How to Choose the Best Cement Mixer
Keen DIYers will know the benefit of using a cement mixer. Whilst mixing cement yourself can be done – it’s certainly pretty hard work.
Cement mixers are available in a range of sizes and can suit a variety of budgets. Naturally, there are a lot of large, professional cement mixers to buy or rent, but most smaller projects don’t warrant such a big machine.
On this page, we’re focusing more on ‘personal’ cement mixers – with a mixing capacity of 90 L or less – that can save time and energy during DIY projects around the home.
Choosing the best cement mixer will depend on what you want to use it for, and the following information will help you make an informed decision.
Buying vs. Renting
Straight away you might be thinking – why would I buy a small cement mixer when I could just rent a large one?
If you’re only doing jobs around the home, such as mixing concrete for foundations, pathways and drives, you may not need a mixer with a huge drum. Renting mixers can get pretty expensive, and the cost of buying a small mixer may work out to be the same as renting a larger one – or even work out cheaper. Plus, when you own the mixer yourself, you have more room for error; it won’t cost you by the day if your project runs over.
Owning a mixer can be particularly useful for DIYers who are about to embark on a string of different projects in the house and garden. Mixing construction materials by hands can be really tough work.
When you own a mixer, you may also find that it comes in handy for family and friends as well. Some small mixers can be easily transported in the car.
Choosing the Right Capacity
Don’t get caught out when trying to work out the capacity of a mixer. Manufacturers often state both the mixer’s entire volume capacity, as well as its mixing capacity. The volume capacity refers to the volume of the whole drum. Naturally, not all of this will be usable space when mixing. The mixing capacity is a much more useful number to keep an eye on – it will tell you roughly how much you can mix in one go.
Bear in mind that materials like cement will only be usable for about an hour after being poured from the mixer; therefore, it’s important not to make too much or it will be wasted. For reference, if a mixer has an 80 L capacity, its contents will roughly fill a standard wheelbarrow.
Ease of Portability and Size
Even the relatively small mixers that are featured on this page can be quite heavy, weighing around 60 kg. Although the majority or models have wheels, heavier machines can still be hard to manage. This is especially true if you need to lift the mixer onto a stand, or lift it over different levels in the garden.
Whilst some machines come with a frame that is integral to the mixer, others can be lifted on and off the stand as required. This can help with storage, as it allows the mixer to be divided into two pieces. However, some people may struggle to lift the heavy body of the mixer onto the frame by themselves.
Also, although this may not be relevant to everyone, you should consider if you will ever need to transport your mixer in the car. Smaller mixers, with a mixing capacity of around 45 L, frequently fit in the car boot or back seat (lying down). Whilst it might not be the first thing that customers consider when buying a mixer, this added element of transportability can be useful.
You should make sure to check the particular mixer’s dimensions carefully. Sometimes, even mixers with a relatively small capacity can have a large frame.
When purchasing a cement mixer, it’s important to think about where you’re going to store it. Some mixers are specifically designed for compact storage, whilst others are very bulky so will be harder to store unless you have a lot of space available.
Finally, don’t get caught out if you need to fit a wheelbarrow under the cement mixer. Some small cement mixers are too low to the ground to allow a wheelbarrow to go under them. In these cases, you will either have to move the product using buckets, or put the mixer on a raised platform before starting the job.
Choosing Between Electric or Petrol Cement Mixers
Although all of the cement mixers on this page are powered by mains electricity, it’s also possible to get petrol-powered mixers.
This section will just briefly outline the pros and cons of each type of machine.
For home use and smaller tasks, you’re unlikely to need anything other than electric cement mixer. These are cheaper to buy/rent, low maintenance and require no additional fuel. All you’ll need is a power source.
Electric cement mixers are very easy to use and generally lighter than petrol powered models. The only downside is that you’ll need a power source nearby, or for it to have a very long cord.
Petrol mixers can be used anywhere and don’t need to be used near a power source – this is why they’re commonly used in professional settings. They tend to be more powerful than electric versions – which may well be unnecessary for standard DIY. However, petrol cement mixers are high maintenance and more expensive. They aren’t good for the environment and tend to be a lot heavier than electric models.
Cement Mixer FAQs
Should I rent or buy a cement mixer?
This will depend on the length of your DIY project, as well as how many projects you’ve got lined up.
If you only need the mixer for a couple of days, for a one-off job, it’ll be cheaper to rent. However, if there’s a possibility that the job will drag on (bad weather/lack of time/other complications), it might start becoming more worthwhile to buy an inexpensive, small mixer.
Also, if you’re in the middle of a full renovation job at home, it’ll likely be cheaper just to buy a mixer outright. This will give you a lot more flexibility on when you can use it, and will probably work out to the same money as renting a mixer in the long run.
How do I maintain my cement mixer?
You should never let your cement mixer run dry. Instead, add a small amount of sand and lots of water to the drum and turn it on for a few minutes. If you allow it to run dry, hard concrete will form on the drum which is virtually impossible to remove.
You should remove any debris from the blades after every use using a stiff brush, as well as removing debris from the motor.
Finally, you should regularly oil your cement mixer to keep all parts running smoothly.
How large a mixer do I need for small jobs around the home?
Bearing in mind that a standard wheelbarrow is around 80 L, that is usually a good size to consider when buying a mixer. Bear in mind that this means the mixing capacity needs to be around 80 L – not the total volume capacity. If you’re working with a mix that will set, like concrete, you don’t want to make more than you can work with, so a wheel-barrow load is likely a good size to aim for. If this sounds like too much, you may want to consider a mixer with a smaller mixing capacity of around 45 L.