Cement questions

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by K. Sanderson, May 3, 2004.

  1. K. Sanderson

    K. Sanderson Active Member

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    :confused: We've been pricing cement for a garage slab, and are choking at the price -- readi-mix is almost three times as high as it was a few years ago, the last time I priced it. :eek: So we are trying to figure out what it would cost to do the whole thing by hand. But we need to know how much mix (cu. ft.) can be made from a bag of cement, both the pre-mix kind and the straight cement that needs sand and gravel added -- the bags don't say, and the guy at Home Depot didn't know. And since I didn't get all my construction books when my marriage broke up, I need to know how much sand and gravel to add per bag, also. (Thought I had that information here somewhere, but can't find it.) And does anyone know how many inches thick a garage slab needs to be? I had figured six inches, but then was wondering if four inches would be sufficient. We wouldn't be putting anything very heavy in there -- no tanks or anything. :D A lot of questions, but it sure would be appreciated if someone can help us figure this out.

    Thanks,

    Kathleen
     
  2. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A cubic yard of concrete needs at least 5 bags of cement. 4 inches thick would be the minimum. It will strengthen it if you put reinforcing wire in the floor. Using the premixed bags would be far to expensive for a project this size.
     

  3. K. Sanderson

    K. Sanderson Active Member

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    Thank you, uncle Will. Readi-mix is running $77-$80.50/cu.yd. here, while pre-mix in bags would (I think, if I guessed anywhere close on final volume) *only* be about $57/cu.yd. Looks like cement plus sand plus gravel might run us around $40/cu.yd., or so. It will help to be able to make the garage floor only four inches thick -- we already planned to use reinforcing mesh. Only I don't know if I can manage 94 lb. bags of cement!! :eek: 50 lb. bags of feed are pretty close to my limit.

    Nine regular trusses with one end truss are going to cost almost $700, readi-mix concrete plus forms, re-bar, mesh, and anchor bolts I figured at around $1500 -- and we are trying to stay under $3,000 for the whole thing! We were quoted about $10,000 for a contractor to build this 20'X22' attached garage. I'm going to need to build a house one of these days -- am cringing at the thought already.

    Kathleen
     
  4. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you want this to be a two car garage you really will be happier going 24x24. You could put a load of pea gravel or fine crushed stone on the floor and get by until your ship comes in. Using poles would save putting in a foundation until you could put in a floor. Mixing concrete by hand is hard work. it's a real back breaker for anyone not toughened in to bending and lifting.
     
  5. Gercarson

    Gercarson Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I heard on local talk radio today that the price of cement was becoming more expensive because China is doing a great deal of building and has basically cornered the market - making it much more expensive here in the U.S.A. - it all sounded reasonable the way it was presented but I'm curioius - doesn't China have it's own cement producers? It must be expensive to ship also.
     
  6. K. Sanderson

    K. Sanderson Active Member

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    We don't have much choice on the size. The house is a new manufactured, and we had them put a dormer on for the garage -- the dormer is 22' wide. And due to where the drain field had to go, the house ended up just barely far enough from the property line to allow for a 20' deep garage to be added. So, garage has to be 22'X20'. We're only going to put one car door on it, anyway, as we want most of the space for storage and work area, so the size will work for us.

    We may have to go with gravel on the floor for now, but it would be easier to work in there with a cement floor. Also need it for the freezer, though while we were in a rental waiting for this house to be ready, we did have the freezer on a gravel floor, sitting on a couple of boards. We'll have to see what we come up with when I have all the estimates finished. We plan to either buy a used cement mixer, or rent one, and I've done a little cement work before, helping with deliveries of readi-mix. I considered pole construction, but to keep Grandma happy, the garage needs to match the house as closely as possible. And I've only worked with stud-frame construction before. It just doesn't seem like a good time to be learning something new, on Grandma's dollar. If I was doing this for myself, I'd be doing all sorts of *odd-ball* things! :D

    Kathleen
     
  7. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    The premixed bags are only intended for post holes, not cement floors, it is a lower grade and has a horribly reduced lifespan compared to the real stuff. Are you a pay now or more later after the tear out, person.
     
  8. K. Sanderson

    K. Sanderson Active Member

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    GeorgeK, thank you -- I didn't know that about the pre-mix stuff. But we weren't planning on using it, anyway. What we want to use is the cement that you add sand and gravel to. Is it also poor quality? Because we really can't afford readi-mix, just don't have enough money. The whole job would have to wait if we had to go that route.

    And thank you to the person who posted the link to the military manual -- that looks like it will be really helpful! Thankfully military manuals are usually written for the almost totally ignorant, such as myself! :eek:

    Kathleen
     
  9. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    an 80 pound bag of premix is 2/3 of a cubic foot.
    a 60 pound bag is 1/2 cubic foot.
    a 40 pound bag is 1/3 cubic foot.

    a cubic yard equals 27 cubic feet

    a 22 x 20 pad is 440 sq feet,
    most pads are 4"
    thats a little more than 146 cubic feet
    or 5.4 cubic yards

    Thats about 220 bags of 80 lb mix

    Cement to sand always confuses me. You can stretch the sand but it weakens the cement. I hear pro's say things like "7 bag mix is pretty rich." I take this to mean that 7 bags of portland cement per cubic yard is light on sand and heavy on cement. Some Portland comes in 92.6 pound bags. A yard weighs 3240 pounds. That works out to about 1 part portland to 4 parts sand by weight. I don't know enough to know how much sand is too much.

    If you buy portland and sand separately you will need at least 40 bags of portland, if you scrimp a little on the cement. That means you need 4-4.5 cubic yards of sand delivered. You can replace up to 35% of the portland with fly ash, but now days they charge the same. Its still a good idea because it makes the cement easier to work and much stronger when you're done. It also dramatically cuts carbon dioxide emission during the cure.

    It may not be cheaper to mix your own. Consider the cost of getting 3000 pounds of cement home and unloaded, then the delivery and purchase cost for the sand. You might save a few hundred on the whole project, but you'll have to work hard. Of course if you have 5.4 yards delivered, you'll need a crew.
     
  10. shakeytails in KY

    shakeytails in KY Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't even consider mixing that much concrete, even with a portable mixer. My first concern would be being able to mix it quick enough for a more-or-less continuous pour. And just the thought of shoveling sand and cement and gravel into a mixer makes my back hurt!

    Also, while a 4 in. slab calculates out to about 5 1/2 yards, order at least 6 yards(10% over) just in case. I've never been sorry I ordered extra. I try to have something else formed up (stepping stones, sidewalk, etc,) in case I have too much.
     
  11. unioncreek

    unioncreek Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am going to pour part of my barn 24 x 24 and have prices it both ways. You don't save much by doing it yourself. I figure only about $20, my time is spent better doing other things.

    Bob.
     
  12. 65284

    65284 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You also need to add in the cost of gravel under the slab and a moisture barrier. I hate to be negative but there is a lot more to concrete work than just knowing the correct mix. If you do this right, and you will very likely be sorry if you don't, it will take a lot more than 6 yards. I wouldn't even consider pouring a slab that size without a footing at least twelve inches wide and eighteen inches deep, or below the frost line in your location, all the way around the perimeter. Unless you have a crew willing to do a lot of hard work, and put in a long day I would forget the self mixed idea. Unless you are willing do it in sections, which is not a good idea because of "cold joint" problems you need some with a good bit of experience in concrete work to help with this project. Concrete should be poured on a continuous basis, so it can be screeded (leveled) and then worked (troweled) at the proper time. To get maximum strength and finish concrete has to be troweled, do you have access to and experience in running a power trowel? On a self mix pour that size unless you have a very large mixer, and depending on the weather that day, the first part you pour could need to be worked before you are finished pouring. While this is not impossible for you to do, unless you have some real "forming to finish" experience or can get help from someone that does, this could turn into an expensive nightmare. You don't want to spend the amount of money it will take, even if you do it yourself, and possibly end up with a unlevel, weak, or poorly finished floor.
     
  13. Bret F

    Bret F Well-Known Member

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    I have done garage pads in an unorhtodox method, with good results. The last one was 24' x 25' x 6" deep (11.1 yards).
    I had a dump truck deliver "road mix" that we spread out evenly with the tractor and scraper blade. I framed in the pad space with 2x8's prior to putting the gravel down. For a five bag mix, I purchased 56 bags of Portland Cement. I drew divisions in the gravel for the 56 bags and spread out the cement evenly. Then we brought in a rototiller and dry mixed the gravel and cement.
    Next we had a garden hose on each side of the tiller putting water where it was mixing. The tiller would not get tight at the edges so we shoveled that mix into the wet mix we were making. This method uses incrediblily larger amounts of water that standard cement mixing. After is was all mixed we ran a shaker across it to drive the rocks down. That was followed up by a bull float to bring it all realitvely flat. (My handle was a bit short, so I have a dip in the back 2' of the garage). After it was set up, I troweled it out twice.

    There were five of us doing the work and the actual mixing and floating phase took about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. The total cost for it was about 20 percent of what the local concrete company would have charged.

    We did this seciton in '98 and park a car and pick-up on it and have no cracks.
    Bret
     
  14. Jim S.

    Jim S. Well-Known Member

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    Ready mix is the way to go IMHO! I have a "back to the land" friend who learned the hard way building his house. The time is what kills you as much as the workload. It is difficult to pour a slab with some curing while you are still adding fresh, and not have it crack later.

    Best way to save is to be sure you get only what you need (the concrete plant can calculate it based on dimensions and depth), get a couple quotes if you can, and don't make the floor any deeper than you need to. 4 inches is plenty deep for most garages where heavy equipment won't be parked.

    You can also investigate the fibered concrete, which has fiberglass mixed in it. That allows you in many cases to skip rebar and wire reinforcements, saving you some cash right there. It is very strong.
     
  15. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Although it wouldn't be cheap either, can you get by with a wood floor? Perhaps have the foundation walls and base prepared as if concrete were going to be poured. Then put down a vapor barrier, spaced apart 3" x 6" treated timbers (called bridge timbers) and then treated 2" x 4"s side-by-side across them, screwed into the timbers. If you get around to a concrete pad in the future you would just need to take up the wood.

    On the fiberglass strands. When I had the creek crossing pad poured I ordered superstrength concrete as fully loaded trucks of riprap would be crossing it. On one load it had to sit and wait for the fiberglass to be brought from another plant. When it arrived the driver carried up a bag of about 3" x 14" x 24" for the entire load. However, when it was being floated you could see the strands were thoroughly mixed with the concrete.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  16. horselogger

    horselogger Well-Known Member

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    please bear in mind that those bags of ready mix are onlyabout a half a cubi foot;I have a half a pallet of them on my truck as I type this. I live so far out that the minuinmum the ready mix company will deliver is three yards. I only need 21 cubic fee. The cost doing it this way is 105 dollars per yard,a lot of back brakikng labor,and concrete that hasn't the strength of redimix with fiber mesh. Get the truck in there and swallow the price. Make absolutely sure that you have rebar and that they include that fibermesh. You will be happier!!!
     
  17. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    While the mentioned 4 inches is adequate for the main part of the slab, the edge where the vehicles enter should be dug out at least 6 inches for about 1 foot inward; most cracks start where there is load stress. Secondly, concrete has a 'compaction factor', 5 cubic yards of concrete takes about 5 1/2 (by volume) dry materials, the air space between the sand and gravel is filled by the wet cement mix to cause this.
     
  18. george darby

    george darby Well-Known Member

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    i work for a testing firm that verifies construction materials , while i can tell some horror stories of bad concrete from the ready mix companies the majority and i mean 99.9% is better than you will probably mix yourself usually the ready mix calculates out cheeper than the bag mixes and you would be handling tons! of materials and not getting it uniform by hand mixing mabey cost effective iff you do like the old timers and have lots of large rocks to get rid of and dropp them in a thin concrete to make up volume ,still handling tons and sacrificing quality , concrete should be poured as dry as possible for max streanth ,free water should not seperate from the concrete after pouring . the fibers are over rated if the slab will be exposed to the weather you will want an air additive . another consideration is if the sand and gravel you intend to use in hand mixing is sutable for concrete there could be high levels of clay ,organics or othe deleteriouse material in it resulting in soft concrete or surface spalling the ready mix companies have sand and gravel sources tested to make shure they are usable . a lot of what you do depends on local soil conditions when considering how to prepare under the slab , we have areas of expansive clays here and even the best builders have trouble.most concrete disasters are caused by attemping to pour in extream weather and ether cooking or freezing the concrete before it can cure .china was exporting cement a few years ago dropping the prices now of course they are using it in realation to the 3 gorges dam and other developement
     
  19. cowgirlone

    cowgirlone Well-Known Member

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    Interesting Bret F!
    I enjoy seeing new ways to do things. :)