Concrete is an awesome, hugely versatile material to work with. If you’re considering making some DIY projects with concrete, there are plenty of options to choose from, whether you want something simple like a vase or candleholder or want to make super-modern chic concrete lighting pendants. Here’s everything you need to know before you get started with concrete DIY projects.
What is Concrete?
Concrete and cement are similar, but they are not the same; cement forms part of the concrete and the term ‘concrete’ is used to describe the material that’s created from a combination of aggregates – mostly sand or stones with cement that’s activated with water. Once this combination reacts, also known as the curing process, some heat is generated. Once this is done, it cools down leaving the concrete almost as hard as stone.
Which Concrete Mixture is the Best to Use for Craft Projects?
When it comes to crafting and DIY projects, lime-based cement, also known as Portland or all-purpose cement, is usually the best option to use. It is usually used with crushed stones, gravel or even glass shards to create pavements, stepping stones, large planter bowls, or even chairs and tables. This is the best mixture to use for larger craft projects.
On the other hand, a finer mix is the best option for smaller projects. You can easily use an all-purpose cement but switch out the aggregates for finer options, like sand. If you want to change the final colour of your project, add coloured sand. You can also use shredded plastic, or Styrofoam or fabric balls. Bear in mind that the smaller the object you are crafting, the finer the aggregate should be.
Whatever type of concrete you need for your projects, check out MixIt’s online tool. MixIt has a wide range of concrete options to choose from and a handy concrete calculator tool to help you determine exactly how much you’re going to need for a project.
Concrete can be a fairly messy material and you should avoid getting it on your skin, which is why you should always protect yourself with some gloves. Simple, latex gloves will be fine. And, bear in mind that the dust from concrete can be irritating to your eyes and lungs, so you might want to use goggles to protect your eyes and a mask to prevent you from inhaling the concrete dust, too.
Preparing Your Workspace:
A dedicated workshop isn’t required for successfully crafting with concrete, but there are some precautions that you should take beforehand to make sure that your space is best prepared and protected. Cover the area similar to how you would if you were painting something, or work outside if you can. Use fairly flexible mixing tools like plastic spoons and bowls to keep the workspace as mess-free and as waste-free as possible. Keep a spare plastic cup or mould around to fill with any leftovers.
Making Concrete Stronger:
in order to make sure that your concrete projects last as long as possible, consider the wide range of reinforcements available from glass and plastic fibre to metals, recycled sticks, hemp, cotton and more. It depends entirely on the project that you’re working on. It might be best to test a few different options if the item that you want to make requires a certain level of strength.
Tips for Success:
Choose the right concrete:
There are many different types of concrete to choose from, but when it comes to DIY projects, some options are better than others. Quick-setting cement is a good option for most crafters as it sets very quickly but on the other hand, this means that you need to be prepared to work fast.
Set up before you start:
Before you mix the concrete, have everything set up and ready to go. Choose the containers that you’re going to use for setting the concrete and grease them with a little vegetable oil on the parts that are going to touch the concrete. This will make it easier to get your projects out once the concrete has set.
Choose the right containers:
When it comes to choosing your moulds, bear in mind that it’s what’s on the inside that counts; any bumps, ridges or other textures are going to be transferred to the outer mould of the final project. And, be careful about choosing moulds that are going to be easy to get your project out of; the wrong shape, such as a container with a wider bottom than tip, could mean that you need to destroy your mould to remove the project – so don’t go with anything that you want to use again or are particularly attached to.
When it comes to working with cement, there are hundreds of different craft project ideas that you might want to try and make.
About the Author
Emily Roberts is a keen writer with a passion for everything DIY, interior and home design related.