Cement mixer buying guide
Dennis, self-taught DIYer, Bristol18 guides
- Drum volume
Selecting the right cement mixer
If you are not a professional and you only have a single masonry project, go for an electric cement mixer with a capacity of 120 litres.
While you can purchase a cement mixer with a 60-litre drum a larger capacity will be the better choice given the minimal price difference. This will also give you the option of carrying out larger projects in the future.
If you work at several construction sites with access to an electrical supply a cement mixer with a 120-litre capacity will do the job and will still be light enough to transport.
Depending on the scale of the work you'll be doing, you can opt for a cement mixer with a larger drum capacity of 160 or 190 litres.
Regular or intensive use
If you are a professional and you mix cement or mortar 5 days out of 7, consider a cement mixer with a larger drum (250 litre minimum). A petrol-powered mixer means you won't have to rely on electricity. However, given the weight and size of these machines, it's best to select one with a draw bar.
Components of a cement mixer
As a quick reminder, cement mixers are used to blend aggregates with cement and water to make concrete or mortar. They consist of the following parts:
- an electric or petrol-powered motor;
- a tilting and rotating drum;
- a crank wheel equipped with notches which allow you to rotate and tilt the drum into different positions, and to dump the contents into a wheelbarrow;
- a sturdy frame mounted on wheels.
Your choice of cement mixer will depend on the volume of concrete you plan to pour and the most convenient power source at your job site, alongside a number of less important criteria (metal or plastic parts, solid or pneumatic wheels, round or square crank, etc.).
First of all, it's important to pay attention to the terminology. The terms you'll most often hear are drum volume and mixing volume. There is a difference between the two.
For example, a 150-litre drum produces about 120 litres of cement, or two wheelbarrows per load.
Number of cement bags per batch
As a point of reference, cement powder is generally available in 35 kg bags. From a practical standpoint, think about the number of 35 kg bags you'll need for each batch.
Cement mixers with a mixing volume of 110 litres will take half a bag of cement per mix; those with a mixing volume of 140–180 litres will take one bag, and so on.
Benefits of electric cement mixers
Electric cement mixers have a certain number of advantages over petrol-powered mixers. First of all, they are cheaper, and require little to no maintenance. There's no need for oil or petrol; all you need is an electrical outlet. They start up immediately – regardless of the outdoor temperature – and are lighter, making them easier to handle.
Benefits of a petrol-powered cement mixer
In certain cases, the advantages of petrol- (or diesel-) powered cement mixers are incontestable.
They can be used anywhere as they do not require proximity to a power source.
More powerful (1 to 7 HP) and robust, petrol cement mixers can produce much larger batches. They're used on large building sites and often outdoors, such as in residential construction. They generally have pneumatic wheels, meaning they can be towed on the road without the use of a trailer.
Their performance makes up for their weight, size and the level of pollution (atmospheric and noise) that they emit.
Cement mixer features
Gear or belt drive
A cast iron ring gear offers strength and a long service life to the mixer, especially if protected from splashing.
A sturdy frame minimises the risk of the cement mixer tipping over on unstable or wet ground.
You can choose between round and square crank wheels; this choice doesn't change an awful lot but we prefer round ones!
Over time, even if you regularly rinse out your mixer with water, hardened cement residue accumulates on the walls of the drum and the mixing blades. Once the cement has hardened, it will take several blows with a hammer to dislodge it. The metal drum (steel) will need to be able to withstand this.
Choosing the right wheelbarrow for the job
A cement mixer and wheelbarrow go hand in hand.
Tips for choosing the right cement mixer
Dennis, self-taught DIYer, Bristol 18 guides écrits
I first got into DIY around ten years ago, when I bought a house in desperate need of a makeover.
After insulating the loft and refurbishing the kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms, I set about building an extension, installing a gated fence and fitting the house with a solar water heater. I’ve poured tens of tonnes of concrete into slabs and foundations and also renovated a roof. In short, it’s safe to say that I’m no stranger to building work!
I’ve logged hundreds of hours browsing DIY forums and magazines trying to find the best solutions to my specific problems. For that reason, I feel it’s only fair to give back some of my own experience and share my knowledge of tools and building equipment.
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