Concreting and Preparation

Concrete Mixers: What You Need To Know

May 13th 2017

Mixing concrete by hand can be exhausting work. 


For fellow DIY-ers on projects that require large amounts of cement or concrete, ‘how to use a concrete mixer’ is often a key consideration that ends up saving them a lot of time, money, and labour.


If you’re in this boat and want to master how to use a concrete mixer, the good news is that these mixers are both affordable to buy or hire and simple to operate. 

No matter what kind of project you are taking on, the basic operating steps for using a mixer will be the same. Our tips on how to get the most out of your mixer will therefore be beneficial, whether you are pouring a building’s foundation or creating a few steps for your garden.

How to Use a Concrete Mixer: Getting Started

Whether you are hiring a concrete mixer for a large construction job or just a few bags for your garden, it’s important that you choose a cement mixer that is up for the job and can help you get things done efficiently.

Concrete mixers make mixing large amounts of concrete and cement easy. To be effective, concrete needs to be mixed well and quickly, which is hard to do by hand. Mixers are ideal for all kinds of projects, from small do-it-yourself home improvement projects to large commercial construction projects.


If you want to know how to use a cement mixer properly, we're here to help you with these simple steps. HSS is the go-to place for hiring cement mixers and building equipment. If you're ready to start your project, get your equipment from us today. 

Choosing the Right Concrete Mixer Type

There is a wide range of mixers to choose from depending on the job you need to complete. 

With so many options, it can be difficult to know what will work best for you. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a cement mixer:

1. Mixer Capacity

One of the most important things to look for when you choose a cement mixer is size. 

If you are taking on a large project, which will require a lot of concrete, you should hire a larger mixer, such as a drum or barrel mixer, which can prepare more concrete at once, making your job easier. 

If you're just mixing small batches of concrete, then a smaller machine will be sufficient. 

2. Mixer Type

Cement mixers come in three types: planetary, drum, and continuous feed. 

Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages:

  • Planetary mixers are typically cheaper than drum mixers but take longer to complete a batch
  • Drum mixers are faster but more expensive than planetary models
  • Continuous-feed mixers allow for continuous mixing without waiting for the batch to finish before starting another one (which makes them ideal for large jobs)

Bulk Concrete Mixers 

If you're mixing mortar or concrete in bulk on site, this heavy-duty, diesel-powered, trolley-mounted mixer is the one for you.

With a high-speed paddle and a large hopper, it can mix up to 110 litres of concrete in a 6-minute cycle. The trolley design means that you can easily move the mixer around your site with ease - and it's also great for mixing granular materials like sand and gravel.

The whole unit is made from steel - including the drum - so it's built to last. It has an adjustable safety guard so you can keep your distance from the blade, as well as a safety switch, which prevents accidental activation of the motor when not in use.

Tip-Up Cement Mixers

For small to medium-sized projects, a tip-up concrete mixer is a good choice. These mixers aren’t as large as bulk mixers, but can still mix quite a lot of concrete.

 A tip-up cement mixer is compact and portable for easy transportation.

The mixer's compact size makes it ideal for small jobs, such as building decks or sheds. The mixer can be wheeled around the site or left in place if needed.

The mixer features a large mixing drum that holds up to 85 litres of concrete. 

When the concrete is ready, you can easily tilt the mixer over, pouring the wet mixture into a wheelbarrow.  

Be sure to choose a mixer that has adequate safety features and is easy to use. Consider the area you are working in and choose a model that lends itself to things like rough ground, obstacles and tight spaces, if needed.

How to Use a Concrete Mixer in 5 Steps

In this blog, we’ll talk you through how to operate a petrol concrete mixture. Most concrete mixers are operated the same way; however, you should always read the instructions to be sure that you use yours correctly and safely.

This fuel-powered mixer utilises a four-stroke petrol engine, meaning that unleaded petrol will need to be obtained before use.

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Step 1. Follow Safety Procedures 

Always wear long sleeves and pants, closed-toed shoes, and safety goggles and gloves when operating a cement mixer. Never put your hands or tools inside the mixer while it is running. HSS offer a wide range of safety equipment when booking online.

Work in a clear area outdoors and set up barriers and signs that warn people that the concrete is wet. Do not use the concrete fixture until it is completely dry.

Step 2. Assemble the Mixer

Before you start using the mixer, make sure it is set up on a level surface and near a water supply. Check the oil level using a dipstick and prepare to build the stand. Carefully assemble the mixer and ensure all parts are firmly put together. 

Step 3. Connect the Drum and Position It Correctly

Once the stand has been assembled, slightly tip the mixer and slot the stand into the swivel base. Using the d-clamp, secure the base into place. The swivel base will then need unlocking from the mixer frame before raising the unit back up into an upright position.

Assemble the mixer

Step 4. Power on the Mixer

Once safely set up, switch the motor on to power the mixer and open the fuel tap. Never turn the mixer on whilst it is loaded.

Step 5. Mix the Concrete Correctly

Read the instructions that came with your cement mix and add the right quantities of the cement and water as the mixer is running. It is dangerous to overload a concrete mixer - doing this could also ruin the concrete - so be sure to mix it in batches that fit the mixer’s capacity. 

As you mix the concrete, it is very important that the mixture isn’t too wet or too dry. Failing this, your concrete won’t be easy to work with and could actually compromise your project, as the mixture won’t dry correctly.

Perfectly mixed concrete will move easily around the drum mixer, but won’t slosh around or crumble as it moves. You may need to add more water or concrete mix to achieve this.

One good tip is to pay attention to how the concrete moves as the drum turns. If it reaches the top of the mixer before it falls, the mix is too dry. On the other hand, if it doesn’t reach the side, it is too wet.

Connect the Drum and Position It Correctly
Step 6. Pour the Concrete Carefully

Step 6. Pour the Concrete Carefully

Depending on the type of mixer you are using, you will either pour the concrete directly into the mould or onto the surface you are concreting or you will pour it into a wheelbarrow.

It is best to have two people ready to help. One person should hold the wheelbarrow or assist with a shovel as the concrete is poured while the other tips the mixer.

Tip the mixer slowly, but at an angle that allows the concrete to run out of the drum. Avoid pouring it too quickly, which could cause you to lose control of the mixer or the concrete.

Cleaning the Mixer

Never allow the concrete to dry in the mixer before you clean it. Dry concrete is difficult - if not impossible - to remove and can damage the mixer. Add water and a little bit of sand to the mixer and turn it on, letting it run for a few minutes. The sand and water will clean the concrete from the sides, making it easier to clean the drum.

Turn the mixer off, empty it, and then run it again with clean water. Turn it off again, empty the drum and disconnect it from the power supply. If needed, you can use a brush to clean any leftover cement from the drum.

All kinds of home, garden and construction projects require the use of a concrete mixer. Knowing how to choose one, use it properly and clean it will help you get the most out of the machine, allowing you to turn concrete into sturdy structures or beautiful pieces of art.

Got a construction project in mind? Explore our range of concrete mixers and related products here. When you hire from us, you'll receive a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the equipment and get the job done efficiently.

About the Author

Lauren King

Lauren works in our Ecommerce Team, with over 6 years of experience at HSS. She brings product knowledge and is able to give her advice on the right tool for the job no matter how big or small.

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