What to do with hardened bags of concrete

What to do with hardened bags of concrete

If you've ever bought concrete bags for a project and realised you brought home more than you bargained for, you probably now have a bunch of hardened concrete bags sitting around.

While you won't be able to use the hardened concrete for its original purpose, don't fret. You can reuse and recycle the bags to make something new.

Why does cement harden?

A sack of dry cement mix contains ingredients that, when mixed with water and aggregate, will form concrete. The cement mix will stay dry if stored properly - but if the mixture becomes wet, it will harden through a process known as 'hydration'.

During hydration, the cement's major compounds create chemical bonds with molecules of water, turning the compounds into hydration products or hydrates. After hardening, you'll be left with a solid, dense block of concrete.

Your dry cement mix could become wet and turn solid if moisture enters the cement stacks. This often occurs if the bags are stored outdoors or in a humid, moist environment. Even without exposure to moisture, dry cement mix can still settle and bind together, forming lumpy concrete.

How can I use hardened cement bags?

There are several ways to reuse hardened cement sacks, although your options will depend on whether the outside layer of the sack has hardened or the entire bag. The concrete's shape will also determine how you can use it.

By recycling your hardened concrete bags, you'll save on construction costs--plus, don't forget about the environmental benefits!

Here are some simple ways to incorporate hardened concrete bags into your next construction project.

1. Spruce up your garden

One common use of hardened concrete is to create embankments, terraces, or in other landscaping projects. If you're planning a garden makeover, consider using concrete bags as retaining walls or steps. Depending on the size of the project, you might use one hardened bag per step. Alternatively, you could try cutting the bags into smaller blocks using a concrete saw. Before building any retaining walls, you will need to excavate the slope into the hillside in areas of about 150cm to 300cm.

Another attractive way to take your garden to the next level is by creating stony paths. By digging holes and placing your hardened concrete bags within them, you can create beautiful, winding pathways leading visitors to certain points in your garden.

2. Forge functional landscapes

If you're a bit of a green thumb, your hardened concrete bags will help you create a gorgeous, functional, and durable space to grow veggies, florals, and more.

Use hardened blocks to create a base for raised garden beds, or provide drainage with crushed concrete. Even if gardening isn't your style, raised garden beds look impeccable and will add outstanding curb appeal to your home.

3. Backfill, backfill, backfill

With most construction or landscaping projects, there's a never-ending need to backfill. With your hardened concrete, safety goggles, and hammer in hand, you'll have everything you need to backfill a new patio or driveway.

Once you're all kitted up with safety gear, it's time to start crushing. Use your hammer to smash your hardened concrete bags until they're in pieces. Depending on your project, you might be happy with large chunks of concrete, or you may need a finer fill. Keep crushing until you've achieved the consistency you're after.

You can use crushed concrete:

- As an alternative to pea gravel
- As an alternative to crushed rock
- To cover the bottom of planters to assist with drainage
- To fill landscape holes
- To create a driveway
- To fill potholes and dips

Clearly, crushed concrete has an enormous range of benefits - you're only limited by your imagination!

4. Create a stunning driveway border

You can also use hardened concrete to create a striking border for your driveway, creating a grand entrance to your home and boosting curb appeal through the ceiling! You'll also enjoy improved drainage and save your driveway from looking rugged and raggedy.

As we discussed above, you can use a concrete saw to cut your hardened concrete bags into appropriately-sized blocks. Use these blocks to line your driveway's border, instantly ramping up its style and substance. It's a labour-intensive job for sure, but the outcome is more than worth the work.

If you're not prepared to cut up your hardened concrete, you can crush it and use it as backfill for store-bought stone blocks instead.

Looking to learn more?

If you're keen to pick up some more creative construction and landscaping ideas, get in touch with the civil and construction experts at Jaybro today.

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