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What is Bolt Preload?

A bolt and nut are used together as a compressive force to keep materials connected. The threads of the nut work with the threads of the screw to apply force to either side of the fastened material. This tension is called Bolt Preload, which is the compression created as the nut is tightened against the bolt (or vice-versa).

how forces act on a bolt with proper preload

When a load (weight) is placed on a bolt, it is limited to the amount of load the bolt can handle before failing. However, when a bolt is tightened against a material, it allows the bolt to distribute the force through the material, so the bolt itself only holds a portion of the load. This means that a bolt can hold a significantly higher load when the correct amount of tension is applied. That tension is known as preload.

Load – The amount of force acting on a fastener assembly

Preload – The amount of tension (compression) needed to distribute a load’s force throughout a fastener assembly

Working Load – The load placed on the assembly once ready to perform

Bolt Preload – The tension created when the nut is screwed onto a bolt to hold two materials together. When the tension reaches the optimal preload, the working load (load added after creating the assembly) placed on a bolt will be distributed into the installation materials, so the bolt does not take the entire load.

The Outcomes of Bolt Preload:

  • If the assembly is loose (the preload is not correctly applied), the external load increases the load on the bolt only. This will result in bolt failure.
  • If the assembly is tight (the correct preload has been applied), the load will only cause bolt deformation by distributing the load through the bolt and the nut.

How Bolt Preload Works

Bolts are incredible tools, but they are actually not as strong as we’d think. When first glancing at a bolt assembly with a working load attached to it, it appears as though the bolt is holding that entire load on its own. This is not the case.

When a bolt has preload, it is able to distribute the working load out across the plate near the head of the bolt. We will refer to this as the support plate. This means a properly installed bolt assembly can withstand a much heavier load as it distributes the force out away from itself. When a working load is applied to a fastener assembly that has not been preloaded, the entire force is placed on the bolt alone, which makes it much more likely to fail.

Why Is Bolt Preload So Important?

how forces act on a bolt with no preload

As discussed above, without bolt preload, the entire structure would be totally reliant on the bolt to hold the weight. When preload is applied, significantly less bolts are needed, as the material (Support Plate) will play a significantly larger role in holding the working load. This is not a cure-all however; a working load may still exceed the preload of the bolts which can result in the bolts failing, the support plate failing, or both.

Easy Ways to Determine Bolt Preload

  • Use a Torque Wrench to Reach Optimal Torque
    • While this is not a true measure of bolt preload, if a bolt is fastened to its optimal torque it can be assumed it is close to the correct preload. The reason this method is not readily accepted is because the torque will be directly affected by the material it is being spun against. A rougher material will produce more friction, which will make the torque value higher while reducing the preload tension. The opposite is also true. You can hit optimal torque without hitting the optimal preload (and vice versa). In the end it depends on the material, which is why this method isn’t exact, but it is a decent guess.
  • Use Preload Indicating Washers
    • Preload indicating washers are washers that are designed to spin until a certain amount of load is applied to them. This way, once the washer is no longer free-spinning, the preload has been met. This is a much simpler way of determining if the correct compression has been met.
  • Use Direct Tension Indicating Washers
    • These washers have little bumps that flatten when preload is achieved. Once flattened, a feeler gauge is used to make sure the bolt shaft is no more than 50% accessible under the washer (ideally less).
  • Use Silicon Direct Tension Indicating Washers
    • These washers operate in a similar way to the direct tension indicating washers above. These washers have small recesses where a silicon paste is filled in. As the nut tightens against them, the silicon begins to come out of the sides of the washer. To identify when optimal preload is achieved on this type of washer, the amount of recesses on the washer minus one need to be exposed out the sides. For example: If there are 6 recesses, then a minimum of 5 need to be exposed. 6 recesses – 1 recess = 5 (Preload has been reached)
  • Tighten Until Snug, and Then Tighten “X” Degrees
    • A less reliable approach is to tighten the nut until snug, and then to torque the nut “X” degrees. For example, a recommendation of 90 degrees would look like the following: Spin the nut onto the assembly until snug against the material. Attach the wrench to the nut and spin it a quarter of a turn (90 degrees). This method will give you a close to accurate preload.

So what does bolt preload do?

Bolt preload ultimately allows a fully tightened bolt to survive in an application where an untightened or loose assembly would fail very quickly. When tight, the joint provides a conduit for the force to flow through into the assembly materials themselves. This means the bolt assembly itself is only under a portion of the force of the working load. While you cannot look at a bolt and see this transfer occurring, the preload allows bolts to survive in much more rigorous applications.

What Kind of Fasteners for Installing Deck Boards

What Kind of Decking Fasteners Should You Use?

wooden deck boards

Building a deck is one of the most rewarding home additions you can make to your house. Not only do they add value, but they are also an excellent place to lounge and relax or throw that summer barbecue for all the people who just won’t fit inside. One of the issues that many DIY deck builders come across when building their deck is determining what kind of fasteners to use.

There are several versions of fasteners that can be used depending on the effect you want to achieve. To demystify the deck building process, let’s go over the types of fasteners that can be used for installing deck boards.

nails vs screws

Nails or Screws?

Screws or Nails is one of the biggest questions when it comes what type of fastener to use. We’ve already gone over that in-depth in another blog post: Screws vs. Nails. The basic premise is that using each depends on the kind of force acting on them. For example, deck framing often uses nails. While nails often seem inferior to screws, they have three benefits that make them worth using in your framing:

  • Shear Strength
  • Cost
  • Speed of Install

Nails have one huge advantage over screws when building a deck – they bend. Decks are often subject to the force of heavy winds. Due to the way wind can get beneath a deck and pull on it, nails will bend and prevent the deck from moving while screws, which have a significantly lower shear strength, will break. So normally a combination of screws and nails are best for the framing process.

For deck boards, screws are the fasteners you want to use for holding strength. They provide excellent retention of the boards and prevent the dreaded board squeak that occurs when nails are used. Board squeak is what happens when there is distance between the deck board and the frame. As the board travels while weight is applied to it, the squeaking occurs. Using screws will limit this, as they have much better holding strength than nails.

Deck screws have a shank, or shoulder, and sometimes a notched point. This notch point is used to remove the need for drilling a pilot hole, however, we still recommend drilling pilot holes where-ever possible to prevent accidental splitting of the wood.

316 and 305 stainless steel deck screws

The Best Fasteners for Deck Boards

305 or 316 Stainless Steel Deck Screws

Stainless steel deck screws usually come in 305 stainless steel. This is a must for deck screws. Deck boards need to have corrosion resistant screws because they are constantly exposed to the elements. If you are in a highly corrosive environment, such as within 20 miles of a body of salt-water, make sure to use 316 stainless steel deck screws. Having the right grade of deck screw is essential for a long-lasting application.

Painted Head Deck Screws

painted head wood screws

Painted head deck screws are the next level of deck screws you will want to consider. They often come in multiple shades of brown but can also be found in other colors. These screws are still stainless steel but have a painted head designed to camouflage them in wood. In many cases, they are not a perfect match but tend to be much less noticeable than the silver of a standard stainless steel screw head.

Wood Plugs

decking wood plugs kit

Wood Plugs are an excellent in-between for a hidden fastener system. Each hole drilled in the deck boards is counter-sunk into the wood. The screw is then installed below the surface of the wood. Once the screw is fully installed a small wood plug, that’s the same diameter as the hole drilled, is glued into the hole. This hides the fastener completely. If you want a specific color, there are also tools to make your own wood plugs, so they match the wood perfectly every time.

Hidden Decking Fasteners

Ipe clips hidden decking fastener system

Hidden decking fasteners are the newest and most visually appealing fastener type. Used with grooved boards usually made of Ipe wood, these fasteners grip into the grooves on the side of the boards to create a strong and hidden fastening system. Hidden decking fasteners can also be used in standard lumber by utilizing a slot cutting router bit to cut notches into the side of deck boards. These fasteners are lined up in the grooves, then screw directly into the frame of the deck. This provides an excellent finish as they help to evenly space the boards and hide fasteners completely from the top of the boards.

Installing Deck Boards

Now that you have your frame built and know what kinds of fasteners you can use for the deck boards, it’s time to start installing them.

Installing Deck Boards Using Standard and Painted Stainless Steel Deck Screws

When installing standard and painted head deck screws follow these steps.:

  1. Position the deck boards on the frame
  2. Using a tape measure and pencil, mark the screw locations on the boards
    • Make sure to keep the screw holes at least 1″ inside the edge of the board. This will help to prevent splitting and cracking in the boards.
  3. Drill the pilot holes through the boards and into the frame
    • Even though many deck screws have a notched tip for drilling, it is not the best solution and pilot holes should be drilled anyway.
  4. Drive the deck screws through the boards into the frame
    • Position the screw perpendicular to the board
    • Slowly drive the screws into the frame
    • Do not over-torque your fasteners. Once the flat portion of the head becomes flush, move to the next screw

Installing Deck Boards Using Wood Plugs

When installing deck boards using Wood Plugs follow these steps:

  1. Position the deck boards on the frame
  2. Using a tape measure and pencil, mark the screw locations on the boards
  3. Measure the length of the wood plug
  4. Using painter’s tape, mark of that depth on a drill bit that is the same diameter as the wood plug
  5. Drill the countersink portion to the depth of the tape on the drill bit
  6. Take the smaller bit and drill a pilot hole for the screw itself through the countersunk hole in the board all the way into the frame
  7. Drive the deck screws through the boards into the frame
    • Position the screw perpendicular to the board
    • Slowly drive the screws into the frame
    • Do not over-torque your fasteners. Once the flat portion of the head becomes flush, move to the next screw
  8. For each exposed hole, take a wood plug and coat it wood glue, then place them into the holes
    • If you are having a hard time inserting them, place a small piece of wood over the plug and tap it into place with a rubber mallet. This will prevent the plugs from getting marred by the impact.
  9. Quickly wipe away any excess glue before moving to the next hole
  10. Some wood glues expand while drying, revisit the holes periodically after installation and continue to wipe away any glue until it has dried, and the plug is set

Installing Deck Boards Using Hidden Deck Fasteners

Not all hidden decking fasteners are installed the same way, so we will be using Ipe Clips in this example:

*Before we begin: Ipe wood is valued over standard wooden deck boards, because Ipe wood will splinter and often comes with pre-cut grooves on the side of the board. Both of these features make them an excellent choice when using hidden deck fasteners.

  1. Cut notches in each board using a router cutting bit (if applicable)
  2. Install the first board at one end of the deck frame using standard deck screws every 24 inches. For a premium finish you can countersink and plug the hole with a wood plug.
  3. Align each clip in the groove of the board to a joist. With the clip in the groove, screw each clip into the crossing joist. Only one clip is needed where two boards meet on a single joist.
  4. Align the next deck board to the installed clips making sure the grooves match up with the first board.
  5. Use a Deck Board Straightening Tool (Hardwood Wrench) to hold the board in place tightly against the clips
  6. Install the next set of clips against the second board
  7. Remove the hardwood wrench and repeat until the last board
  8. The last board is installed the same as the first, only in reverse. Align the last board’s grooves with the last set of clips, then install with face screws every 24 inches.

Extra Tips

hidden deck finished results
Even Screw Placement

When using exposed screws to hold your deck in place, always mark screw locations prior to installation. You will want to make sure that the screws are all even to create an appealing and aesthetic finish.

Benefit of Ipe Wood

By far the biggest benefit of using Ipe wood is that it does not splinter. This protects the lifetime of the deck and your guests’ feet!

Get the Right Corrosion Resistance for Your Environment

Always double check to ensure your fasteners are ideal for your environment. After all the hard work of making a beautiful deck, you don’t want to start seeing rust stains on the wood from rusting fasteners.

Get a Pair of Knee Pads

Building a deck can be particularly hard on your knees. Find a nice set of knee pads to keep your knees of the wood for an extended amount of time.

Safety Gear

Always use safety gear no matter what you are building to protect your eyes and hands. Whether you’re cutting, drilling or driving a fastener, always have the appropriate gear on to protect yourself.

The End Game

Now that your beautiful new deck is built, it’s time to sit back, relax and party on the newest addition to your home.

Rivet Guns – Tools Used to Install Blind POP Rivets

Types of Rivet Guns and What They’re Used For

In order to understand rivet guns, the first thing to do is understand how a rivet works. Blind rivets, often referred to by the brand name POP rivets, are an incredibly useful fastener designed to hold two materials together with a clamping force. POP Rivets are comprised of two pieces: the hat and the mandrel. The mandrel goes through the inside of the hat and gets pulled during installation. As the mandrel is pulled through the hat, it deforms the back of the hat. Once the deformed portion grips against the back of the installation material the mandrel snaps leaving a clean finished application. It is common for this type of rivet to be used when you cannot get to the back of an installation earning this fastener the name of Blind Rivet. There are several exceptions to this including shave rivets (a rivet where the mandrel needs to be shaved down with a special tool after the installation).

Knowing how rivets work is great but how do you install them? A rivet requires a tool that keeps the hat of the rivet firmly pressed against the installation surface while simultaneously pulling the mandrel away from it. These tools are commonly referred to as rivet guns, riveters, rivet tools or riveting tools. Not only are there many things to call a rivet gun, there are also many varieties.

Types of Rivet Guns:

  • Hand Rivet Gun
  • Lever Riveter
  • Battery Riveting Tool
  • Pneumatic Rivet GunHand Riveter and Accessories

While not all rivet guns were made equal, it is easy to identify the type of rivet gun needed for an application. Read along as we cover the pros and cons of each type or riveter.

Hand Rivet Gun

Hand powered POP rivet guns work with a simple lever and squeeze technique. The first step when using one, is to choose the appropriate sized nose piece. Rivet guns normally come with several options to fit a range of blind rivets. Hand-operated riveters fit a variety of rivets, are usually made of mostly steel with a rubber grip and offer the cheapest cost.

Hand Rivet Guns are an excellent choice for the occasional user. If you find your project having just a few rivets, then this will do the trick. The biggest con on this riveting tool is the squeeze and the amount of time it takes. Used repeatedly, it can be very stressful on the hands, wrists and forearms making it less than ideal for projects requiring many rivets.

Lever Riveter

Lever Riveter Tool

Lever Riveting Tools are the next step up in rivet guns. They also come with nose pieces but work with a wider range of rivet sizes. Lever rivet tools tend to be more heavy duty that a hand rivet gun and are easier on the user. Due to their larger size and lever action, they reduce the amount of physical strength required by the hand riveter. They also come with a collection bottle that catches the snapped mandrels after installation.

To install a rivet using the lever riveting gun, first, open the arms all the way. Then insert the mandrel into the nose piece. Once the hat reaches the nose piece, insert it into the installation hole. Then squeeze the two handles together. This will pull the mandrel in and snap it off. Now hold the lever rivet gun so the nose piece is in the air and open the arms. This will release the hold on the mandrel and it will fall into the bottle catch.

The lever riveting tool is an excellent tool found on many job sites. It makes installing blind rivets easier than using the hand riveter but is still manually done. It does come at a higher price point than the standard hand riveter but also comes with the ability to use a wider and larger range of rivets.

Battery Powered Rivet Tool

Battery Riveting Tool

Battery Powered POP Rivet Guns come in many varieties. The two main types function basically the same way, except for the last step. One type of battery powered rivet gun spits the mandrel out from the front of the gun and the other pulls the mandrel into a mandrel holder, so you do not need to worry about them until emptying the catch.

Battery powered riveters are great for the job site. They offer the versatility of not having a cord and the ease of simply pushing a button to install the rivet. Choosing the version with the mandrel catch is typically more expensive than the other battery powered option. The catch version makes installations faster by collecting the mandrels for you but be careful not to over-fill the catch or the gun may jam.

Pneumatic Rivet Gun

Pneumatic Rivet Guns are powered by compressed air to very quickly and easily install blind rivets. With a built-in catch, the pneumatic riveting tool is easily the fastest way to install rivets.

Pneumatic Rivet Gun

The downside to pneumatic riveters is that they require a hosed connection to compressed air. This limits their versatility and portability more than any of the other tools available, but if the project requires installing a large number of rivets, this is undoubtedly the best tool to use to get it done. It also comes at a significantly lower price point than the electric powered tools.

Shave Rivet Tool

Shave Rivet Tools are a special tool used specifically for shave rivets. On shave rivets, the mandrel does not completely break off. The remainder is then shaved down using one of these tools to create a clean finish on the exposed hat portion. They are commonly used in trailer-based applications to resemble a buck rivet and leave a smooth head without the traditional hole of a standard blind rivet.

Shave rivet tools are a niche item because they are only used with shave rivets. However, there are multiple types of shave rivet tools. There are cheaper versions that act as an adapter to a cordless drill. These are more commonly bought by the DIYer or someone planning on sparingly working with shave rivets. The pneumatic option is much more expensive but works much faster and has supports to provide a smoother finish. They are commonly found in industries that use shave rivets on a regular basis.

Which Rivet Gun is the Best?

Now that we’ve gone over the many varieties of riveter tools, it’s time to determine which to buy when. Since one riveting tool isn’t necessarily “better” than the other we will instead identify which tool you should get depending on your situation.

  • Hand Rivet Gun – This tool is cost effective and ideal for small shops that use smaller size rivets sparingly. They require significant pressure to use and leave mandrel collection to the user which can be a pain.
  • Lever Riveter – The lever riveter is a step up. It’s a little more expensive but does everything you want the hand riveter to do and can’t. It works with larger sizes than the hand rivet gun and makes installations easier by increasing the leverage on the handles. The lever rivet tool comes with a mandrel catch to make cleanup easy.
  • Battery Riveting Tool – Ignoring the differences in battery riveters, both types come with a critical benefit: versatility. They offer powered installations without any cords. They are an ideal choice when commonly working with rivets on job sites.
  • Pneumatic Rivet Gun – Air-powered tools in general boast performance at the cost of being attached to a compressor. The Pneumatic Rivet Gun is no different. If the job calls for an excessive number of rivets, then this is the tool you want by your side.
  • Rivet Shaving Tool – This tool is only used with shave rivets making it a very niche item. For those working with them often, get the pneumatic version to save some time and headache but if you’re only working with them once in a while the drill attachment will get the job done.


While many tool varieties have options available that are totally unnecessary, the rivet gun varieties are different. Each tool has a place in each situation and they perform very well when placed in those situations. Before buying one for yourself, decide what you work with the most often and be realistic about the goals you wish to achieve with the tool.

Why You Shouldn’t Over-Torque Fasteners

Why You Shouldn’t Over-Torque Fasteners

Everyone who has ever worked with fasteners has accidentally messed one up at some point. One of the most damaging ways to do that is by over-tightening, or over torquing the fastener. This can result in stripping screws, snapping screw heads and damaging pre-tapped threading.

Fastener Torquing

Installing fasteners is an easy task (usually). To do so, you normally apply torque to the fastener, usually a nut or a screw head and simply “screw it in”. When torque and pressure is added to the driver, the fastener begins to spin. In general, although there are exceptions such as the left-hand nut, spinning to the right tightens and spinning to the left loosens (“righty-tighty, lefty-loosey”). The problems start when fasteners are driven too far, or over tightened.

Proper torquing of a flat head deck screw and an over-torqued flat head deck screw

An easy way to picture over-torquing is to take a look at deck screws. Most deck screws have a flat head style. This means when installed correctly, the screw head is supposed to be flush with the surface of the wood. As you can see in the picture to the right, if the fastener is over-tightened, the head is pulled beneath the surface of the wood. The increased surface area pushing against the wood is enough to greatly increase the required torque to tighten or loosen the fastener, which can result in stripping, snapped heads or thread damage which compromises the integrity of the fastener.

When torque is applied to a fastener and it is tightened, it will take an increased amount of torque to further tighten. Most inexperienced people working with fasteners tend to severely over-tighten fasteners thinking it will prevent them from loosening, however, this is not normally the case, and will cause damage to the fastener. To keep a fastener from loosening over time due to vibration and other external factors, a threadlocker solution, locking washer, locking nut or a combination of the three should be used.

While this seems simple enough, when torque is applied to a fastener and it is tightened, it will take an increased amount of torque to further tighten. Most inexperienced people working with fasteners tend to severely over-tighten fasteners thinking it will prevent them from loosening, this is not normally the case. To keep a fastener from loosening over time due to vibration and other external factors, a threadlocker solution, locking washer, locking nut or a combination of the three should be used.

Things to Consider When Torquing Fasteners:

  • Fastener Materials
  • Installation Materials
  • Thread Type

Fastener Materials

When torquing a fastener, the driven portion of the fastener – drive recess or nut – is put under a tremendous amount of stress. This is why it is crucial to use the proper drive size and style on the fastener. Using the wrong size will place an uneven pressure on the recess resulting in a stripped recess or a rounded nut. Since fasteners can be made from different materials ranging from soft metals to heat-treated hardened ones, the torque that can be applied to the fastener will depend on the material the fastener is made out of. For example, an aluminum bolt will not be able to take nearly as much torque as a Grade 8 bolt.

Fastener Drives

The fastener drive style will also matter. Below are the most common fastener drive styles listed from best to worst in terms of torque-taking ability and resistance to stripping:
Drive Styles: Slotted | Phillips | Square | Hex | Star

  1. Star (Torx)
  2. Internal Hex
  3. Robertson (Square)
  4. Pozi-Driv
  5. Phillips
  6. Slotted

Installation Materials

Installation materials can range from plastic all the way to steel which means not only does the torque the fastener can handle matter, the torque the material threading can handle also matters. Torquing a screw in plastic will have a much lower threshold then torquing a screw in steel.

In many installations, ruining the installation hole can end up ruining an entire build. By over-torquing in a softer material, the tapped threading in the hole can be damaged or stripped entirely. This is very common when working with plastic holes. It is generally very easy to over-torque and destroy the threading. To fix this, new threads need to be installed either by re-tapping the whole, or using a threaded insert and more than likely, the diameter of the screw will also need to be increased.

Thread Type

Thread type can also make a difference when it comes to torquing fasteners. There are two basic types of threading:

  • Coarse
  • Fine

Coarse Threading is a deeper but more spread out threading. This makes coarse threaded fasteners more durable because light marring on the threading won’t prevent the threads from spinning.

Fine Threading is a shallower threading but with many more threads per inch. Their tighter and shallower structure makes them less likely to be vibrated loose, but it also means there are more threads holding the fastener in place. Due to these extra threads, the fastener can withstand more torque and distribute it better on the installation material’s threading.

Both types, if torqued too much can cause the threading to slightly warp making it very difficult to remove the fastener later. That warping also weakens and changes the holding power of the fastener.

Torque WrenchThe Best Way to Avoid Over-Torquing

For most DIY projects the best way to avoid over-torquing is just to practice. With practice, knowing when to stop torquing will become second nature.

A torque wrench is a wrench that digitally sets and senses the torque. Once the optimal torque is reached, the clutch inside the wrench will slip preventing the fastener from being tightened further.  Many professional industries follow these torquing guidelines and use these tools to prevent over-tightening.

How to Mix Fast Setting Concrete

How to Mix Fast-Setting Concrete

concrete block

Whether you’re working making a patio in your back yard or pouring the foundation for a house you’re going to be using concrete. There are two basic types of concrete known as fast-setting and slow-setting. Slow-setting concrete is the type of concrete that can be worked for a longer period of time and takes a longer time to set. Fast-setting concrete is used generally for small DIY applications, patches and small jobs. It also begins to set very quickly so it is ideal for quick jobs. Since Fast-Setting concrete has some learning curves to working with it, you should also check out this article: 10 Tips for Working With Fast-Setting Concrete.

So how do you mix fast setting concrete? Follow our step-by-step guide to find out everything you need to know to mix and use fast-setting concrete.

Step One: Gathering Your Materials

When working with fast-setting concrete, it is crucial to have everything set up and ready to go beforehand. Due to the nature of fast-setting concrete, as soon as you finish mixing it, you’ll want to get it into place quickly.

In order to prepare you will need the following things:

  • A prepared location for the concrete
  • A bag of fast-setting concrete mix
  • The bucket for the concrete to be mixed in
  • Either an electric drill with concrete mixing bit or a masonry trowel for mixing the concrete
  • A second bucket filled with cold water
  • Protective Safety Gear
    • Protective Glasses
    • Protective Gloves
    • Long Sleeve Shirt
  • A garbage bag
  • A hose
  • A location for dumping unused mix and cleaning (*Outside)

When working with fast setting concrete, it is crucial to have everything prepared from the start. Since it sets so quickly, you’ll want to have the area you plan on putting the concrete prepared and have all of your tools laid out and ready to use.

Step 2: Mix the Concrete

concrete mixer

Now that you have all of your materials together, its time to make the concrete! First things first, put on your protective gear. We know this step can be annoying especially when you are in a rush but concrete dust can get into your lungs and eyes when pouring and the lime in the pre-mix can damage your skin. So when working with concrete wear at least safety glasses, a mask and a long-sleeve shirt.

Take the bag of concrete mix and pour it into a bucket. Then, using your mixing tool, stir the concrete pre-mix until it it all very loose and fine. There may be some small chunks which are ok. If there are big chunks, bring the bag back to your local store and get a replacement bag.

Take a step back and look around. Is everything ready to go? Are you going to be able to work straight through until the job is done? Once you answer yes to those questions, it’s time to pour the cold water into the bucket. Note: Do Not use hot water in the mix. It will set much faster making it harder to work with.

Add just a bit of water at a time and use the mixing tool to mix it. The less water you add to concrete the stronger it will be and the faster it will set. Aim for a thick sludgy consistency. During this stage it is important to remember you can always add more water. Don’t go crazy and continue mixing until there are no dry spots left in the bucket.

Step 3: Pour the Concrete

The next step is simple. Pour out or shovel the concrete from the bucket into the area. Then spread the concrete so it sets evenly and smoothly.

Step 4: Cleanuphose

Once your concrete is poured and setting up, you’ll want to clean your bucket and tools. To do this easily, do not wait for the concrete to dry. Go to the area you’ve decided is the dumping location. Then take your hose and wash all of the excess out of the bucket and off the tools. You will want to keep any animals away from it until it dries. DO NOT rinse your tools inside or down a drain. The concrete will catch in the plumbing and cause very costly issues.

Step 5: Put Things Away

Putting your tools back is the easy part. Simply put them back in the location they came from. Next, roll up the bag (if there is any left) of concrete pre-mix making sure as much air is out as possible. Then take the bag and place it inside of the garbage bag from earlier. Do the same thing to remove as much air as possible and tie the bag shut. Then store it in a dry location. This is important because concrete left out too long in the humidity or exposed to the elements will absorb moisture and harden, resulting in the leftover pre-mix being useless.

That’s it. You did it! Now you’re ready to get out there and start building something amazing.

Now that you’ve learned all the tips and poured your concrete, you’re going to need fasteners to attach something to it. Check them out here: Masonry Anchors and Concrete Screws

How to Mix Fast Setting Concrete

How to Mix Fast Setting Concrete Transcript

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Bob:Welcome back to Albany County Fasteners – Fasteners 101. I’m Bob and today I’m going to show you how to mix some concrete. Let’s get started.

This is a bag of concrete – 50 pounds. It’s quick-setting concrete. This is what I selected. They have quick-setting, they have slow setting, you know, many different mixtures. You can find it at your home improvement store. This is by Quikrete. I did many years of concrete work and many would think that, you know, “it’s a bag of concrete; it’s pre-mixed.” Well there are some important things that you need to know. Especially with fast setting concrete.

Fast-setting concrete sets very quickly, so you have to have your materials ready before you mix the concrete. I’m going to show you how to properly mix the concrete.

So I poured some of this fast setting concrete into this bucket. It’s a 5-gallon bucket I guess. You get these at Lowe’s or Home Depot, any of those. One good thing to do before you put any water in is to make sure you mix the materials around after you pour it out of the bag. That makes sure that all the materials are nice and loose. Now a couple of tips: If you go to your box store and you buy a bag of this product and you come back, and you have chunks or it’s not fine, bring it back, get a new bag. Sometimes when they ship these products they’re out exposed to the elements; they could get hit with water, and then the product starts to set up which is no good. So I would highly recommend that you make sure that you have fine product.

Now I’m gonna go get some water and we’re gonna start to mix the product. So, I went and got my water. This is cold clean tap water. Do not use hot water. Hot water will set the concrete faster, so you want to avoid doing that. It’s a good thing to just pull out of the center here, and pull to the side some of the concrete and basically just dig a little hole there to pour the water in. I’m going to start to pour this in then I’m gonna mix it. You want to go a little bit at a time, not too much, because then it’ll become too soupy and then you’ll have to put some more concrete in, which I might have to do here but I’m just gonna keep mixing it.

I’ll probably need more than what I have here anyway. To do this little project I’m doing. You just keep mixing it. Make sure you get the bottoms and the sides. Because otherwise you’re gonna have dry pockets with dry concrete. You got to make sure you mix it well. Now I’m using this ladle, you can also get a battery drill and put a concrete auger on it and mix it that way. For this I’m just doing it by hand.

Make sure you get down to the bottom. You get everything mixed well. I’m almost down there now. Now you don’t want it soupy like it is here. So I’m going to add some more concrete to this but you want to make sure that it’s well mixed. You’re better off when you have fast-setting concrete that it’s a little more wet because the drier the faster it’s going to set up on you. I’m all the way down to the bottom now. Now it’s coming together well. Okay I’m going to add some more concrete. I like to start off more soupy than dry because it makes it easy to get everything that’s on the bottom.

If you’re working on your project and as you get to the bottom and find the concrete is setting up, because this is fast set, do not add water to loosen up the product. Throw it out. Start off with a new batch, even if it’s a little bit. Just make sure you put a little bit in there with very little water, sometimes with cups of your hand or a little cup. Pour the water in as you mix it so you can finish your project off. It’s a little tip. Always a little bit at a time. Don’t go too fast because if you put too much in then it’s going to get very dry very quickly and then you have to put more water in.

This is getting perfect now. Now this is a small batch. You can get a big tub with a hoe and you can mix it. Break your bags open and put it into a big bin. We’re almost there. This is getting to the perfect consistency that I want. This is also fast setting. So fast setting, once it starts to get to that consistency, will start to set up pretty quickly. Just a little bit more. Not much…I think this is gonna do it. Yep. Now you can see it. That’s what I’m looking for. Okay. I don’t see any dry material. You want to make sure you have nothing dry.

You want to make sure it’s thoroughly mixed and always wear protection. You need gloves. You should have a mask on, so you don’t inhale this stuff. It’s not the greatest stuff for you. Concrete has lime in it. You need to protect your skin from it because if you use it many, many times, it also can do some damage to your skin. They don’t tell you that typically but you learn that over the years.

So here we are. Looks good. Just found a dry spot there. But I think I’m good for my little project. That’s the perfect consistency that I want. It’s not too watery but it is nice and chunky and thick. This will set up pretty quickly once I put it into the product that I’m trying to develop here for my next video. A piece of concrete that is already setting up and then you pour a fresh batch on top of that, they call that a cold joint. That’s where you’re going to have a possible break and you will see a joint in the concrete. So you kinda wanna-when you’re working with concrete-you want to move fairly quickly. Especially fast setting. Slow setting, normal setting, you know it’s much easier to work with. I would highly recommend that, if you haven’t worked with concrete before.

If you have a bag and you have extra material, it’s good to roll this up, take it, put it in a plastic bag like so. Seal it up tight. Make sure you don’t have any holes in the bag because once you break that paper bag open moisture in your garage or your basement will start to penetrate the concrete and then when you go to use it let’s just say two months three months, this will prolong the life. If it’s over a year old chances are that you’ll come back to this and it will be chunky. You just need to throw it out at that point.

A final tip: cleaning. Do not clean concrete buckets out in your slop sink, your toilet, your regular sink in your house, your bathtub, don’t do it. Clean it outside. Get a hose, clean the concrete out in your grass somewhere that you just don’t want to see it. Though it will leave a residue around. If you clean it out in your sink, slop sink, toilet, or your bathtub, the trap in the plumbing will collect the concrete sand and it will set up in there and the end result is it will reduce the amount of flow of water and whatever else is in there by a substantial amount. Thus clogging your sink eventually. Hair will cling to it. A lot of people do this. It’s a big mistake. Don’t do it. That’s how you mix a bag of concrete. I probably used about 75% of this bag. Thanks for watching.


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