If you’re anything like me, when you hear the word concrete, you think cold, grey mausoleums – Vast and grim 60’s monstrosities which need tearing down. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Are we all too ready to judge concrete on its worst examples, rather than its best?
Iconic London examples like the Hayward Gallery and the Barbican are loved and venerated, their popularity assured. We are now starting to appreciate the beauty, style and versatility that concrete can provide to both buildings and objects.
So, in homage to oft-maligned concrete, read on for DIY inspiration using ready mix concrete around the home.
Concrete is very common, in fact, it is said to be the second most used substance in the world, after water. Ready-mix concrete, as the name suggests is ready to go – just add water. It can be moulded into any shape, as long as you have or can make a mould to pour it into.
It does take time to set – if you are using concrete to walk on, it can take up to 28 days to properly harden, but for other things listed here a few hours or a day at most should suffice.
Who doesn’t dream of their own swimming pool on a hot summer’s day? Concrete pools provide the durability and safety you need when dealing with a heavy mass of water, but they are quite complex. Pools such as this one are fun for all the family, but require extensive planning, money and of course concrete – but let it inspire you to make your own pool, your way.
You could also create a concrete pond, water feature and give your outdoor space extra vitality and tranquillity. Or maybe try this creative fountain, using concrete and an old umbrella! What about some fake rock, a cave or grotto (literally a man cave) or this crazy concrete tent idea – just add water!
Although these outdoor ideas are exciting and fun, they do require a lot of concrete and expertise in how to lay and set it safely, quickly and correctly. In these situations, it is much better value to use a professional ready-mix concrete supplier. They have the experience to advise and provide you with important information regarding quantity, the mix of the concrete (to make sure it doesn’t set too soon), and the access to the location. You don’t want a fun project to end in a concrete disaster!
If water isn’t your thing, but you do want to brighten up your garden, consider making these funky planters, or a more classic larger version which includes simple instructions for success. If you want to get a bit more creative, here are some more decorative ideas – a classic stone lion created using a latex mould, a beautiful and original flower pot idea (other colours are available!) and for the more functional but still beautiful, a stone garden light.
You could make a cement candle holder keep your garden illuminated at night or this frankly awesome LED light, which would work not only in the garden but anywhere in the house – it looks so cool and can be portable or powered by a computer.
If you want to engage your arty side, then the world is your oyster, why not try an ambitious but beautiful sculpture-like my favourite, these spectacular and highly topical Halloween sculptures. Boo! 🎃 So creative, and you only need an old t-shirt, plastic pipe, some string and a balloon – oh, and some concrete of course!
When it comes to mixing ready mix concrete it’s not too complicated, but hand sculpting requires specific instructions – to make sure it is easier to work with.
Moving indoors your opportunities are endless, coasters, stools (using just a bucket), candleholders (using an old water bottle), bookends or even some cool tables. In fact, anything you want could be made with concrete – you are only limited by your imagination! This video even includes how to make a concrete table and a concrete vase and if you really wanted to go for it, what about a whole kitchen countertop.
My favourites are the creative sculptures, here’s a beautiful swan which will really test your skills. But what if you have a drab and boring looking wall? Why not treat it like another canvas, a 3-D canvas and fashion whatever raised design you fancy.
Finally, a small warning. Use caution when working with Concrete. Cement, found in concrete, is corrosive and toxic to the touch when mixed with water, (or even when moist) causing serious skin irritation and breathing problems if inhaled. Cement also contains Silica dust, which can be deadly if inhaled.
With this in mind, consider adequate PPE including masks, goggles/glasses and gloves when mixing concrete and if using large amounts, we highly recommend the use of a professional ready-mix cement service.