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Best Cement Mixers 2023

Jan 16, 2024

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Mixing your own cement and concrete opens up all kinds of new DIY possibilities.

Whether your project begins with pouring concrete or it's the finishing touch, strong cement starts at the mixing stage. Making concrete is simple in theory—you simply combine cement with water and an aggregate like sand or crushed stone—but the strength and durability of the mixture can vary quite a bit depending on the water ratio and consistency of the mixture.

While it's possible to mix bags of dry concrete mix and water in a wheelbarrow with a shovel, it's a messy process, and can be really tough on your back. Plus, it's hard to get a smooth, consistent mix by hand. The best cement mixers keep the work rolling along, allowing you to take the concrete exactly where it needs to go, and ensure a quality mix that’ll help you do the job right the first time.

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There are a lot of mixer options out there, and the right one for you depends on the type of projects you plan to take on, and how often you’ll use it. To choose the right mixer for you, shop with mixer capacity, ease of cleanup, weight and footprint in mind (concrete mixers can be tough to store).

The traditional concrete mixer consists of a large barrel or drum with an open mouth on one end, affixed to a rotating shaft with an engine to turn it. As the drum turns, the concrete inside mixes together. When it's ready, the barrel can be tilted to pour into a mold or wheelbarrow, or the mixture can be shoveled out.

A handheld mixer is a long handle with a paddle on the end, attached to a handle and motor. The mixer attaches to a bucket or barrel, which stirs the ingredients consistently. Handheld mixers are typically better suited to mixing mortar or stucco, but they can also be useful for smaller concrete jobs, and take up a lot less storage space than their drum-style cousins.

Most mixer barrels are made from one of two materials–steel or polyethylene (often called "poly" for short.) Steel drums are generally more durable and better able to stand up to heavy use and exposure to the elements, though they can rust if left outside. Poly barrels are rust-resistant and easier to clean between uses, but may not last as long as well-maintained steel.

You’ll also have to decide on a power source. All mixers have motors: Some are electric while others have gas engines. Both can provide a lot of power and torque, and many models offer a choice between the two options. If your projects are close to your home or another building with access to power, an electric option might be best. But if you plan to pour concrete further afield, a combustion motor offers total portability.

Drum-style mixers come in varying capacities ranging from 3 to 6 cubic feet. If you plan on smaller jobs, you don't need a high-volume mixer. For common DIY projects, a barrel capacity of around 3.5 cu. ft. should be sufficient—that's roughly two 80-lb. concrete bags plus water. Bigger jobs might require a 6 cu. ft. capacity, but remember the larger you go, the more room you need for storage.

I drew upon my own experience with a variety of mixer brands and types across many years and projects. I also consulted manufacturer listings and studied hundreds of customer reviews on Amazon, manufacturer websites, and home improvement store sites. Whatever your budget and scale of your project, there's something on this list for you.

The Kushlan name is synonymous with concrete mixers, and for good reason. The company created the wheelbarrow-style mixer, with long handles and flat-free tires that make this mixer easy to move around, even when it's full to the brim with heavy concrete. The polyethylene drum is thick enough to resist cracks and dents, but light enough to lessen the overall weight significantly, plus it's easy to clean.

The 3/4 horsepower electric direct-drive motor has more than enough power to keep the barrel spinning steadily, and the result is an even, smooth, strong mixture every time. This is a professional-grade machine that's simple and affordable enough for even a beginner to use.

The Central Machinery model from Harbor Freight is a workhorse for the farmer or home handyman on a budget. It's got an all-steel design that makes it tough enough to stand up to abuse, but it's reasonably easy to move around thanks to the large wheel set.

The beauty of this budget-friendly model is that you don't have to use it solely for concrete. The drum and mixing paddles can handle stucco and mortar, or it can be used for mixing animal feed or inoculating seed.

In other words, if you need a mixer that will work for various small jobs and aren't looking to make a huge investment, this is the mixer for you.

This isn't your traditional drum mixer, but that's a good thing. Instead of mixing dry bags of concrete mix with pre-measured water, you connect your garden hose to the side of the Mud Mixer, which allows you to pump water directly into the mixer at whatever rate you need. As long as you keep adding bags of dry material to the top of the hopper, mixed cement (or mortar, or stucco), will come pouring from the spout.

The spout also features a unique design, which allows you to concentrate your concrete pour in a specific area before swiveling to the next spot. It's more precise than the average mixer, which should lead to less mess as you pour and spread your concrete.

When you’re done, the Mud Mixer has a built-in cleaning feature. When you reach the end of the project, just spray the whole thing down with the attached hose. We measured this in weight, not volume, since the concrete continues to pour out as you add the mixture.

The IMER Wheelman II is a small mixer that packs a big punch. It's available with either an electric or gas motor, and you can't go wrong either way. The gas version has a three horsepower Honda engine that makes mixing quick, but the electric version gets the job done nicely for a few hundred dollars less.

On either version, the frame and drum are shockingly compact, portable, and maneuverable. Working alone, one person can easily lift the drum off the frame and into a small vehicle.

Even when it's full, the Imer Wheelman's low-profile wheelbarrow shape makes it easy to move, and its small footprint means it fits in cramped spaces or work areas.

There are complaints among some customers that the connection point between the removable drum and the shaft can get grit inside and start to fail, but you can help prevent this with regular maintenance. The poly drum is easy to clean by just hosing it down.

For the occasional small concrete project around the house, a handheld mixer can be the perfect tool that doesn't require a ton of set up, clean up, or storage space. The Vivohome's carbon steel paddle holds up well, even to concrete mixes with coarse aggregates.

A two-speed gearbox and a seven-speed progressive switch offer a lot more control over the mixing process, with seven settings to choose from, ranging from 240 to 850 RPM. The sink motor and steering-wheel -inspired handle mean you can hang on with two hands without being rattled by intense vibrations.

Perhaps the best thing about the Vivohome mixer is the price: It costs substantially less than most drum-style mixers, but can deliver comparable performance on small jobs.

If you’re straddling the line between the needs of the average homeowner and a contractor, this is the mixer for you. It has a large barrel with a huge capacity, and a powerful motor. It also carries a heavy price tag, but it's worth the investment if you’re pouring, for instance, full foundations or large driveways.

The Marshalltown 6 cu. ft. unit is customizable to fit your needs; with options for different engines, drum linings, and tow bars. Choose between a gas engine or a 1.5-horsepower electric motor, a steel or non-stick polyethylene drum liner, and a 2-inch ball coupler or Pintle-style hitch. Once you’ve got your perfect mixer, the built-in hitch makes it a breeze to get it anywhere it needs to be.

The Kushlan 600 offers all the same benefits of the Kushlan 250 DD, but with a larger barrel and bigger capacity. This is a mixer that DIY-ers and pros alike will appreciate. While it has plenty of power from its 3/4 horsepower electric motor, and it can hold up to 280 pounds, it remains simple to move, use, and clean.

A heavy-gauge steel frame ensures this mixer can stand up to the weight of a full load, and flat-free polyurethane tires won't collapse. The large drum opening makes it a breeze to get a shovel inside, and the design allows it to be moved around and dumped like a wheelbarrow.

Once you’re ready to put it away, the polyethylene drum cleans up quickly, and the telescoping steel handles collapse to reduce the storage space required.

It only takes a few minutes for this convenient, versatile mixer's drum to fill with smooth, ready-to-pour concrete thanks to its 1/2 horsepower motor and steel mixing tines. This is the perfect piece of equipment for projects close to the house, as the electric power means you need outlet connection.

We love the pivoting, swiveling head that makes for precise pouring in tight quarters, and the electric motor runs quietly, a real perk for indoor projects.

On a big project that requires a lot of concrete, you might find yourself loading bag after bag into some mixers. That's not the case with the Yardmax, which can handily mix as many as five bags at once. This has the kind of volume you need for big construction, but any DIYer will be able to assemble and use it.

Despite its considerable girth, the Yardmax's design puts physics on your side. Its wide base and big wheels allow it to move smoothly around the job site, and the long handles let you swivel and pour steadily.

The drum is set around chest height, which makes it convenient for pouring the mixed concrete into a wheelbarrow, but also means lifting the bags of concrete higher, so be prepared to use a little muscle.

If you’re working on a construction or paving project that requires moving the mixer around and pouring in many different directions, this pedestal mixer is a great option. It switches easily between front and rear dump configurations, plus allows for numerous angles and adjustments and a 360-degree swivel.

The pedestal frame and polyethylene drum make the whole unit lightweight and maneuverable, but you won't sacrifice anything in the way of power, thanks to the 3/4 horsepower and high-torque brushless electric motor. The 3.5 cu. ft. drum will handle most small projects, but if your jobs get bigger, you can switch it out for the 4.5 or 6 cu. ft. Kushlan drum with just one bolt.

Concrete can be intimidating for new DIY’ers, but it's actually a pretty forgiving material to work with. As long as you have the right tools, most people quickly get the hang of it. But there's always more to learn, even for folks with tons of pouring experience.

PM: What is the difference between concrete and cement?

KM: The terms "concrete" and "cement" are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Cement is actually just one ingredient in the mixture that makes up concrete, which is what you use for building projects at home and on worksites.

Cement is made of minerals—mostly lime and silica—that are combined ,heated, and ground into a fine dust. Concrete is made by mixing that cement with water and a binding aggregate like sand or crushed rock.

PM: Why does concrete crack or crumble?

KM: Maybe this has happened to you: You pour a perfect concrete pad, and then a few weeks later you notice a big crack forming right down the middle of it. This can happen because the volume of the concrete changed as it dried, and the pad shrunk. That's why contractors include joints in patios and sidewalks—it gives the material a straight line to crack along.

Although concrete is actually made to strengthen over time, a bad mix can make newly-poured concrete crumble within weeks or months. This usually happens because the ingredients aren't bound together well and the aggregate falls apart.

PM: How can I make sure I’m getting the best mix?

KM: It can take time and experience to get a perfect concrete mix. Your concrete's strength and durability will depend on the proportions of cement to water and aggregate. There are countless variations of material and ratios you might use, depending on the project and desired outcome, but a good rule of thumb is to follow what the pros call the "rule of sixes."

That means using at least six bags of cement per cubic yard of concrete, at most six gallons of water per bag of cement, and a curing period that takes a minimum of six days.

PM: What advice do you have for beginners?

KM: Safety is especially important when it comes to equipment that spins, like a concrete mixer. Be aware of how close your hands and fingers are getting while the machine is spinning.

Also, the better you care for your mixer, the longer it will last. That means cleaning it thoroughly after every job, and making sure to remove any grit or cement dust from joints and connections, in addition to removing leftover mix from the drum.

Kate Morgan is a freelance journalist based near Philadelphia who writes about science, food, travel, culture, awesome people, and a little bit of everything else. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Washington Post, O Magazine, The Cut, Woman's Day, USA Today, Harper's Bazaar, Slate, Saveur, Medium, Popular Science, and others.

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More Gear for Heavy-Duty Work: The Expert: PM: What is the difference between concrete and cement? PM: Why does concrete crack or crumble? KM: PM: How can I make sure I’m getting the best mix? KM: PM: What advice do you have for beginners? KM: