What Concrete Mix Is Best For A Patio?
A patio is a great addition to your backyard, especially if you have a pool. The most common material they’re built out of is concrete. It’s a very versatile material that can be poured into any shape and then smoothed, colored, textured and stamped. And concrete is very strong so it can easily handle the weight of people and all your outdoor furniture. If you build the patio right, it won’t crack, buckle or deteriorate. But to get all these benefits the concrete mix for a patio has to be just right. Too weak and it could end up cracking over time. Too strong and the concrete will be hard to work into an attractive finish.
I’ve been a mason for over 25 years and have poured hundreds of patios, the best concrete mix for a patio is 3500 psi concrete poured 4-6 inches thick. Add additional reinforcements like fiber, rebar or wire mesh if you need more strength. Aggregate stone should be less than 1 inch. With a concrete mix like this, your patio will be very strong and easy to work with.
In addition to using the right mix, you also have to include concrete expansion joints if the patio slabs are large and butt up to other slabs or a foundation. Concrete slabs will move due to expansion and contraction or the shifting Earth. When they move against other heavy objects, they can crack. Expansion joints help prevent cracking by giving the slab somewhere to safely go.
Let’s take a look at patio concrete mixes in more detail ahead.
Concrete Patio Mixes
There’s no such thing as a concrete mix that’s just for patios. Concrete is a mixture of sand, aggregate stone and cement. Varying these ratios produces different types and strength concrete. But it’s still just concrete.
The reason some concrete formulas work better than others is due to how a patio is built and then used. A patio is just a large flat slab, so you need concrete that’s crack and buckle resistant.
The ideal concrete mix for a slab must be strong, crack resistant, durable, weather resistant, and slightly flexible.
It’s also outside, so it’ll see lots of rain, sun, ice, snow, possible freeze/thaw cycles and temperature fluctuations. A patio needs to be strong enough to hold a lot of weight. And a concrete patio needs an attractive smooth finish which means the concrete can’t be too hard to finish.
When buying concrete for your patio you have a few options. Buy Quikrete premixed bags, get it delivered by a concrete truck or mix your own. All of these options are great for specific scenarios and we use them all.
- Truck. Concrete trucks are more expensive but a great way to buy a lot of concrete.
- On Site. Mixing your own concrete is the cheapest option but not great if you need tons of concrete in a variety of places. The extra labor to mix and then move all that concrete would end up costing more money than if you bought a truck.
- Quikrete. I like using premixed bags for very small patios. If the job is under or around 50 bags I’ll buy Quikrete.
No matter where you buy the concrete, the mix you want for a patio is at least 3500 psi. That’s one part Portland cement, two parts sand and three parts fine aggregate less than 1 inch.
Use smooth rounded aggregates in your concrete mix for a smoother finish.
The Best Quikrete Concrete Mix For A Patio
If you’re building your own concrete patio and want to make things as easy as possible then Quikrete can help. Another great company that makes premixed concrete bags is called Sakrete. You can typically find them at Home Depot, Lowes, and many hardware stores like Ace. I recommend using their basic 3500 psi concrete mix. It’s strong enough for a patio and easy to work with. But if you need more strength, they offer concrete as high as 5000 psi.
Quikrete and Sakrete concrete mixes are made up of Portland cement, fine aggregates, and sand. There’s nothing special about the mix, what’s inside the bag is a basic premixed dry concrete that’s ready to use.
Premixed bags come in a variety of weights ranging from around 50 lbs to the standard 80 lb bag. It’s the same concrete mix, just in different amounts.
Below are the premixed concrete we recommend.
- Quikrete 50-80-lb 3500 psi and above Concrete Mixes. This Quikrete mix is a traditional concrete without any additives or special features. It sets in about 24 hours which is a pretty fast turn around for concrete. The cure time is 28 days.
- Sakrete 50-80-lb 3500 psi and above Concrete Mixes. This is the same basic mix as Quikrete. I like to use regular concrete for my slabs with as few additives as possible. Both manufacturers use a smooth aggregate which makes a nice finish.
Keep in mind that additives can be put into premixed concrete to change it’s appearance and attributes. Things like color or fibers to increase the concrete’s strength. Throw your additives in when mixing the dry mix with water.
Bad Concrete Mixes For A Patio
When buying or making a concrete mix for your patio, there are a few things you should try and avoid:
- Aggregate Size: If your mixing your own concrete then you have to choose the aggregate stone carefully. It’s not enough to just get the ratios right. The stone should be 1/2″ to 1″ in diameter. Too small and the concrete will be weaker, too large and it’ll be hard to smooth out. Rough edges are also bad because it makes the concrete harder to smooth.
- Aggregate Shape: Smooth stones are best. When you finish the concrete, smooth stones will settle and drop into the concrete which gives a better finish. You never want to see stone edges sticking up out of the slab. This can happen with oddly shaped or jagged stone.
- Strength: Make sure to buy or mix a concrete that’s at or over 3500 psi. It’s tempting to use more cement than aggregate in your mix because the concrete will be easier to work with. But you’d be sacrificing a lot of strength.
- Water: Water is one of the most important ingredients when making strong concrete. Make sure when you buy or make your own concrete, that you use the proper amount of water. Too little and the concrete won’t mix properly which makes it brittle, too much and it’ll be weak. A 3500 psi Quikrete 80 lb bag needs about 3 quarts of water per bag. That’s true of other brands and mixes as well.
When you’re building a patio, remember that it’ll have a finished surface. A patio should be attractive. It’s not like pouring a rough footing. For this reason your concrete mix should not only be strong but also easy enough to work with.
Another thing to consider when choosing the right concrete mix for your patio is access. Where is your patio located and what type of access to the site do you have. This can help you decide which concrete mix will work best for your project.
Let’s look at a few common examples:
Let’s say your building a large patio, over 1000 sq. ft., and have plenty of access. For something this large, the labor and time it takes to mix your own concrete would easily exceed the extra cost of a concrete truck. Since you have plenty of access I’d buy the truck. However, if the access isn’t there use bags or mix your own concrete. You can rent a cement mixer and power buggy to mix and move the concrete around.
For smaller patios or when you don’t have much access, mixing your own concrete is the best way to go. That’s why premixed concrete bags are so great for building slabs. They allow you to build in tight spaces with limited access. You can wheelbarrow the Quikrete bags to wherever you need them. Some properties are so tight there’s no way you can use a concrete truck and often there’s no room to mix your own. You could use a concrete pump but they’re expensive. Especially for smaller jobs.
Mixing your own concrete requires a good amount of space. You need a pile of sand, stone, bags of cement and a good cement mixer. One of the best things about using Quikrete is how little space you need.
Summary: What Concrete Mix Is Best For A Patio?
A patio is a great addition to your backyard, especially if you have a pool. The most common material they’re built out of is concrete. It’s a very versatile material that can be poured into any shape form and then smoothed, colored, textured and stamped. And Concrete is very strong so it can easily handle the weight of people and all your outdoor furniture. If you build the patio right, it won’t crack, buckle or deteriorate. But to get all these benefits the concrete mix for a patio has to be just right. Too weak and it could end up cracking over time. Too strong and the concrete will be hard to work into an attractive finish.
The best concrete mix for a patio is 3500 psi concrete poured 4-6 inches thick. Add additional reinforcements like fiber, rebar or wire mesh if you need more strength. Aggregate stone should be less than 1 inch. With a concrete mix like this, your patio will be very strong and easy to work with.
If you have any questions or comments e-mail us any time. We’d love to hear from you.
John Mazzuca | About | More Posts |
Custom Home Builder
John Mazzuca is a custom home designer and builder at Gambrick with over 25 years experience in the construction industry. John has designed, built and/or remodeled hundreds of homes, small buildings, and commercial projects. He writes about business, real estate, home building, and household electronics. His work has been featured in Fox Business, Better Homes & Garden, House Beautiful, and more.