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Premixed Mortar v Mixing it Yourself

johnmocha's picture

Any strong opinions on mixing your own masonry mortar vs using premixed? I'm laying a double wythe wall - one side 6" CMU, the other side IXL giant brick. I've used Sakcrete Type S mortar mix from HD and its working ok. I don't seem to have the plasticity and workable time that I would like but I'm not sure how much incremental advantage I'd get from mixing my own. Is it worth the trouble? If so, any recommendations? I'm building a fairly large wall - 3' high x 80' long.
Many thanks,

(post #108984, reply #1 of 10)

for that small, I'd stay with the Sakrete 

edit- I lean that way a bit beccause I doin't do masonry regularly and beause living on island, it is easier to get for that amt, and because you already started that way.

My masons never use Sakrete
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Edited 10/7/2009 4:34 pm ET by Piffin



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(post #108984, reply #2 of 10)

Mix smaller batches.  Helps break up the monotony and keeps you ahead of hydration. 
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(post #108984, reply #3 of 10)

The masons I see use sand and "Pro-mix". That seems to be a cross between type S and Type N from what I get from the label. I built a block shed with sack mix. I am so bad at masonry, one 60lb sack is about all I can do before it starts setting up. It took me days to do something a real crew would knock out by lunch time.
I was happy with the result though.

Tiling it with pavers hid a multitude of sins.


(post #108984, reply #4 of 10)


I don't like the pre-mixed for two reasons. First, I've found that it's hard to work with. It's too stiff and it doesn't stick as well to the trowel as the on-the-job-mixed stuff.

The second objection is price. Three-quarters of a batch of mixed mortar is sand. If you use pre-mixed you pay a premium for that sand. On your job that would run into a serious price differential in the cost of the mortar.

(post #108984, reply #5 of 10)

I always wondered about this topic. For someone like myself who occasionally does masonary projects I always stuck with the premixed stuff just because of the convenience. It sounds like if this is what you specialize in you want to be able to "mix your own batch" in order to get exactly what you want.

(post #108984, reply #6 of 10)

Masonry sand here in S.W. Va. is between  $26.00 ton picked up at quarry to $40.00 a ton picked up at a masonry supply co. ,usually being a redi-mix operation or block plant. Bag of type S or N masonry cement is $8.00 to $15.00 depending on manufacture.

Every bag of the premixed stuff I have ever used is inherently weak, to much sand , not enough cement, sand crystals too course, board life suxs ect.In other words I wouldn't lay up a dog house with the junk, as I think more of my dog than that, plus it would take me twice as long always fooling around with the mix.--not to mention way to expensive. Patch work is all I use it for.

 I have the numbers around here somewhere ,but there is a very substantial  $$$ savings in buying separate components and mixing your own mortar.

(post #108984, reply #7 of 10)

A bag of masonry cement + three cu.ft. of sand = about $10-$12. A bag of pre-blended costs $5.25. But you need 4 bags for every 1 bag of masonry cement; so the same amount of mortar is going to cost about $21.

Let's say, on this job, he'll need 20 bags of masonry cement versus 80 bags of pre-blend. The cost difference is $240 for the masonry cement and sand versus $420 for the pre-mixed.

And, that doesn't take into account the horrible workability of the pre-mixed stuff, which slows down the mason and thus drives up labor costs. Nor does it take into account the cost of additional beer required at the end of the day because of the extra aggravation.  

Mudslinger, There's an old (post #108984, reply #9 of 10)


There's an old post around here somewhere about using 5 gallon buckets to measure the sand-to-mortermix ratio for type S. 

Was that from you?

I'm getting ready to finish a chimney repair and you've convinced me to mix my own.

I'm looking for a brain-dead simple accurate measuring method and the 5 gallon bucket is the way to go.

Thank  you.


J. I stumbled on this post (post #108984, reply #10 of 10)


I stumbled on this post by accident.  I noticed you had replied to a 2009 thread, didn't figger you'd get lucky and get a response.

So here you go:

Submitted by mudslinger on Tue, 12/23/2008 - 17:13.


I don't use a shovelfuls to make mortar--both because my mind wanders as I count off the shovelfuls needed (16-18 per bag) and because a shovelful is an inexact measure. Instead, I fill three drywall buckets with sand and one with mortar.

Here are some 5-gal. bucket measurements:

40 five-gallon buckets = 1 cubic yard

1 five-gallon bucket = .668 cubic ft.

1.5 five gallon buckets = 1 cubic ft.

4.5 five gallon buckets = 3 cubic feet (the amount of sand needed to mix one standard bag of mortar).


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(post #108984, reply #8 of 10)

Mixing it yourself is better but keep the cats out of the sand.

I swear, they send out a memo to the neighborhood when you get a pile of sand.

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______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ There are three kinds of men: The one that learns by reading, the few who learn by observation and the rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. Will Rogers