Tools for Mixing Concrete: How to Choose the Right One

Tools for Mixing Concrete: How to Choose the Right One

Concrete mixing is a precise process of mixing the right amounts of portland cement, water and aggregates, such as gravel, in order to get a smooth, wet product that cures into a solid foundation or surface. When you have a temporary, short-term or one-off residential construction or landscaping project, you may need to mix your own concrete using concrete mixing tool rentals.

Our guide on how to choose a concrete mixer will cover some of the commonly used types of equipment for mixing, transporting and pouring concrete so you can get a smooth, even finish on your concrete slab.

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Types of Equipment Used for Concrete Mixing

To get a high-quality end product, concrete contractors need the right tools for the job. Concrete mixing tools need to be efficient and cost-effective, helping to reduce manual labor and streamline the mixing process.

Whether you need to mix, dispense, transport, pour, set or agitate concrete, The Cat® Rental Store has the rental tools for you. Below are the top kinds of equipment used for concrete mixing and pouring in concrete projects.

concrete mixing buckets

1. Buckets

There are several ways to mix concrete depending on the size of the project and the amount of concrete needed. Buckets are one of the simplest and most convenient ways to contain, mix and pour concrete.

As manual concrete mixing tools, concrete buckets don’t require electricity to power them, meaning they can be placed anywhere on the site without restrictions. Being a more compact and stationary solution, concrete mixing buckets are also ideal in situations where access is limited for larger mixers.

Concrete mixing buckets work by using a helical bucket auger that churns concrete in the center. Churning concrete provides quick mixing rates and an even finished mixture. The bucket itself is usually made from reinforced steel or aluminum to be able to safely and securely hold heavy, wet materials like concrete or mortar. Wear-resistant bucket material provides a durable and long-lasting container for repeated use.

Concrete buckets, also known as concrete hoppers, have several advantages for concrete contracting including:

  • Easy cleanup
  • Fast delivery solution
  • Efficient containment, mixing and pouring

Concrete buckets vary in capacity from 0.5 to 4 cubic yards of cement. For added convenience, you can attach chutes and trunks to be able to conveniently place and pour concrete.

2. Wheelbarrows and Buggies

Wheelbarrows, also known as concrete buggies, are powered concrete mixing and transport solutions. Unlike buckets, which are typically stationary solutions, concrete buggies are wheeled tools, meaning they can easily move about the site, being repositioned wherever needed for precise pouring. They can also be used for spot pouring, given their maneuverability.

Powered wheelbarrows are usually fueled by propane or gasoline with hydraulic pumps to pressurize the flow of the concrete in front of the central tub. Some models of powered wheelbarrows also have an adjustable platform for workers to ride on for better ergonomics.

Proper ergonomics is one of the key advantages of powered wheelbarrows for concrete mixing. Concrete is a heavy material to move around a job site, often resulting in back strains and sprains. Having a powered wheelbarrow cuts back on the amount of physical labor and heavy lifting that’s required, reducing labor costs and increasing productivity.

The Cat Rental Store carries a wide selection of powered wheelbarrows for concrete mixing, including models from reputable brands such as Genie, Multiquip and Toro. Choose from a range of load capacities, from 123 pounds for a small gas-powered mud buggy to 3,200 pounds provided by a large-capacity concrete spreader.

wheelbarrows and buggies

3. Portable Mixers

Being able to properly and thoroughly mix concrete is essential to the structural integrity of the project you’re constructing. Whether you're pouring a concrete foundation or a garden pathway, properly mixed concrete ensures your project is built properly from the start, reducing the need for costly rework.

High-quality portable concrete mixers are designed to handle concrete, helping you to properly mix, pour and set concrete to prevent structural issues. With a portable mixer, the concrete ingredients — cement, water and aggregates — get added to the unit’s revolving drum. A powered crankshaft then rotates the drum so that the concrete ingredients get adequately mixed.

Some of the advantages of portable concrete mixers over buckets or buggies include:

  • Automatic mixing, eliminating the need for manual mixing with a drill or shovel
  • Fast mixing rates to get more concrete mixture processed in less time
  • Able to be set up directly at the worksite for convenient access

Portable concrete mixers make readily available fresh concrete on your job site when you need it. Providing small to medium-sized batches of concrete, portable mixers are ideal for spot pouring and smaller projects that don’t need a large concrete truck, which can be costly and require extensive preparation and logistics planning.

Portable concrete mixers are available for rent from The Cat Rental Store range in drum volumes from 9 to 50 cubic feet.

4. Power Drills

When using a concrete mixing vessel like buckets or powered wheelbarrows, you need a way to physically stir or mix the concrete being contained in these units. It’s common to use a shovel or a spade to mix cement ingredients manually, requiring lots of steady, physical force to get an even mixture. To reduce the amount of physical labor and exertion required to manually mix and stir concrete ingredients, use a power tool to give you the automatic mixing power needed.

Power drills outfitted with a paddle or mixer attachment can be used to evenly mix concrete in a bucket or wheelbarrow to be ready for pouring. Mixing paddles for cordless or handheld power drills are ideal mixing tools needed to produce smaller batches of concrete for residential or commercial construction and landscaping projects. 

With power drills and mixer attachments, you’re able to control the amount of torque and speed needed to adequately mix your cement ingredients. This gives you more control over the amount of cement you’re able to mix in the amount of time given.

This mixing solution is perfect for job sites where no electricity is available since cordless power drills are battery-operated. When electricity is available, you can also use corded electric concrete drills, which double as concrete breaking and drilling tools for other aspects of your concrete projects.


5. Trowels

To get a smooth finished concrete product, you need a way to remove irregularities. Troweling concrete helps improve the condition of the concrete mixture, boosting its durability and surface quality.

The benefits of troweling concrete mix include:

  • Reduces risk of concrete cracking
  • Improves hardness and quality of finished product
  • Prevents uneven drying of the poured concrete mixture

There are a few different types of trowels, including manual trowels that can be used for both mixing and finishing. While hand troweling is still a common and preferred way to smooth concrete on small projects, there are also convenient powered-troweling solutions available to help reduce physical labor.

Below is a comparison of the types of power trowels:

  • Walk-behind trowels: When hand troweling is inconvenient or too time-consuming for use on larger surfaces, walk-behind trowels are a useful solution. Walk-behind power trowels help save back-breaking work while improving the density and smoothness of a concrete slab surface. Walk-behind power trowels give you more control over concrete finishing, helping it to retain its flatness long-term.
  • Ride-on trowels: Get an even finish over a large concrete surface with a ride-on trowel. For surfaces of 6,000 square feet or more, ride-on trowels provide the coverage area and weight to produce the flattest concrete surface possible.

The Cat Rental Store has both walk-behind and ride-on trowels for rent to help improve your concrete mixing, pouring and finishing project efficiency.

6. Concrete Vibrators

Once concrete is poured, it often still contains lots of air pockets that need to be eliminated before the mixture gets cured in place. Having too many air bubbles reduces the density of the concrete, affecting its longevity. Vibrating freshly poured concrete helps to eliminate air bubbles and strengthen the finished product.

Concrete vibrators come in different forms, depending on the type of concrete project. Surface concrete vibrators, also known as jumpers, are used directly on the poured concrete surface to help reduce bubbles and improve the appearance of the finished product. Use surface vibrators on poured concrete in hardscapes, driveways or deck surfaces. Surface vibrators are ideal for concrete depths of no more than 6 inches.

In many jurisdictions, vibrating concrete is part of the building code because of its tremendous impact on the quality of structural integrity. How long you should vibrate concrete depends on the thickness and the surface area of the poured slab. The most important criteria for using a concrete vibrator on a freshly poured slab is to work efficiently and be prepared to work as soon as the concrete is poured. Delaying vibrating can cause unevenness when parts of the slab cure before they’ve had a chance to be agitated.

Concrete vibrators available at The Cat Rental Store include models from trusted brands Multiquip, Wacker-Neuson and Weber.

concrete dumpers

7. Concrete Dumpers

When it comes to concrete construction, you need reliable tools to take care of the various elements of the job. Mixing concrete is only one aspect of the project. You also need the appropriate solution to transport your mixture quickly and safely to the pouring site.

Concrete dumpers from The Cat Rental Store allow you to move concrete to the worksite in preparation for setting. Similar to dump trucks, concrete site dumpers are a smaller version whereby the operator sits in the cab and unloads the wet concrete mixture from the front of the cab. This compact footprint gives operators better maneuverability to be able to pour smaller slabs with greater access and precision.

Concrete site dumper rentals at The Cat Rental store are diesel-powered units with a load and discharge capacity of 84 gallons per minute, making them the ideal temporary solution for a one-time residential construction or landscaping project. Manufactured by a globally recognized brand, Wacker-Neuson, our site dumper rentals are reliable concrete pouring tools available for your next project.

8. Mortar Mixers

In addition to concrete mixing tools, concrete rental equipment from The Cat Rental Store can also be used for mortar mixing. If you’re building a brick or stone retaining wall, stepping path, water fountain or other hardscape feature, you need access to fresh mortar that’s been properly blended for adequate bonding and curing. 

Mortar mixer rentals allow you to create a precise mixture of concrete, water and sand to produce a smooth bonding agent to set brick and stone productions in place. Visit The Cat Rental Store near you to view our range of mortar mixing tools and other masonry and bricklaying tools for your next project.

Considerations for Choosing Concrete Mixing Tools

Since there's a wide variety of concrete mixing, pouring and setting tools, it’s crucial to know how to choose the right one. Each tool serves a unique purpose and is most suitable in specific situations and applications. Which type of concrete tools to choose depends on several factors, including your own experience level and the type of project you’re working on.

Consider the following factors to help you when choosing concrete mixers:

  • Project size: How much concrete you need for your project will determine the best type of mixing tool to use. For smaller projects involving hardscape features, like concrete planters or stepping stones, a bucket with a shovel, spade or electric paddle mixer will suffice. However, for larger projects involving greater quantities of concrete mix, powered mixers are more efficient. The types of projects that require portable, gas or diesel-powered mixers might include driveways, patios and pool decks.
  • Project type: For small installations or DIY home projects, a concrete bucket rental is ideal. It’s self-contained and easy to operate, not requiring a power source. However, for larger commercial or multi-residential projects involving pouring multiple concrete slabs for patios, driveways or sidewalks, having larger capacity portable mixers is more convenient. Portable mixers allow you to transport the mixture directly to the worksite so you can work efficiently.
  • Rental availability: Another important consideration when choosing your ideal type of concrete mixing tool is what equipment is readily available for rent. Partnering with a reputable rental provider increases the chances of having a wide selection of tools at your disposal. Ideally, you’ll want to select the most efficient type of mixer for the scale of the project to maximize productivity.
choose the cat rental store for concrete mixing tools

Choose The Cat® Rental Store for Concrete Mixing Tools

Renting concrete mixing tools give you the on-demand availability, cost-effectiveness and convenience to complete your concrete project productively and profitably. Browse through our inventory of concrete rental equipment to find a range of concrete mixing, pouring, drilling and sawing tools.

For help selecting the right concrete mixing and pouring rental tools for your construction project, visit The Cat Rental Store. Search through our over 1,300 global locations to find a store near you. Fill out a convenient quick quote to send a rental request to your nearby dealer. To speak with a rental representative directly, call us today at 1-800-RENT-CAT.

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