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DIY: concrete calculator

Updated July 20, 2017

A do-it-yourself project can always be rewarding when you get the job done and the results are good. And with all the tools and supplies you might need, a DIY project can make a dent in your wallet. If you don't do the math and know how much concrete you will need to finish a project, concrete gets expensive fast. But it doesn't have to. With careful calculations of the size of the project, you can figure out fairly easy exactly how much concrete you need so you don't break the bank.

Measurements and calculations

Measure out the area you wish to place the concrete so that you can come up with a measurement in cubic yards and calculate how much concrete you will need to fill that space with. Take a measurement of the width, length and thickness of the slab so you have a volume measurement. If you're not an algebra wiz and can't figure this out, don't worry. You can take your measurements and enter them into one of the links for the concrete calculators provided below, and the calculator can tell you how many cubic yards your project is, as well as how many bags of concrete you will need, depending on the weight of the bag.

Buy the concrete

Once you have your measurements and you know how many cubic feet you're trying to fill, the next thing you need to do is buy the concrete. The question you need to ask yourself is if you want to do this project yourself and purchase pre-mixed bags or if you want to hire the project out to a concrete contractor. If you choose to do this project yourself using pre-mixed bags, you'll want do your in-store research. Once you know the cubic yards the project will cover, you can calculate how many bags of concrete you will need because each bag will give you information of how much area it will cover. By knowing how many bags you will need, this will help you calculate how much it will cost for concrete. But you're not out of the woods yet. See Section 3.

Extra supplies

If you take this project on yourself, you will also need to calculate the cost of supplies into the overall cost of the project. You're going to need something to mix the concrete in. You will most likely need forms to help the concrete form in the area you wish to contain it in. Forms are typically lumber that you would use as a border for a concrete patio slab, but can also be use to help form concrete steps. You will also need a trowel, smoothing tools and, depending on the thickness of what you plan to make, you'll need rebar to provide reinforcement to the concrete. As you'll only use these tools once or twice, find out if your neighbours or friends have any tools that you can borrow to save yourself some of the costs.

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About the Author

Adam Crowson is a professional journalist with experience as a homeowner, parent and photographer. He has served as a copy editor and page designer at a daily newspaper since 2006, and previously worked as a reporter for a weekly newspaper. Crowson holds a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication.