When planning on using cement at home, it’s a good idea to define the difference between cement and concrete. Cement is the binding or sticky product that is added to stone, sand, and water to make concrete. The more stone or gravel in your concrete mix, the coarser the product. You can make small items from cement, water, and sand, or you can make larger items like paving stones with more small stones in the mix.
You can mix concrete in the bottom of a bucket to create your own paving stones. To change up the design, you can press patterns on the wet surface as the stone dries to create a custom look. Designs including
- a lace pattern
- your children’s handprints
- powdered pigments
When adding pigments, you can either mix in colored water, sprinkle the pigment on top, or stamp it on the wet concrete. If you want more intense colors, you may need to sprinkle pigment twice.
If you have the space in your backyard, a summer gazebo can be a lovely place to hang out, grown vining plants that will provide fruit and flowers, and build a fire in the spring and fall.
Once you get good at paving stones, it may be time to get a cement mixer and put down a concrete patio so you don’t have to mow under your gazebo roof. Make sure your gazebo has room for seating and a hammock. Early gazebos were constructed to give people a place to relax and meditate on the beauty of the surrounding gardens.
You can also create small things with fine concrete. Do be aware that concrete without coarser aggregate or gravel can be fragile and may crumble. As you work the concrete, you will get a feel for how much grab and binding it has.
To create custom knobs, you’ll need hardware including screws or small bolts so your knobs can easily be affixed to your cabinet doors. Mix the cement, sand, and pigment and place it in small silicon forms such as for custom ice cubes. Make sure you work it deeply into the forms to avoid air bubbles. Allow it to cure as directed on the package, placing the bolts in the forms while still wet but stable enough to hold the hardware upright. Once fully cured, gently work the concrete out of the silicon forms.
Keep an eye out for disposable lace doilies. Mix fine concrete and use an old cottage cheese container to create low-profile coasters. Once the concrete is in the plastic container, allow it to cure until the top is still wet but not covered with standing water. Lay the lace doily in the concrete and tamp it just a bit to impress the pattern then remove the paper so the pattern remains.
You can impress any low pattern on your coasters, from a single feather to a flower. If possible, consider putting down your images, such as a leaf or feather, then sprinkle over it with a powdered concrete pigment to create a shadow effect. When dry, gently tip the coaster out of the plastic container.
Concrete will happily take on the shape of whatever you pour it in. Once you have your cement mixer, you can build forms in your hard and pour your own firepit. If you live in a cold country, consider digging down far enough to create a stable base so your fire pit doesn’t crack in the winter.
Your firepit will need some support internally to prevent crumbling over time from the heat. Lava rock and fire bricks are also important when protecting your concrete from intense heat. Try to start this project when it’s too hot for a fire so you can let it cure without being tempted to load it with wood.
Cement offers a lot of options when putting together DIY projects. Once you own a mixer, you can tackle larger areas. Carefully study the building requirements in your area so your larger concrete projects have the support they need to remain stable through the seasons.