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what concrete to use for stepping stones

What Concrete To Use For Stepping Stones

Pouring your own stepping stones is a fantastic way to save money. It’s not that hard to do and makes a great DIY project. There’s a variety of stepping stone kits available that contain all the forms and materials you’ll need. But it’s better to build your own forms and create unique stepping stones that are sized and shaped exactly how you need them. Other than building the forms, the most important part of pouring your own stepping stones is the concrete. It not only has to look good when hard but it also needs to be strong. If you use the wrong concrete mix the stones could be unattractive or prone to cracks.

Just about any concrete mix works great for building stepping stones. But some definitely work better than others. When selecting concrete you’ll have 3 main options, buy a premixed bag, mix it yourself, or buy it from a concrete company. For a small to mid sized job like this I recommend going with ready mix bagged concrete from Quikrete.

The best concrete mix for stepping stones is Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete Mix. It’s 4000 psi, easy to work with and sets up fast. It comes in 50 lb bags which are fairly light and easy to work with. Simply mix the concrete with water in a wheel barrow or mixing tray and then pour it into the forms. It sets up fast so you can usually walk on the stones by the end of the day.

If you use a different concrete mix, make sure it’s at least 3000 psi and has low shrinkage. A high psi will be strong enough to support the weight of people walking on or driving over the stones. Low shrinkage helps prevent hairline cracks.

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The Best Concrete Mix For Stepping Stones

The best concrete mix for stepping stones is Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete Mix. It comes ready mixed in 50 lb bags.

You can buy the mix at just about any Home Depot for under $6 bucks a bag. For small to medium size jobs bagged concrete works best. A concrete truck is too expensive for small jobs and mixing it myself adds too much additional work. Bagged concrete is cheap enough that any money I’d save mixing my own concrete is nullified by all the extra time and labor it requires.

The best thing about using Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete Mix is how fast it sets. It’s hard in 20-40 minutes. You can usually walk on it in about 4 hours. After 7-10 days it’s strong enough to drive over. But it takes 28 days to fully cure to 4000 psi.

Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete Mix is very easy to use and consistent. Quikrete does all the measuring for you at the factory. The ingredients are already measuring in the correct amounts with all the additives already included. All you do is add water, mix and pour.

The color is grayish like normal concrete. If you want a different color use some colorants or additional ingredients in the mix.

How Many Bag Of Concrete Do I Need Per Stepping Stone?

The amount of bags you need for a stepping stone depends on the dimensions of the stone.

The most common thickness for a stepping stone is about 1.5 inches thick. A 1 foot x 1 foot x 1.5 inch thick stone requires 0.125 cubic feet of concrete. That’s 0.125 of concrete per square foot of stone.

Next, figure out how many square foot of stones you’ll be pouring. This step is easy, simple multiply the length x width of all the stones. If your stones are all the same size, calculate one stone and then multiply by how many stones you’re making.

Here’s a list of how much concrete is contained in each bag of Quikrete:

  • 50 Lb Bag: Contains about 0.375 cubic feet of concrete.
  • 60 Lb Bag: Contains about 0.45 cubic feet of concrete.
  • 80 Lb Bag: Contains about 0.60 cubic feet of concrete

I use Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete Mix to pour my stepping stones which comes in a 50 lb bag. Each bag contains 0.375 cubic feet of concrete which is enough to pour exactly 3 1 foot x 1 foot x 1.5 inch thick stones.

A 60 lb bag of concrete is enough to pour 3.6 1 foot x 1 foot x 1.5 inch thick stones. While an 80 lb bag of concrete is enough to pour 4.8 1 foot x 1 foot x 1.5 inch thick stones.

The most efficient bag size fore pouring concrete stepping stones is the 50 lb bag. It’s exactly enough to pour 3 stones, 1 square foot each, with no waste.

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Can You Use Cement For Stepping Stones?

No. Cement is prone to cracking and has a low psi. It’s too weak to use as a stepping stone and won’t support weight for very long. You need a strong concrete mix which includes cement, stones and sand.

The words cement and concrete are sometimes used interchangeably. But they’re very different materials and can’t be substituted for one another. The material used to build hard surfaces like sidewalks, driveways, walkways and stepping stones is concrete.

Concrete is a mix of ingredients that includes stone, sand and cement mixed with water. Stone provides strength, sand gives concrete grit and cement binds it all together. Water activates the cement to create a paste that later hardens and grows strong. This is called curing.

There are some other masonry products that also contain cement which are sometimes mistaken for concrete. These include:

  • Mortar: A mixture of fine sand, lime and cement. It forms a smooth material that’s great for bonding things like brick and stone. it’s also used for mortar beds to lay tile. But it isn’t used for stepping stones.
  • Sand-Mix Concrete: Contains coarse sand, gravel and cement. Can be used for stepping stones but has a lower psi than regular concrete.
  • Grout: A mix of cement and sand. Used to fill joints between tile, brick and stone. Not used for stepping stones because it cracks.

Types Of Concrete

Concrete is a mixture of cement, sand and gravel mixed with water. But the ratio of ingredients along with other additives can give concrete additional characteristics. These include:

Fast-Setting Concrete: The best concrete mix for pouring stepping stones is Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete Mix. It include special hardening agents that speed up the rate at which the concrete hardens. Using a fast setting mix allows you to walk on the stone the same day you pour them.

Crack-Resistant Concrete: These mixes included polymers, vinyl additives and/or bonding agents that give the concrete more lateral. This helps prevent hairline cracks.

High-Strength Concrete: Higher strength concrete uses stronger and more gravel.

Stepping Stone Concrete: A special mix designed for pouring stepping stone. It’s quite expensive and in my opinion not worth the money.

You can buy additives to give concrete special characteristics in addition to what the manufacturer provides. For example, I use Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete Mix to pour my stepping stones. It already has all the additives I need included in the mix. But if you’re using a regular mix and want a little more crack resistance or a faster set time, add a liquid hardener or some fiber into the mixture when its wet.

The great thing about concrete is that it’s a mix of ingredients that you can customize to suit your project’s needs. You can buy bagged concrete and additives at Home Depot or masonry supply houses.

Is Quikrete Good For Stepping Stones?

Yes. The best concrete mix for stepping stones is Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete Mix. It comes ready mixed in 50 lb bags. You can buy it at just about any Home Depot or home improvement store.

Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete Mix is great because it hardens fast and is easy to work with. It’s hard in 20-40 minutes. You can usually walk on it in about 4 hours. And after 7-10 days it’s strong enough to drive over. But it takes 28 days to fully cure to 4000 psi.

The color is grayish like normal concrete. If you want a different color use some colorants or additional ingredients in the mix.

The regular Quikrete 3500 mix is a great concrete for stepping stones too. It’s very strong and easy to trowel smooth. But it hardens a lot slower. You usually can;t walk on the stones the same day you pour them. But if speed isn’t an issue for you give it a try. It’s a cheaper mix than Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete Mix.

Is Mortar Mix Good For Stepping Stones?

No. Mortar mix is not good for stepping stones. You should use concrete which is much stronger. Mortar is a mixture of cement, lime and sand. But it doesn’t contain stone like concrete does. This makes it weaker and prone to cracking. Mortar is primarily used to bond things together like brick and stone or as a bed for tile. But it’s not great as a finished material like a stepping stone.

If you’ve got a mortar mix, I recommend throwing in some small smooth stones. They’ll provide additional compressive strength and help prevent cracks.

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Conclusion: What’s The Best Concrete Mix For Stepping Stones?

The best concrete mix for stepping stones is Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete Mix. It comes ready mixed in 50 lb bags. You can buy it at just about any Home Depot or home improvement store.

Any concrete with a psi of at least 3000 will be strong enough to use as a stepping stone. But I wouldn’t go much weaker than that because stones are poured fairly thin. Most are just 1.5 inches.

A regular bag of Quikrete or Sakrete 3500 is a great concrete for stepping stones. It doesn’t harden as fast as Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete Mix but if you’re not in a rush to use the stones speed doesn’t matter. A 3500 psi concrete is strong enough and uses small stones which can be troweled below the surface for a smooth finish.

Summary: What Concrete To Use For Stepping Stones

Pouring your own stepping stones is a fantastic way to save money. It’s not that hard to do and makes a great DIY project. There’s a variety of stepping stone kits available that contain all the forms and materials you’ll need. But it’s better to build your own forms and create unique stepping stones that are sized and shaped exactly how you need them. Other than building the forms, the most important part of pouring your own stepping stones is the concrete. It not only has to look good when hard but it also needs to be strong. If you use the wrong concrete mix the stones could be unattractive or prone to cracks.

Just about any concrete mix works great for building stepping stones. But some definitely work better than others. When selecting concrete you’ll have 3 main options, buy a premixed bag, mix it yourself, or buy it from a concrete company. For a small to mid sized job like this I recommend going with ready mix bagged concrete from Quikrete.

The best concrete mix for stepping stones is Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete Mix. It’s 4000 psi, easy to work with and sets up fast. It comes in 50 lb bags which are fairly light and easy to work with. Simply mix the concrete with water in a wheel barrow or mixing tray and then pour it into the forms. It sets up fast so you can usually walk on the stones by the end of the day.

If you use a different concrete mix, make sure it’s at least 3000 psi and has low shrinkage.

If you have any questions or comments about concrete E-mail any time.

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