these concrete structures that many have made a home in high-rise apartments. Others living out in the suburbs have houses sitting on concrete and rebar foundations. Cement and concrete have made a difference in the lives of many societies over the years and contributed greatly to the industry.
In a nutshell, cement is the powder you buy from the hardware store. When you mix cement with sand, other aggregates, and water you get a concrete mixture that is then used to pour slabs and other such elements. Find out more about the difference between cement and concrete in a previous post called Cement vs Concrete.
Working with Concrete
Before we jump into the concrete craft suggestions let’s take a look at a few tips on working with concrete. Safety is important no matter what you are doing so we urge you to follow these suggestions before beginning in your concrete project.
Protect your skin – wet cement/concrete can cause irritation to the skin and in some cases severe chemical burns. Be sure to wear waterproof gloves and clothing that covers your arms and legs. A decent pair of shoes will also help to protect your feet.
Protect your eyes – make sure you have protective goggles so that the cement or concrete mixture does not get into your eyes. If this does happen seek out medical attention immediately.
How to Mix Concrete
There is a bit of an art to mixing concrete, especially in smaller batches and by hand. Understanding the ratio needed for your intended application is important. Everyone who takes on concrete for the first time goes through a learning curb.
What you will need:
• Wheelbarrow or large tub
• Garden hoe
• Thick rubber gloves
• Safety glasses
• Dust mask
• Clean bucket
• Measuring cup
• Utility knife
• Indelible marker
• Premix concrete or cement, sand and aggregate like gravel
Get all of your safety gear on and then put the concrete mix or mixture into the wheelbarrow or large tub. Keep in mind that mixing more than one wheelbarrow full is terribly heavy physically and the mixture would likely dry out before you use it. So, keep your slabs and workable pieces to the amount you can mix at one time. Then add the water and mix it all together like you would cake batter or play in the mud. You are looking for a peanut butter-like consistency. This should work well for most projects.
Concrete has been used in many applications around the home and garden for a number of years. Many use it for patio floors, benches, fence posts, flooring, and slabs. When worked properly you can accentuate the straight edges and smooth design on a concrete piece. This creates bold pieces of architecture, furniture, and even décor. Plus, with the addition of rebar into floors and benches meant to take a higher load or weight, you know that they will last a lifetime.
Here are a few other ideas for your concrete crafts for the home and garden:
• Pots for Plants
• Concrete Cooler/Icebox
• Stepping Stones
• Garden Bench
• Coffee Table
• Fire Place
• Counter Tops
As always, I trust you enjoyed this month’s article, and do remember to follow us on LinkedIn for upcoming articles.