FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions
CONcrete for 25 years
Why order Ready mix concrete near me?

Desiring an excellent finish, strength and long term durability to your concrete?  Then you will want the freshest concrete that you can get both for a quality product as well as to give you the time to work and finish it.  


Once water hits the cement powder in the mixer, the hydration process has started and crystallization has begun.   No, it is not fully mixed, but you really can’t go back to zero again.  Yes, there are additives that will make the concrete hydration slow down and those are used commonly in the summer to extend the time of concrete’s workability.  Yes, there are things that can be done for extreme cases, but you really want to order your concrete so that it arrives in 45 minutes of when it was batched at the plant.

How Much Will Ready Mix Concrete Delivery Cost?

Factors of Ready Mix Concrete pricing:

Amount and Quality of the Concrete Materials

Amount of concrete ordered

Distance to concrete placement

Concrete additives

Extra Fees


The price of ready mix concrete is not merely based upon the amount of materials that go into the concrete that you are buying.  Yes, you feel that you are buying concrete, I commonly tell people that we are “Doordash® for Concrete''.  When you order concrete delivered, you are in a sense hiring a driver, and a mechanic, purchasing numerous types of trucks, a loader, diesel, parts, electricity, city water, environmental testing and very expensive insurance as well as buying the materials and paying a mortgage on the plant.  So, that is all a part of the concrete pricing.  


We are in the minority charging a simple standard rate per yard for materials plus whatever additives that are ordered within a 25 minute radius of the plant (by mixer truck).  Some concrete plants have charges and fees so that they can keep the “concrete price per cubic yard” down to sound competitive yet keep make up the difference by charging various fees such as “zone fee”, “environmental fee”, or “fuel surcharges”.  These can represent legitimate costs but we prefer you to know up front what your concrete will cost.  So, when ordering concrete don’t merely ask what the price per cubic yard is when ordering concrete, ask what other fees will be applied or assessed. 

Basics for ordering Ready Mix Concrete

When we take orders for concrete delivery, here is what we need to find out:


Where do you want the concrete delivered?  


Generally speaking we prefer to keep within a 30-40 mile radius of our plant to ensure the freshness of the concrete when it arrives.  So, have the home or business address that is recognized by Google Maps available when you call.  Map apps are calibrated for commuter vehicles, so we have to figure more time for a concrete mixer’s drive time.  


If there is not a physical address to the property yet, let the staff know and a pin drop text will often suffice.  


How many cubic yards of concrete do you need to complete your project?  


A cubic yard (36”x36”x36”) is roughly the height of the average kitchen island (just picture 36” wide as well as long) and weighs almost 2 tons (curb weight of a F-150) when delivered.  Our trucks can carry as many as 10 yards.  Most Ready Mix plants have a minimum load that they will carry to a solo job.  5 yards is our minimum.  That does not include “tags”.  After a full truck has been delivered, a “Tag” is the additional amount ordered to finish the remainder of a job.  So, when ordering more than a full truck, the minimum order does not apply.


 I recommend that you do your own measurement and use a “Concrete Calculator” because this is where even contractors lose money by “guesstimating” when  ordering concrete.  


After your math, grading is everything!  Many get the area measurements and mathematics down, but fail in executing the grading.  A common error is to place 2x4 forms (or whatever size) a half inch above the ground and ignore that the grade across to the other forms drops an inch or two inbetween.  For example, if the grading of a 20’ x 16’ patio is only 1” deeper than expected, that would add a full cubic yard of concrete.  


Rather than ordering a specific amount of concrete over a full truck (ie. 43 cubic yards) and taking the chance that you come up short or wasted more than you needed.  If you order exactly 43 cu yards for example and you come up short and need less than a full truck, you will be charged for the minimum or a “truck charge” for the extra (and unnecessary) truck delivery.  The best strategy to use when ordering more than 10 cubic yards of concrete is to order the amount of full trucks (multiples of 10 yards) that you are confident that you will use and ask the concrete plant to place a “plus” on the order.  For example, if you are pretty sure that you need 43 cubic yards, it would be smart to order “40+ cubic yards” and re-measure when the last truck empties the last of the 40 yards to determine what you still require.  That last load to finish things off is called the “tag”.  This saves you money both ways if you don’t need as much as expected or if you do use more than you expected by avoiding a “truck fee” for an extra yard.


How are you taking the concrete off of the truck?  


(See Next FAQ: Do I need a concrete pump?)  


How will you be paying for the concrete?

Most concrete companies require prepayment unless prior arrangements have been made.

Do I Need A Concrete Pump?

One of the big questions I have when someone calls me to order concrete is how will you be taking the concrete from the truck to where it will be placed.  


A fully loaded truck (10 cu yds) weighs 80,000 lbs and is by nature top-heavy.  We prefer that our trucks not leave the pavement, unless the soil is very stable and firmly compacted.  We do not recommend driving concrete mixers on residential driveways unless they are especially stout. (Expect to sign a waiver to accept responsibility if it cracks.)  


There are at least 2 different types of concrete pumps used residentially.  



Boom Pump - This is a powerful truck mounted concrete pump that travels with a folded articulated boom that unfolds and stretches over immediate hazards to where the concrete is placed.  The first and obvious limitation is length.  This is preferred by concrete delivery and finishers for speed and efficiency.  One disadvantage is if there are power or utility lines in between where the pump can access and where the concrete is to be placed.



Line Pump - This is commonly a trailer-mounted concrete pump where 4” hose sections are added section by section to reach where the concrete is to be placed.  They are more labor intensive to add, remove and move hose lengths than a boom pump and significantly slower.   They can cost close to a boom pump.  The advantages Line Pumps have over boom pumps is two fold: 1. There is no concern about getting tangled in power or utility lines.  2. The distance the pump can reach is mainly limited to how many hose units the pump operator can bring.  One disadvantage besides being slower and labor intensive is that you may need to reduce the amount of rock in the concrete mix to get it to pump easily through a line pump and especially through the smaller 2” line pumps (not preferable).  So, always ask lots of questions when ordering and have the distance measured to make sure that they have the amount of hose needed to reach where the concrete is to be placed.    


Tailgating - is when the 3 chutes are added to the back of the truck’s discharge chute to extend the reach of the truck about 15’ beyond the truck base.  This can be done only if the soil is stable and the truck can back to or alongside the forms.  Other than a large boom pump, this is the easiest and fastest way to empty a truck, but there is still a lot of labor to “rake” the concrete to get roughly level. 


To determine whether tailgating concrete straight from the mixer  is an option, the key  questions are Can an 80,000 lb truck access down the sides of your slab forms?  As well as,  how wide is the slab/patio across?   If it is 35’ or less and accessible by our truck on both sides, the driver can add the chutes and tailgate.  Chutes extend the ability to pour directly from the truck about 15’ from the truck.  While this is doable, it is still a lot of hard labor for the concrete finishers to “pull” and “rake” the concrete into place.  So, for the sake of time, risk of misreading soil stability and/or wearing out your finishers at the beginning of the job when a lot more will need to be done, many still choose to use a pump to make sure all goes smoothly.  


Generally, if the project is more than 15’ from where the truck can go, you have the additional choice of  “Georgia Buggy” and “wheelbarrows''.  


Powered Georgia Buggy - 10-15 cubic feet capacity


Better, but still slower than a line pump and they often cost a third to a half what a pump cost.  Again, they can have the problem of access through gates and other hazards.  So, check ground conditions and potential hazards before ordering.


Wheelbarrows - Generally it is always much harder, and takes many more trips and much longer to get the concrete to the project than anyone figures.  Then you really have to get working to finish the concrete.  Wet concrete weighs 150 pounds per cubic foot so it adds up very quickly since there are 27 cubic feet of concrete in a cubic yard.  So, that is 90 trips wheeling around a 500 lb wheelbarrow (avg wheelbarrow 50 lbs) to empty a truck.  Invariably, there are a lot of spills and clean-up involved.  One of the drawbacks is the potential for an “extra truck charge” for taking over 1 hour to unload the truck.

Basic Terms for Ready Mix Concrete

Air Entrainment - is the intentional dispersion of tiny (1/1000 to 1/100 of an inch) air bubbles in the concrete mix to provide space after curing for internal water expansion during freezing to help prevent scaling on the surface of the concrete finish.  This is normally done by a concrete additive of a surfactant (similar characteristics of soap).  


Accelerator - This speeds up the concrete’s set up and curing time.  Calcium Chloride is one choice that is commonly used in the colder months to compensate for concrete’s natural tendency to set up very slowly in colder temperatures.  Additionally, it speeds up the rate of time for gaining early strength which helps protect freshly poured concrete from freezing.


Fly Ash - is a by-product of burning coal (other types) with qualities similar to Portland Cement but significantly slower in gaining strength. When all is working correctly, this slower action can turn the extra salts and lime into a more dense crystalline matrix over the long term that is more resistant to chemicals and less permeable, making it more durable.  Fly ash also tends to slow the setting of concrete and lower the heat produced in hydration, so it can be advantageous in warmer months, but a disadvantage in colder months.*  Because it is generally less expensive than Portland Cement, it has commonly been used as a substitute for Portland Cement to reduce costs in making concrete.  Concrete Finishers don’t like to work with it because it can be a challenge finishing and cause discoloration in polished concrete that doesn’t stain well for interior floors.  The keys to the advantages are in the proper proportions with proper quality sourcing; it can add strength in the long term, increase workability and slow down set-up of concrete during the summer.  But, those are two big if’s when discussing a component that is increasingly hard to find and used to reduce costs.  If not using the very specific quality materials or in wrong proportions and additives, fly ash can significantly undermine the strength and long term durability.**


PSI - (pounds per square inch) this indicates the compressive strength of the concrete.  The concrete plant rates their mixture of concrete to meet the compressive strength “break-outs” should the concrete be tested.  


Retarder - This is an additive that slows the concrete hydration (setting up) down.  It is generally used during the summer months to compensate for the higher temperatures that tend to hasten concrete set-up.


Slump - This is a measure of the workability for the finisher or flowability of the concrete when being raked or pumped.  Of course, the nature of concrete is to “stiffen” as it sets up, but this term usually refers to the workability when it is delivered.  The higher the number the more supple (even “soupier”).  Ie. 3”-4” is stiff enough to form a curb while 7”-8” flows freely and looks more like “soup”.  


Tailgating - This is when one or more chutes are added to the (attached) Mixer truck discharge chute and the truck is backed up to or drives alongside where the concrete is to be placed.  


Tag - A specific order amount ordered to finish the remainder of a job after a number of full trucks.  

So, You Want To Pour Your Own Patio


*https://civilengineersforum.com/fly-ash-in-concrete-advantages-disadvantages/

**https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pavement/recycling/fach03.cfm


How do you test the strength of concrete?

There are actually 7 methods, but the two most commonly used concrete strength testing in the North Texas area are:  


Drilled Core  

Picture setting up a drill press on the concrete with a “hole saw” bit on your concrete slab.  The

full depth of your concrete slab is then placed in a special press and compressed until it breaks to 

find how much pressure it can take.  

 

Pro: you can determine the strength of any concrete structure or flatwork after it has been  

installed with accuracy.


Con: the structure is compromised in numerous places and the hole must be repaired leaving you with a marred surface..




On Site Concrete Chute Sampling and lab curing:

This is where a third party company is contracted to arrive at the job site when and where the concrete is being placed.  The technician takes samples directly from the mixer truck chute before the concrete is placed.  The concrete samples are put in small plastic column containers, are dated and taken to the lab storage to “age”.  The test is done by subjecting the column of then cured concrete to measured pressure in a press until it fails.  The test results are recorded at 7 days and then 28 days of curing to check both the speed and maximum compressive strength.  Reports are sent to the relevant parties.  



Pro: 1. Relatively inexpensive.

2. Does not impact concrete structure.


Con:

1. The sample is not cured in the same environment as the structure leaving a potential 

difference in actual strength.  

2. Takes forethought.


Using Concrete Calculators

Why do you need a concrete calculator?


Yes, you can do it with your calculator.  


Old School Calculator instructions:  


Width (feet) x Length (feet) x Thickness (input inches converted to feet) = cubic feet of concrete needed.  Then you divide the cubic feet by 27 to get cubic yards.


But, if you never were that great at math (or don’t want to deal with it), Get the App!


They are glorified calculators, but they convert the different units of measurement with ease.  You can even put the cost of concrete in to get your total price.  They help you keep track of a valuable building material.  If you feel guilty check the app's results with the “Old School” method.  Measure twice, order once is our motto!  


Whether you are a professional builder, concrete finisher or a “DIY - do it yourself” home owner checking your math is a good plan.   A good concrete calculator app can give you quick answers on the scope and even figure material cost of your project in seconds.  


What to remember when Calculating Concrete, 

Your math is only as good as your measuring and grading!

Concrete Calculator app Review - Concrete Calculator and Price Estimator (by Inch Calculator)



Need to know...

How much concrete is needed for slab?  ...for stairs?  ...for column?  ...for footings?

How much Rebar do I need to put in my driveway?


You can pull out your calculator and dust off your math skills or download a concrete calculator app.


Here we will be reviewing the Concrete Calculator named Concrete Calculator, by Inch Calculator.


This is available on both Apple and Android play stores.  It ranks as the top of the Apple play store for free concrete calculator apps with what appears to be 4,800+ reviews with an average of 5 stars


“By the Inch Calculators” make a number of different apps available for different construction trades.   


What I like about the app is that it opens ready to work!



As you can see from the screen shot there are numerous calculations that it will do.  What you can’t see is that Mortar, Rebar Reinforcement, Mesh Reinforcement, Area and Volume measurements are included when you scroll down.  These can be terribly valuable.  


For example for a basic slab, if you want to determine what the cost of concrete will be and how much you need to order for a back patio, you merely choose between rectangular, circle or if complicated you can just choose an area.  The appropriate blanks will appear and you can use feet/inches or metric units.


My only criticism is that those doing concrete beams under their slabs (as commonly used in North Texas to compensate for moving soil) will have to tally the total length of beams under the slab as well as tally your slab separately and add the figures together.    


The layout of the app is clean and simple and most importantly you know what to do next.

When is it too cold to pour concrete?

The simple answer is anything below 40 degrees!


But, if you are expecting a cloudy day with a high in the mid 40’s you may have a different problem.  Under these conditions setting up and curing will take a lot longer than normal.  So, rather than waiting all day for the concrete to get to a point where you can finish it, you can request an accelerator.  There are different types but the most common is Calcium Chloride and it can be added at the plant, or on the job to the mixer drum to mix before pouring.  

 

Caddo Mills GPS location - 33.040657,-96.177130


How to keep Concrete slab from cracking on Shrink swell soils in and around Rockwall and Hunt Counties

Shrink Swell Soils can be a major problem in Greenville, Caddo Mills, Royse City, Fate, Rockwall, Quinlan, and Commerce, TX.  Sometimes called Blackland, Black Clay, or Black Gumbo, the problem is that the soil is made up with a specific clay mineral that can expand as much as 30%*.  So, imagine the potential of the last 20” of soil under a slab, driveway, patio etc heaving 6” upward in the middle upon getting saturated with water  of the concrete structure forming a seesaw and then receding when the soil dries up over and over.  But, this clay could make up the soil substructure as deep as 15’ expanding and contracting both up and down as well as back and forth.  If you live in these areas you often will note cracks in your yard as wide as 3-4” across reaching deep into the ground.  This is why there are patterns of soil in and around the major metropolitan areas of Texas that have major to moderate foundation problems.  


* https://virtual-museum.soils.wisc.edu/display/soil-smectite/

Basic Concrete Admixtures (Additives)

Air entrainment additives for concrete 

This is usually a surfactant (think sophisticated Dawn® dishwashing soap).  It causes billions of tiny bubbles to form, to space and separate the cement powder uniformly for workability without compromising compressive strength.**  More importantly it impacts the longevity of the concrete by helping the structure resist damage from freeze/thaw cycles and scaling from deicing salts and chemicals.***

Plasticizer (Water Reducing Agent)

“Water reducer” name commonly used is a misnomer.  Think of it more as a lubricant.   This is a polymer that surrounds the cement particles, reducing friction between particles, which in turn frees up water that naturally gets trapped by cement particles sticking together and slowing the process of hydration (acts like a retarder to a certain extent).  The benefit is to make the concrete flow and increase workability without adding water, which contractors commonly do to make the concrete flow and workable.  This gives you the workability without the major drawbacks of adding water to the mix.****

Accelerator

This additive is designed as a remedy for the danger of concrete freezing before it sets in cold weather.  It speeds up the hydration process to speed setting and gain strength quicker (which protects it from freezing).*  Also, when pouring concrete in the range of 40-50 degrees, it sets up very slowly and can tie your finishers up for numerous extra hours to finish the concrete.  Accelerators helps it set closer to the speed when the weather is warmer.   


*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cement_accelerator

Retarder 

This additive is designed to slow the initial setting up of concrete to protect from the affects of heat.  In Texas, from May to September the temperatures can cause concrete to set at a much faster rate.  


When concrete is poured into forms it takes a considerable amount of moving, screeding (leveling) and a lot of troweling to finish the concrete.  Under ideal conditions there is a gap of time between each needed “move” which allows for emptying the next mixer truck,and being able to cover large pours , So, when the heat speeds up the setting of the concrete, it takes so much more manpower that 


** https://theconstructor.org/concrete/effect-air-entrainment-concrete-strength/8427/

*** https://www.concreteconstruction.net/how-to/materials/how-to-use-air-entrained-concrete-and-why-you-should-use-it_o

**** https://www.engineeringenotes.com/concrete-technology/plasticizers/plasticizers-materials-action-and-uses-admixtures-concrete-technology/32128

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