Concrete Time and Tips

It is the time for all the outdoor projects that everyone has spent all winter dreaming about. Patios, porches, decks, fences, play structures and outdoor entertaining areas. Most, if not all of these projects involve concrete. Recently my wife came home from work with a story of a fellow worker pouring 70 bags of concrete at a basement project, I was shocked and my back ached just thinking about it. Firstly that is 5600 lbs of dry mix. I was told that he had help loading it at the big hardware store but then he had to unload it at the other end. He had to do several trips to and from the hardware store to get all that material to his project. Then he had to get it all into his basement. Once there he had to spend several hours mixing it, pouring it and then finally troweling and finishing it up. What is your time worth? What is your back worth? When I pour any job more than about 6 square feet or 10 bags I call a "ready mix" concrete truck. They are very affordable and when time is valuable it is the only way to a small to moderate sized job. Of course you need to consider accessibility. If there is no way to get a wheelbarrow or even large buckets easily to your location you way need to still use a small mixer. The breakdown is really simple lets take the 70 bag project. That will be about a 1.75 cubic yard pour and will cost you about $280 and take less than 30 minutes. If you buy the bags it will require hauling or delivery. 70 bags will cost about $235 and take several hours of mixing. If you get it delivered that will cost $70 and your already over budget. Lets say you take it to your own project and mix it yourself, 2 or 3 trips to the store for most people and maybe 3 or 4 hours of mixing. A total of 5 or 6 hours of back breaking work and you save $45. Another option is to buy bulk sand, gravel and cement. A sand/gravel mix should cost about $30 per yard and will require about 5 bags of cement per yard to mix at 3000 psi. The cost of this method is about $110 per yard. Using the above example of 1.75 yards we are looking at a material cost of $160. This is the best cost method but it has real logistic issues. Can you haul 1.75 yards of sand/gravel and 846 lbs of cement bags? Do you have a mixer that can handle these quantities in a timely fashion? In my mind ready mix bags don't always pencil out, but they are convenient. What ever you choose make sure you save yourself some energy and time for forming, troweling and finishing.      
This entry was posted in Best practice, Project Tips.

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