Spring is finally here, marking the beginning of the end of the cold winter! It is now time to throw open the doors and get ready to spend some time in the great outdoors, or at least, your patio. In doing so, you may find that it is in dire need of a renovation, or at least something new to breathe some new life into it. We recommend utilising your very own concrete mixers to renovate your patio space. In just a few minutes of reading, find out how you can use concrete mixers to update your patio as well as pick up some great tips on how to improve the space.
Create a pizza oven on your patio using concrete mixers
First, and arguably the most exciting, idea of updating your patio is that of creating your very own pizza oven with the help of concrete mixers. There are a plethora of pizza oven style, ranging from massive concrete ovens to smaller clay ovens, but for the purpose of this article, we will be explaining how to go about creating your very own concrete pizza oven. The size of your oven depends on the space in which you wish to place it, your budget, what you plan to cook in it as well as time constraints.
In order to create your pizza oven using concrete mixers, you will need the following:
- Sharp sand
- Builder’s sand
- A pot or bucket for the chimney (which is optional)
- Trowel for brick laying
- Bricks (heat resistant would be preferable)
- A large cellophane sheet
- Old pieces of wood to be used to shape the arch
- Wooden pallet
- Wood screws
- Wood saw
You may decide to build your pizza oven on a wooden crate, so that should you wish to move it at a later stage you will have the option. However, this means that you could need a lifting machine to do so as the oven is likely to be incredibly heavy once construction is complete. Alternatively, many people make the commitment of deciding on a permanent placement for their pizza ovens on their patios. This can be done by building it atop a brick stand, which means that the oven will be at waist level when one stands in front of it – which is arguably the most ideal position.
Before we launch into the step-by-step instructions of creating your own pizza oven, the matter of bricks must be addressed. Many are of the opinion that when it comes to pizza ovens, heat resistant bricks are the way to go. When heated to a very high temperature, normal building bricks expand and can often cause the oven to crack slightly. However, this is not always the case. Should you be concerned though, rather opt for heat resistant bricks if they are available to you.
Step 1: making the base
Once you have decided on a position for your pizza oven on your patio, lay down your pallet, on whatever you have chosen to construct upon. Then, utilise your wood saw to cut a section of your chip-board that fits the base of the pallet perfectly. After this, ensure that you cut a few strips of the chipboard (around 50 millimetres high) in order to create a perimeter around the top of the wooden pallet. When doing so, make sure that there are not any significant gaps between the boards, seeing as this is the seal that will be holding in the concrete once you mix it and pour it using concrete mixers.
Although the way in which you mix your concrete in your concrete mixers is a personal choice, many recommend a mix of 1 part cement, 2 parts sharp sand and 4 parts aggregate (1:2:4). You can use a spade to smooth out or shovel the concrete into your newly made wooden mould. Try to get the top layer of concrete as smooth as possible, seeing as this layer will be the floor of your pizza oven.
Step 2: arranging bricks
Before permanently fixing the bricks into place atop your concrete layer, it is advised that you lay them roughly so as to get an idea of how well you can place them. Many suggest cutting standard bricks in half so that you have more freedom to shape your pizza oven.
Step 3: creating the arch
Perhaps the aspect that makes pizza ovens so aesthetically pleasing, the arch will form the roof area of your oven where you gain access. Usually, the arch is around two thirds of the oven’s entire height. You can use a variety of methods to create a support for the arch while in construction, for example; foam, layered cardboard or perhaps the off-cuts from your chipboard. This is how you will create the curve to support the bricks while they are drying.
Step 4: cement the bricks in place
It is now time to begin cementing the oven’s bricks in place. The first leg of this journey is to cement the ground layer of bricks using a mix of cement and fine sand – with a ratio of around 1:3 as a suggestion. You can use your cellophane sheet (laid down across the base layer) and begin to fill it with sand. This is done so that while the cemented bricks above are drying, they will not collapse.
Before you begin cementing the bricks though, ensure that the sand is also covered in cellophane so that it does not stick to any wet cement. Now, you ought to begin layering up the bricks, working up along the side of the cellophane sheeting you have placed. Should you wish to build a chimney, now is the time. A chimney, placed slightly higher than the oven door, ensures that the smoke from the fire will billow out of the chimney instead of out of the front of the oven.
Do not worry if the cement you have used to lay the bricks is looking rather messy, as this will be sorted out in the next step.
Step 5: making the concrete outer layer
Using your concrete mixers, mix up some more concrete and liberally spread it over the entire exterior of your pizza oven. This not only makes the oven more aesthetically pleasing, but also creates more insulation which will serve to keep the oven hotter for longer periods of time.
Step 6: remove the supports and sand
After a few days the concrete should have dried. Once you are sure this is the case, you can remove the supports (whichever type you decided to use) from the archway. You will then have access to the cellophane bag of sand, which you ought to rip carefully and proceed to dig out the sand. Once most of it has been removed, you should be able to pull out the entire plastic bag with the rest of the sand.
Step 7: make a small fire
Finally, your pizza oven is almost completed! However, before you start thinking about what to put on top of your pizza, you should light a small fire in the oven in order to ensure the oven has been properly dried out. Ensure that you properly store your concrete mixers after the job is done!
Create concrete half-walls with your concrete mixers
Now that you know the basics of creating your very own pizza oven for your patio, you may be interested in finding another way to spruce up the space. Consider creating some concrete half-walls around your patio, as these can be painted or decorated, and even serve as surfaces to place on which to set your morning coffee or even line up a row of pretty pot plants.
Most concrete walls are created using cinder blocks with mortar to keep them together. This is arguably the easiest way to create a wall using concrete mixers, as it is unlikely you will need to use steel rebars to keep the wall strong and in place. We suggest watching a step-by-step guide on how to build your very own concrete half-wall for the best results.
However, not everyone finds the appearance of tinder blocks appealing. There is a solution to this, though, if you find yourself in the same mindset. To solve this issue, you can utilise mortar to apply a smooth finish, which in turns gives off a unified and flaw-free aesthetic. This is how you can do so:
Before you begin, ensure that you have thoroughly washed down your newly-made concrete half-wall. A pressure washer would be preferable in this instance. Then allow the area to dry and lay out a drop cloth on the floor or ground next to either side of the wall to prevent spills on the floor.
Use a mix of fine sand, cement and water in your concrete mixer until the mortar is of your preferred consistency.
Spray the half-wall with a light mist of water before you begin smoothing the concrete mortar over it. Wet your trowel before use. Start smoothing on the mortar at the bottom corner of the wall, using a single and smooth motion. In the same movement, the mortar should be smeared upward around 2 to 3 feet. Repeat this and make sure to overlap every new smear with the old one, until the entire wall is covered. After this, wet the trowel thoroughly and begin to smooth over the surface to get it as flawless as possible.
Remove the cloths you laid down and fill in any gaps you may have missed. Do not forget to mist these spots with water before you smooth mortar on them. Then, let the wall dry overnight.
Tips on how to brighten up your patio
Using concrete mixers to create statement pieces like half-walls and pizza ovens is not the only way to liven up your patio. We have compiled a list of some of the handiest tricks you can use to do the job:
Whether it be adding tiles to your newly erected half-wall, or directly onto the floor of your patio, patterns go a long way in livening up a space. Ensure, however, before you begin purchasing any tiles, that they are suitable for outdoor use to avoid disappointment and a waste of funds.
Flowers and greenery
Why not blur the lines between your garden and patio? One awesome way to breathe new life into a patio is through the use of plants and flowers. While pot plants are always a success, why not consider installing some flower trays on the side or on top of your half-wall to bring in some colour and delightful fragrance?
Install a patio canopy
If your patio is uncovered, like many are, you may wish to install a canopy of sorts to keep the severe sun at bay for the majority of the day. This is a great opportunity to bring in an interesting design and display of colour to your patio at the same time.