IN: Competition advice / Learn

Tips for Working with Concrete

Here are some of the best resources to guide you through the production phase.


As you begin crafting your entry, many factors will have an impact on the process, from planning to mixing, to setting and making those final touches. Concrete is a versatile substance, as evidenced by its many diverse applications. With that versatility, however, comes a plethora of challenges that require smart thinking and creativity to ensure your entry is top-notch - so be prepared! Below are some resources to help you identify and overcome potential challenges during production:


  1. Concrete for Beginners: Knowing What You Don’t Know

For first-time concrete users, crafting a product using concrete may be daunting, if not downright nerve-wracking. Don’t worry: our “Concrete for Beginners” series, teaches you everything you need to know about curing, reinforcement, using the right tools and more…

Read more:


  1. Making Concrete

The secret to making concrete is using a good powder-packed cement that offers extra strength, and adding as little water to it as possible. Too much water will weaken your structure, so be sure to get the ratios right. These tips will help you to produce concrete for almost any structure:

In addition, be sure to mix enough concrete for what you want to create. Calculate how much concrete you will need for your piece with these simple considerations:


  1. Understanding Aggregates

Aggregates are inert granular materials such as sand, gravel or crushed stone that account for up to 75% of concrete’s total value. Understanding aggregates is key to working better with concrete, so we’ve put together a little crash course on aggregates to help you understand how to better leverage their properties for your work.

Learn more:


  1. Admixtures

Admixtures can have various benefits including better strength, durability, cost reduction, setting time adjustment, maintaining or improving workability and accelerating strength development during the early stages. The Concrete Institute lists six types of admixtures: plasticisers (water-reducing agents), superplasticisers (high-range water reducers), air entrainers, accelerators, retarders and others. Learn more about these admixtures here:


  1. Moulding

Wonderfully, concrete can be cast into any shape or form, provided there is a mould for said shape or form. One of the best moulds to use when working with concrete is a silicone mould. Follow these steps to create the ideal silicone mould for your entry:


  1. Placing Concrete

After mastering how to make and mix concrete, the next step is learning how to place it. These tips from PPC will give you a better understanding of all the steps involved when placing your concrete:


  1. Shrinking

Concrete, or more correctly cement-water paste, shrinks as it dries out. This is because its very fine pores contract as water is lost and expand if water is regained at a later stage. The resulting crack pattern is typically one of random, non-continuous cracks, often parallel to each other. By understanding what causes shrinkage, you can learn how to prevent cracking in your concrete piece:


  1. Curing

Concrete needs to be cured in order to increase its strength and permeability. For important steps and considerations, read our quick guide to curing:


  1. The Final Touches

Using concrete does not have to mean limiting its colour or texture to that of a parking garage ceiling.

  • Learn to colour your concrete with this straightforward step-by-step guide:
  • Concrete can be rough and raw, or smooth and polished. The process of polishing concrete is not dissimilar from sanding wood, so why not try polishing your entry? Learn more:


  1. Troubleshooting

When starting to use any new medium, there will always be a period of trial and error. When working with concrete as a beginner, you could face issues such as mixing concrete that is either too wet or too dry, visible concrete reinforcement and cracking. Overcome these issues with our handy how-to guide:


  1. Safety

Whether you’re an expert in working with concrete and cement or are new to the medium, the handling, application and storage of concrete and cement products require cautious treatment. Here’s how you can protect yourself from incurring minor or major injuries:  


  1. The Environment

When it comes to being responsible and protecting the environment, we all have a role to play. Here’s how you can show your respect for the environment when you’re working with concrete:

Related Articles