How to Mix Concrete Without a Mixer by Hand in a Bucket or Otherwise

How to Mix Concrete Without a Mixer by Hand

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If you’re planning a home DIY project, you may soon find yourself in need of some concrete. Naturally, you don’t need too much. In all, you may only need a bag or two of pre-mixed concrete to get the job done. So, renting a mixer or ordering from a concrete company may feel excessive, especially if you’re working on a home remodeling budget.

In a situation like this, you’ll be pleased to know that you can mix concrete without a mixer with ease. In fact, by utilizing the methods set forth in this guide, you’ll be able to mix your own concrete without making a mess or adding too much water. This guide will also take you through two of the easiest no-mixer methods for making concrete step-by-step.

2 Methods of Mixing Concrete Without a Mixer

While you may have seen a handful of methods for mixing concrete without a mixer, the following are the two simplest and most reliable methods for accomplishing this task. Consider trying either one based upon the resources available to you for your DIY project.

On a Sheet or in a Tray

The sheet or tray method of mixing concrete without a mixer is one of the most commonly practiced, both by DIYers and even some professionals. In essence, this method requires you to recreate the conditions within a mixer but on a flat sheet of plastic or tarpaulin. To do that, you manually combine the various concrete ingredients while they are still dry before strategically adding water.

After water is added, you begin the process of carefully combining the ingredients. This is done through a chopping method that ensures the dry concrete mix is fully incorporated with water. Then, if it is necessary, more water may be added until a proper application texture is reached.

This method can be applied in almost any situation, though it is best suited to DIY projects taking place on even or flat ground. Any amount of incline underneath the mixing tray or sheet runs the risk of water or other ingredients sliding out before they can be properly combined. Also, this method is best suited for a job site with plenty of space, given the amount of space a properly-sized tarp or tray will take up.

In a Bucket

When it comes to mixing concrete without a mixer, the bucket method is also a reliable option for both DIYers and professionals. In fact, this method is used on professional job sites daily when access to a mixer would be otherwise inhibited due to space constraints. As such, this method is best suited to DIY jobs taking place within a tight space. Similarly, this method is ideal for DIY jobs that require the concrete in question to be transported from the area where it was mixed to a separate place for pouring.

At its core, this method resembles the sheet or tray mixing method. However, instead of a tray or tarpaulin, the bucket method requires a deeper, more compact container in which to combine the dry ingredients and water. However, this method can also be used to mix concrete in a wheelbarrow, which is also common on professional job sites.

Due to the tight confines of the mixing containers utilized in this method, the previous technique for combining ingredients won’t work for the bucket method. Instead, this method requires a specialized mixing tool which ensures all of the dry ingredients are properly incorporated. This tool acts as a whisk when it comes to breaking up chunks and reaching to the bottom of the mixing container, as well.

How to Mix Concrete by Hand

How to Mix Concrete on a Sheet or in a Tray

Now, let’s take a closer look at how to mix concrete using the first method.

Step 1: Gather Materials and Set-Up

First and foremost, you’ll need to gather up all of the necessary materials.

Concrete does not wait for the unprepared to set, so it is best if you have all of the necessary materials within arm’s reach before pouring out any ingredients. To that end, you should have the following on hand to successfully utilize this mixer-less method of mixing concrete:

  • A large plastic sheet, tarp, or tray
  • Dry concrete ingredients or pre-mixed bagged concrete (as much as the job requires)
  • Water
  • A shovel or a hoe

Once you have these materials, you can begin to set up your mixing site.

To do this, fully lay out your tray or sheet flat. If necessary, ensure that the edges are raised so that water or the mixed concrete do not run off the sides.

Step 2: Pour Out Materials and Combine

Once your mixing platform has been established, you can begin to pour out your concrete ingredients (except for the water). If you are using a dry mix, this will be as easy as cutting open the bags and pouring them out onto the sheet or tray.

However, if you are mixing your own concrete, you’ll want to pour out proportional amounts of cement powder, sand, and an aggregate of your choice.

After your ingredients are poured out, mix them together while they are still dry. This will not be necessary if you are using a pre-mixed powder. Once you’ve finished combining the dry ingredients, make a deep crater in the center of the dry concrete pile.

Step 3: Add Water and Mix

Once you or an assistant are ready to mix the concrete into its final form, you can begin to pour some water into the dry ingredient crater. Add slightly less water than your ratio (if making your own mixture) or pre-mixed bag instructions call for. You can always add more later, but you won’t be able to take any out if you over-water your concrete.

After the water is added, you can use your shovel or hoe to begin folding the dry ingredients into the center. After doing so, make a chopping motion with your tool to ensure proper integration of the wet and dry materials. Continue doing this until a satisfactory concrete texture is reached.

At that point, you are ready to pour your concrete into a form or a Sonotube.

How to Mix Concrete in a Bucket

Next, let’s take a closer look at mixing concrete in a bucket.

Step 1: Gather Materials

First, you’ll need to gather together the necessary materials and equipment for this concrete mixing method. Those include the following:

  • A deep bucket or a wheelbarrow
  • Pre-mixed concrete (dry)
  • Water
  • A concrete mixing tool (various forms)

Once you have your materials collected, you can begin by placing the bucket or wheelbarrow on flat, even ground. Ideally, you should also position this container as close to your eventual job site as possible. This is because mixed concrete is fairly heavy, requiring some effort to transport it safely.

Step 2: Pour in Water

Once your bucket or wheelbarrow has been placed in a steady location, you should pour in the required amount of water. This differs from other methods of manually mixing concrete. However, the result is much more reliable as doing prevents dry concrete from sticking to the bottom of your bucket or wheelbarrow.

When it comes to water volume, always add less than you think you need. You can always add more later, bit by bit. However, too much water will decrease your concrete’s strength and texture from the get-go.

Step 3: Add Dry Ingredients

Next, add in your dry ingredients. This should be done very carefully because splashing may occur.

Once you’ve added as much of the pre-mixed powder as needed, you should immediately begin to combine the wet and dry ingredients. This can be done by hand using a tall concrete hand mixing tool with blades at its base.

Alternatively, you can use a specialized drill attachment with claw-like extensions at its end.

Carefully mix your ingredients until the proper texture is obtained. Then, immediately transport your concrete to the job site and begin applying to prevent premature setting.

How to Mix Concrete in a Bucket


If you’re working on a DIY project and don’t want to rent a concrete mixer, then don’t fret. There are two viable methods for hand mixing your own concrete without the need for such a bulky apparatus. Instead, with just a bucket, a wheelbarrow, a plastic sheet, or a tray, you can quickly and easily prepare the concrete needed to get the job done right.

By this point, you should know how to utilize these two methods properly and safely. Be sure to hold onto that knowledge or bookmark this guide so that you can always be certain that your concrete hand mixing method is up to snuff.