Not sure about the best concrete mix to use? Don’t worry — it’s as easy as 1-2-3, especially with Quikrete Concrete Mix, Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete and Quikrete Countertop Mix, three of the most popular options.
This post is sponsored by Quikrete.
If you use the right concrete mix and cure the project properly, you’ll have the best-looking, longest-lasting concrete in the neighborhood.
1. Quikrete Concrete Mix (Yellow Bag)
Quikrete Concrete Mix — the original blend of portland cement, sand and gravel or stone — is perfect for general concrete work.
If you’ve got projects at least 2 inches thick, choose this mix. So, whether you’re planning a patio or building foundation walls, concrete floors, steps or curbs, grab the yellow bag!
This mix is also ideal for casting pools, sidewalks, benches, birdbaths and downspout troughs.
Quikrete has an easy-to-use Concrete Calculator to determine exactly how many bags you’ll need. Just enter the square feet of your project, and Quikrete will eliminate any guesswork.
Just mix water and Quikrete Concrete Mix in a barrel-type concrete mixer or a mortar mixer. On the other hand, you can empty concrete bags into a mixing container and hand-mix with water.
Either way, follow the package’s directions to determine the water content and get the best results.
Mixing isn’t the only key to success. Curing — continuously moisturizing concrete with lawn sprinklers, nozzles or soaker hoses — increases the concrete’s strength and durability.
Concrete needs the right amount of moisture to minimize shrinkage and thermal cracks. The easiest way to cure concrete is to grab a gardening hose and spray the concrete down with water.
Do this as soon and often as possible, at least three to four times a day. Cure the concrete at least five days during warm weather (70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) or seven days during colder weather (50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Fast-Setting Concrete Mix (Red Bag)
Think of this Quikrete concrete mix — which contains fast-setting cements, sand and gravel — as an efficient alternative to standard concrete mix.
That’s because you don’t have to mix it for most projects. Just pour the dry mix into a hole and soak with water — couldn’t be easier! Also, it sets hard in 20 to 40 minutes. (But work quickly, and only mix as much material as you can place in 20 minutes.)
Fast-Setting Concrete Mix is perfect for setting basketball posts, deck posts, fence posts, lamp posts and mailbox posts. (Just about any post!) The red bag’s also ideal for setting swing sets and building concrete appliance pads and steps.
Use this calculator to determine how much you’ll need.
Now, if you’re pouring a slab, you will need to mix fast-setting concrete and water in a barrel-type concrete mixer or a mortar mixer.
On the other hand, you can always hand-mix the ingredients. Again, follow the package’s directions to determine the water content to get the best results.
Either way, you’re saving time, thanks to the fast-setting ingredients. If you pour a slab, you can walk on it just two hours after pouring. And in just four hours you can place heavy objects, such as appliances, on the slab.
- 5 Fast-Setting Concrete Projects You Can Do in a Day
- Fast-Setting or Standard Concrete: How to Decide
- 3 Benefits of Fast-Setting Concrete
3. Quikrete Countertop Mix (Blue Bag)
Concrete countertops are durable, economical and match just about any home’s style. But when it comes to casting concrete countertops, not just any mix will do. Quikrete Concrete Countertop Mix was made for this type of project — it’s fine compared to other mixes and gives a smoother finish.
Quikrete’s Concrete Countertop Mix, in the blue bag, has super-plasticizer, a special ingredient that helps the mix flow better, and prevents shrinking, cracking and air bubbles. In addition, it requires minimal vibration and self-consolidates. The mix comes in a gray or tint-based white base.
You can mix Concrete Countertop Mix in a barrel-type concrete mixer or a mortar mixer. Just follow the package’s directions to determine the water content to get the best results.
You should machine-mix for at least three minutes, or until you get a flowable mix.
Quikrete Countertop Mix comes in gray or a light-colored tint base. While a traditional gray countertop is attractive and modern, it’s your home, so have fun with this project! You can add glass or colored stone to the mixture.
Or use tint base and add Quikrete Liquid Cement Color to the mixing water. Just follow the package directions for the best results.
Concrete Countertop Mix has its own special curing process. Optimal curing involves tenting the project with plastic sheeting as soon as possible. You will be able to strip the forms in 18 hours.
Because this mix doesn’t contain any rocks, it leaves a smooth finish — perfect for countertops and other projects where you need a flawless finish, like these concrete stools.
- How to Make a DIY Concrete Countertop
- DIY Concrete Countertops: 5 Mistakes to Avoid
- 3 Advantages of Concrete Countertops
For Extra Early Strength
Now that you know the basics of concrete, here’s some extra credit if you need a project to get stronger faster.
Quikrete 5000 Concrete Mix is a commercial-grade blend of stone or gravel, sand and cement specially designed for higher early strength.
In one day, it reaches three times the compressive strength of standard concrete mix and exceeds 5000 psi — or pounds per square inch — after 28 days. And, because it gains strength quickly, it’s ideal for cold weather applications.
This mix is best for heavy-duty concrete projects 2 or more inches thick, like driveway aprons and footings. It’s also effective for large, dense concrete projects like planters and garden spheres.
TIP: When building footings — and when allowed by local building code — use QUIK-TUBE. These rigid-fiber building forms remove the need to build wooden forms, when allowed by local building code. Just dig the holes for footings, cut the forms to size and place them in the holes. Then pour 6 inches of gravel into each form, compact it, and pour in the concrete mix.
Each 80-pound bag yields approximately 0.60 cubic feet. Follow the instructions and application method on the bag for the best results.
Solution for Aging Concrete Surfaces
While concrete is extremely durable, over time it may require repair, and the easiest fix is Quikete Re-Cap Concrete Resurfacer.
Concrete resurfacer is a thin mortar mix designed for easy application to cover hairline cracks and other minor imperfections to make an old concrete slab look brand new. If there are large cracks on the concrete, fill them with Quikrete FastSet Crack Repair before applying Re-Cap.
For a quick guide on which concrete mix you need, refer to Quikrete’s Concrete Mix Selector Guide.
Learn more about Quikrete products, and tell us which concrete projects you’ve tackled in the comments!
Great info, tips and links for just about any concrete project – thanks!
Glad to hear you enjoyed this content, Keith. Please feel free to share it with friends — that’s how we’re able to create similar content.
I have a cinder block chimney which is 50 yrs. old and starting to deteriorate. I’ve had it repaired 4-5 times over the past 10 years with no good results. Do you have any suggestion on how to repair without going thru the expense of replacing it. The top 4 blocks are the worst where it meets the rooof.
Great question! We recommend submitting it to the Today’s Homeowner Radio Show for an in-depth answer.
Please use this form to contact Danny Lipford, America’s Home Expert, directly: https://www.todayshomeowner.com/radio/ask-questions/
great information. I have several projects that will require concrete, but was intimidated by which ones to use and how to use it, but your explanation for each type made the fear go away. I’ve now ready to divide and conquer each project.
Glad to hear you enjoyed this content! Please feel free to share it with friends — that’s how we’re able to create similar content. 🙂
I DIY’d timber (sliced in 1/2) decorative lawn border fencing. 5 & 7″ high, about 60′. Every 4th piece is 9″ woth 4″ sticking down bottom. For stability I’d like to concrete those 4″ into holes made with bulb planter. Is this good idea? If so, would the red bag mix be best? Read & loved ALL your concrete articles. Roof cleaning ones too. Thank you
Sounds like quite a project! Our friends at Quikrete will make sure you have the right product.
Here’s how to connect with them: https://www.quikrete.com/contactus/main.asp
Good luck with your project!
No one is answering the question, what is the difference between mortar and concrete. Are you supposed to use mortar on cement blocks, bricks and veneering work (stone) etc.?
Mortar contains lime, sand and cement and binds building materials (such as bricks or stone) together.
Here are more resources on this topic:
How to Build a Concrete Block Wall, https://todayshomeowner.com/how-to-build-a-concrete-block-wall/
How to Repair Mortar in a Brick Wall or Chimney, https://todayshomeowner.com/how-to-repair-mortar-in-a-brick-wall-or-chimney/
How to Repair Cracked Brick Mortar Joints, https://todayshomeowner.com/video/repairing-brick-mortar-cracks/
Cement vs. Concrete: Understanding the Difference, https://todayshomeowner.com/cement-vs-concrete-understanding-the-difference/
Thanks for your question!