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Misc Masonry Q's & A's

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Mixing cement

I am trying my hand at cement for the first time. I would like to know how many parts sand, and how many cement. I'm going to try to make a walkway. any other information you can give for beginners will be appreciated. thanks a bunch.

For a walkway I would use 3/4 aggregate as follows per yd.

Cement 580 pounds, sand 1250 pounds, gravel 1730 pounds and water 290 pounds.

You can break this down to cubic feet of concrete by dividing by 27. Use separate buckets for each material marking them so that you don't have to weigh them every time. A bathroom scale can be used to weigh the ingredients. Simply repeat the cubic foot mixture until you have enough for your walkway.



I'm trying to install rock slabs over steel mesh & concrete & running into problems. Only the very lightest of rock will stay up. I am using real rock. Am I mixing the cement wrong or should I be using something else?

The only stone that I have seen installed the way you are trying is the fake stone poured out of light weight concrete. Most real stone is too heavy to be supported by the bond of the mortar to the plaster scratch coat. If you have a foundation of concrete or block you could use quick bolts and fasten an angle iron to the wall and lay your stone on that.


Removing cement

I had a friend do some work in my house about two weeks ago and he mixed portland cement with sand on my concrete backyard. When I went to flush the remainder down the drain he said to wait until it dried because it might stop up the drain. Unfortunately think I waited too long and now there is an unsightly mess there. What can I use to clean it?

I'd get a new friend. But really the only thing that will "melt" or attack the cement is acid. If there was no other additives such as acrylic in the mix an acid should do the trick. You can start with vinegar (a mild acid) and work your way up to muriatic acid (strong and DANGEROUS). Allow the acid to sit for a few minutes and agitate with a broom and flush with lots of water.

Shelves and concrete

I am trying to put up a wooden shelving unit which will hold a medium weight but I am having alot of trouble attaching it to the wall. I have tried wall plugs of all descriptions and then screwing the unit to the wall put I think the wall is not brick but soft concrete. As I drill the hole for the plug a grey dust comes out with it. Do you have any suggestions how I can attach the unit to the wall???

You just need the right plugs. The grey dust is the cement that the drill bit is drilling away so yes you will get dust when drilling through anything. The grey just means plaster or cement. There are special cement/mortar plugs, so ask for them. They are called masonry plugs and often come with the screw also.

Efflorescence removal

Our company has about 12,000 ground and polished decorative block that has two coats of a 20% solid sealer on them. The problem is there are areas of efflorescence bleeding through. How do we remove it?

Efflorescence is caused by the salts in the block leaching to the surface this usually happens in areas of high humidity. It can be removed by washing with either a strong detergent or muriatic acid such as sure klean or similar product. But if you don't find the source of the moisture can and most often will reoccur.

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I need help in removing effervescence (white powder looking residue) from freshly poured concrete. Looking for something that may be more cost effective than the strong off the shelf items available at construction supply places.

You should NOT be experiencing efflorescence with newly poured concrete. If you are, you probably have bigger problems than a typical acid wash solution can cure. Sometimes salt additives to concrete mixes for cold weather pouring, (Not added in the right amounts), can produce what looks like efflorescence but is actually a breaking down of the concrete mix itself. Check with local professionals before you proceed. This sounds like a problem.

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