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The first thing to say is NOT BY HAND! Our concrete products need to be mixed thoroughly and the only way to do this is mechanically.
The second point is a standard cement mixer, the type you see on a building site is not suitable for decorative concrete.
The third point to make is that if its not a bona fide concrete mixer, paddle etc etc. it is not suitable for the job. So if you have a paint whisk and a cordless drill you're going to need to have a rethink.
The bare minimum would be a mains powered drill with a plaster paddle but be warned unless you have a beast of a drill then you're either going to burn the drill out, not mix the concrete thoroughly enough or both.
So as a minimum you're really going to want to use a paddle mixer. Single paddle mixers can be purchased from around £50-100 but bear in mind that you get what you pay for, so don't expect a £50 paddle mixer to last for anything more than a few months of continuous use. Spend more and it will last longer.
A single paddle mixer will of course do the job but you will need to scrap the bottom of your bucket and check the consistency by hand to ensure you have a lump-free mix.
Next up the mixer list is a twin paddle mixer. This is the mainstay of many a professional concreteer and again they range in price. However even the entry level models of twin paddle mixers by far and away surpass the single paddle variety.
An entry level twin paddle mixer would be something like a rubimix-9 Duplex Electric Mortar Mixer (noisy but good). The gold standard would be an Refina EZR23 Twin Paddle Megamixer (very efficient, quieter - a beast!)
Finally at the top of the list is a forced action drum mixer. These mixers come in various shapes and sizes but all work on the same concept. You load the materials from the top and blades within the mixer spin at low speed like a merry-go-round and blend the materials. Because the blades sit at the base of the mixer gravity assists in the mixing process unlike a builders cement mixer.
So there you have it. Our quick guide on which mixer to use for your concrete project.