This project covers pouring concrete footings for a deck using a small mixer or mixing in a wheelbarrow.
Whether you're pouring a lot of footings or just a few, it's better to have someone help you. Even power mixing is strenuous, and pushing concrete around with a mixer or wheelbarrow can quickly tire you.
If your deck is small, with footings at only its four corners, preparing premixed bags of concrete in a wheelbarrow is quick and cost-effective. Pouring more than four to six footings is best done with a power mixer or ready-mix from a concrete truck.
Rent a small mixer with wheels, if available. Move the mixer to each hole, prepare the concrete, and pour. Don't try moving the mixer with concrete in it. If a portable mixer is not available, rent a stationary model and move the concrete to the holes in a wheelbarrow. Laying a ramp of 2x12s will make this task easier and will minimize damage to your lawn.
No matter how you prepare the concrete, measure the dry ingredients first (in shovelfuls), mix them in the power mixer or wheelbarrow, then add the water.
About an hour per footing to mix, pour, and place J-bolt
Power mixer, wheelbarrow, round-nose shovel, mason's hoe, speed square
Mixing, pouring, screeding
Dig holes and install tube forms
Concrete (premixed bags or loose materials), 2x4 screed, J-bolts
Let the concrete set up just until it begins to firm, and insert a J-bolt into the center of the form. Set the bolt as precisely as possible, checking with a tape measure on opposite sides of the form. If the bolt ends up slightly off center, you can correct this with an adjustable post anchor.
Push or pull the J-bolt to leave 1 inch of thread above the surface of the concrete. Make sure the bolt is vertical by checking it with a speed square. Repack loose concrete with a pointed trowel, adding a little more if necessary. Let the concrete cure before installing post anchors.
If you're mixing concrete in a wheelbarrow, get a large one -- a lot of concrete will spill from a small wheelbarrow as you mix it. Pour the contents off a complete premixed bag into the wheelbarrow (never a partial bag) or measure in the dry ingredients with a shovel. Mix the dry mix together with a hoe, then mound it into the center of the wheelbarrow and make a depression in it.
Add about one-half of the total water into the depression and work the dry mix into the water with a hoe. Then work the mix back and forth the entire length of the wheelbarrow with the hoe, scraping up dry material from the bottom. Add water as necessary, working it into the mix before adding more. When the concrete clings to a trowel turned on edge, it's ready.